What a whirlwind week-end in the Big Apple I had! When I came back from seeing Taylor Hicks in “Grease” a few weeks ago, my daughter thought a trip to New York City would make a great birthday present. After all, “Grease” was her favorite movie when she was just a kitten. Being the terrific mom that I am, she got her wish!
As long as we were going to the Great White Way, we might as well make the most of the trip and see “Grease” twice. I know that sounds a bit much, but it’s hard to see it all the first time because so much goes on.
For the matinee, we had seats in the third row of the mezzanine balcony, almost center of the stage. Later for the evening show, we had row E, center section but closer to the left side. By varying our seats, we were able to see the whole show, taking in the action on the stage and the orchestra pit-in-the-sky as well.
First, when you attend the musical, be sure to watch the opening act and the orchestra at the same time. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. The conductor is something else, let me tell you! As the music started, my daughter wanted to know if Taylor Hicks was up there directing the band! The conductor couldn’t stand still! He was even using the pole beside him in his routine!
When I saw “Grease” before, Max Crumm was Danny and Laura Osnes was Sandy. Now the characters are portrayed by Derek Keeling and Ashley Spencer. Both new actors were finalists on the TV show, “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.” Derek and Ashley are very talented and just fell right in with the rest of the cast. This was their first week-end for their Broadway stint in “Grease” which unless you knew that, would have though they had been in the cast since its revival debut! They were excellent!
The usual Kenickie and Marty performed for the matinee but their understudies took over the roles for the evening performance. Except for the fresh face of Kenickie, it was impossible to tell the difference between the characters’ performances! Both Marty’s looked alike and had the change notice not been in the Playbill, I wouldn’t have known it. As I watched the evening Kenickie I wanted to call my sister to make sure her son-in-law hadn’t become a Broadway actor because this guy looked just like him! He was a real cutie!
All the performers are very good! So good in fact, that during the matinee I actually forgot I was there to see Taylor Hicks! I was so mesmerized by everything from the balcony because I had full visual of the entire stage! It wasn’t until Frenchy was finishing her lines and the ice cream cone opened up that I even thought about Taylor Hicks and his Teen Angel persona! Now that’s a first for me!
I would have to swear that the entire section of the mezzanine was taken over by the Soul Patrol, given the squeals of pleasure as the ice cream cone opened! Watching Taylor ham it up as he descends from the Malt Shop in the Sky brought laughter from the audience. I loved how he held out his hands, looking skyward, with only the whites of his eyes showing! A little step here, another step there! “Beauty School Dropout” continues to play through my head, even now, two days later! Well, I guess I deserve that for seeing the musical twice in one day!
Both performances were great. I watched for differences but didn’t really notice any. Instead, I was surprised by how close to each the characters were, even with the understudies! Now that takes lots of practice and talent!
The finale changed up a little for the evening show, but only a little and that was because of Taylor Hicks! The devil must have gotten hold of the Teen Angel because as he came out from the back of the double line to sing his solo in the finale, Taylor grabbed his ankle and bent his knee, moving the leg back and forth while standing on the other leg! The audience loved that, but I’d swear I thought I saw someone close to him perhaps “dare him” to do it!
What I noticed was how everyone in the cast brightened up in the finale as Taylor Hicks blew his famous ‘harp’ (what other instrument would a Teen Angel play!?!?!). Their faces glowed with pleasure as they acknowledged their cast mate. That made me very proud for Taylor.
Watching the “Hand Jive” and other dancing made me want to jump up and dance right along! Instead, I kept hearing the music continue to pulse through my brain. I didn’t want the finale to end because it was fun, and so was watching the orchestra section! The conductor was up there dancing in such a way that John Travolta would have envied his moves and wanted to use them back when he did “Saturday Night Fever”! Too quickly it was over and the house lights came up.
As we left the theatre, I couldn’t help but mentally plan my next trip. Oh, you can be sure I’ll see “Grease” at least once more before Taylor Hicks finishes his Broadway run! It’s hard to get enough of my favorite Teen Angel! And it’s just as obvious that Taylor Hicks enjoying his role in “Grease” and is getting lots of great exposure and making new fans!
Catch Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel in “Grease”, now playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Taylor’s last performance is Sunday, September 7, 2008.
Tags: Taylor Hicks, American Idol, Soul Patrol, RagsQueen, Traveling Circus, Taylor Hicks Community