Vibrant ‘Grease’ at Toby’s Dinner Theatre celebrates 1950s teen love

Music lovers will dig the energy and innocence.

Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s Grease will hit you like “Greased Lightnin’.” The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1972, celebrates 1950s rock n’ roll and teenage love. Toby’s Dinner Theatre served up a vibrant show, thanks to Director and Choreographer Mark Minnick. This quality show features music, lyrics, and a book by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs.

Grease is a musical with themes of on-again, off-again love, and the loss of innocence; it follows the senior class of Rydell High, a fictional school, in 1959.

Music Director Ross Scott Rawlings, also Conductor and Keyboard I, made rock and roll magic with the musical numbers. Standouts for me were “Born to Hand-Jive,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “You’re the One That I Want.”

Danny Zuko and Cha-Cha (Patrick Gover, Candace Foreman) and the cast of ‘Grease.’ Photo by Jeri Tidwell Photography.

Cassie Saunders as protagonist Sandy Dumbrowski owned “Hopelessly Devoted to You” with her lush vocals. I also loved her rendition of “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.”

Patrick Gover’s look and demeanor were spot-on as Sandy’s love interest, Danny Zuko. His leather jacket and hair reigned supreme, thanks to Costume Designer Janine Sunday. Gover shined in “Summer Nights.”

Alicia Osborn, who played Betty Rizzo, was spicy and delivered her lines with razor-sharpness. Her acting came through as she sang “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” Asia-Ligé Arnold’s Teen Angel made me laugh with “Beauty School Dropout.” She also made a formidable English teacher in Miss Lynch.

Ubiquitous is how I would describe Caelyn D. Williams, who played Sandy’s friend Marty. I liked Jeffery Shankle’s energy as radio DJ Vince Fontaine. Frenchy was well portrayed by Emily Flack, in her Toby’s debut.

“Shakin’ at the High School Hop” and “Born to Hand-Jive” stood out in part because of Shane Lowry’s Johnny Casino. He was recently in Toby’s Something Rotten!

Candace Foreman was funny as party-crasher and rival-gang girl Cha-Cha DiGregorio. She was also an ensemble standout because she kept her energy up even though she was not the center of her scenes. Other ensemble standouts included Tori Weaver, Alexis Krey-Bedore, James Mernin, and Angelo Harrington II.

Sandy and Danny (Cassie Saunders, Patrick Gover) in ‘Grease.’ Photo by Jeri Tidwell Photography.

The minimalist theater-in-the-round setting featured scenery wagons by Scenic Designer David A. Hopkins and scene-appropriate screen projection. Kenickie’s (Calvin Malone) red, hot-rod car, Greased Lightnin, looked to be a modified golf cart, thanks to Properties Designer Lowry.

Minnick’s excellent direction offers a fresh take on “Grease.” This show will make many delightful “Summer Nights” for audiences.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Grease plays through June 11, 2023, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, Columbia, MD. Tickets ($57–$79) can be purchased by calling 410-730-8311 or online.

The menu is here.

Book and Adaptation by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs

CAST (in order of appearance)
Miss Lynch: Asia-Ligé Arnold
Patty Simcox: Brooke Bloomquist
Eugene Florczyk: Dereck Atwater
Jan: Lydia Gifford
Marty: Caelyn D. Williams
Betty Rizzo: Alicia Osborn
Doody: Brandon Bedore
Roger: Tony Lemus
Kenickie: Calvin Malone
Sonny: Joey Ellinghaus
Frenchy: Emily Flack
Sandy Dumbrowski: Cassie Saunders
Danny Zuko: Patrick Gover
Vince Fontaine: Jeffrey Shankle
Johnny Casino: Shane Lowry
Cha-Cha DiGregorio: Candace Foreman

Director/Choreography: Mark Minnick
Musical Direction: Ross Scott Rawlings
Assistant Conductor: Nathan Scavilla
Scenic Design: David A. Hopkins
Lighting Design: Lynn Joslin
Sound Design: Mark Smedley
Costume Design: Janine Sunday
Properties Design: Shane Lowry


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