Theater Review: Janesville’s Armory Dinner Theatre stages Grease

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Grease ushers in the second season of Dinner Theatre at The Armory. Originally built in the 1930s and currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mike Gilbertson’s recreation of a facility that served as a training center for the National Guard reflects his talent as an architect, designer and visionary. Every aspect of the building, its restaurants, and performing space reflect its military roots. Even the wait staff wear uniforms.

Our Sunday lunch and matinees gave us the opportunity to see how well The Armory has been developed. The entire staff is most gracious and provides excellent service. The lunch includes salad, entree and dessert, and several items can be served a la carte. Drinks are extra.

Grease remains a long-time theater favorite. The memories of teen-age years seem more glamorous than they really were, but the music of the 1950s and the introduction of “rock and roll” makes Grease popular with audiences of all ages.

Larry Schultz’s set design incorporates every symbol of the ’50s. Huge photographs of popular performers, fluorescent paint that glows in brilliant colors, and a partial red Chevy convertible provide an appropriate space for the teen-agers.

The cast includes Danny, the greaser (Michael VanGemert) and the “good girl” Sandy (Lindsey Foreman), whose romance centers the story. Heather Kreusman is Rizzo, the brash young woman daring to try anything. She is the strongest character in the show, and her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” stands out. Several of the musical numbers, the most familiar, are from the 1978 movie. “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want” remain favorites.

Grease runs through April 1, and performances are Thursday-Sunday. You may contact the box office at (608) 741-7400 Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The drive to Janesville is an easy one, and directions to the theater in downtown Janesville can be given by the staff.

Cabaret opens April 12 and runs through May 7. We’ll be there.

From the Feb. 28-March 6, 2007, issue

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