Woman's Gotta Have It
Filmed at The Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL 9-26-09 with Ona Watson.
Song available on Taylor's new album, The Distance.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Taylor Hicks - "The Velvet Voice" of Grease

Another great review for Taylor Hicks from The Spectator, the college newspaper of Chabot College. Enjoy!

Grease has returned to San Francisco, clad with American Idols and sparkling backdrops reminding us of the first time we watched John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John prance across the screen.

The original Broadway production, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, was nominated for seven Tony Awards. Its revival in 1994 went on to be one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history and inspired one of the most famous musical films of our time.

In case you have never seen the movie, which is nearly impossible, let’s recap. The musical, which the film was based on, follows the contrasting lives of straight-laced Sandy Olsen and rebel without a cause Danny Zuko.

Upon meeting during the summer, the two fall in love expecting to never meet again. However, when Sandy becomes the new girl at Danny’s school, their clashing realities intertwine, forcing both to morph into the mold of the other’s more suitable companion.

Set in late 1950s at Rydell High School, the musical represents the transition from the sexually repressed ‘50s (Sandy) to the tumultuous ‘60s (Danny).

It is a comedy dealing with the all too familiar predicaments of teen love, sex, pregnancy and friendships.

The 2007 revival got its jump start from the critically despised reality show “You’re the One that I Want,” in which the leads for the Broadway show were chosen.

Thankfully for us, neither are playing Danny or Sandy for the tour. Also differentiating itself from previous productions of Grease is the inclusion of four songs that were never on the stage but were in the film version.

Eric Schneider plays Danny with the same energy imagined from Travolta. His voice is reminiscent to the movie star’s, but is not so alike to be a flat out imitation.

For the female lead we have the likeable, but altogether forgettable Emily Padgett. While her voice is strong and hits all the right notes, her portrayal of Sandy is bland, losing what little character she does portray while she sings. The innocence of Sandy and commitment to character was altogether missing, being eventually overshadowed by the supporting female lead, Allie Schulz playing Rizzo.

Stand-outs were definitely Frenchy, played by Kate Morgan Chadwick, and Roger, by Will Blum. Chadwick’s nasal yet raspy voice and her countless failed attempts at being sexy instills much laughter. Blum, while playing a small part, has a voice so crisp you can feel it cut through the air in his duet “Mooning.”

Although Grease features two main characters, the face plastered along the billboards is none other than Taylor Hicks, winner of the fifth season of American Idol. Skeptical at first that his small role was deserving of the advertisement, his performance is possibly the most memorable.

This could be due to the fact that “Beauty School Dropout” is hard to forget in general, adding an Idol joke for a few giggles. His voice truly is the velvet Simon and Paula described and is actually worthy of those posters. Surprisingly, people do still watch Idol, seeing as how a large proportion of the audience were obvious Hicks fans. Fortunately for them Hicks appears after curtain call to perform his latest single.

This is a very classic musical, with rolling props and simple backdrops. Their retro sets allows the actors to be the main focus of the show, unlike flashier musicals with bigger budgets shooting fire into its audiences.

It is not for those who hated the movie, for the musical barely differs and won’t suddenly inspire you to watch Travolta sing falsetto. Beware if you are a fan of the film, for the stage production’s song list and story structure differs, catching you off guard and causes you to slightly resent to change-up.

This Grease is extremely entertaining for the light-hearted and hopelessly devoted fans, but definitely worth trekking out to San Francisco for everyone else.


jerseyirish said...

Nice article, thanks for sharing. It is so nice to see all the positives he is getting from Grease. There have also been some good ones for the CD, so its looking good for Taylor so happy to see that.


Anonymous said...

Everything seems to be going well for Taylor in in the Bay Area. This review by a local Jr. College is very encouraging. He really does a great job in the show, and his stage presence shows why he has top billing. I'm so glad to see him portrayed in a positive light, because it will spill over into his CD sales eventually. Go Taylor!!!!

Nicholas said...

I actually saw some bad reviews from the Bay area earlier this week so it's nice to see a good one here.