By COLIN MACLEAN -  Staff Writer
Edmonton Sun ~ Friday, May 9, 2003

You can go home after all.

Mom and dad may be gone, your old grade school a parking lot and your childhood address a 7-Eleven, but there is one place that remains resolutely untouched by time.

Rydell High
The girls still wear bobby socks, the nerds sport saddle shoes and the greasers stick back their hair.  In today’s world where everything seems disposable, Rydell High stands forever as it was in the ‘50s.

Of course, Rydell is the high school at the centre of this surprising Citadel Theatre celebration of the youth you never had.  Surprising, because if ever there was a show that has spent too long in the oven, it’s Grease. Is there a high school in the world that hasn’t produced it?

But director Bob Baker is a theatrical alchemist, turning dramatic dress into pure gold. Cheerfully cherry-picking moments, costumes, songs and dances from the original 1971 production, the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John movie, the newer Tommy Tune Broadway version and his own seemingly inexhaustible bags of theatrical tricks, he has pumped vital new life into the old warhorse.  (With the help of choreographer Krista Monson, who matches Baker’s high-spirited vision step by exuberant step.)

The dramatic elements are pitched just over the top, the acting performed in

John Ullyatt and Pamela Gordon

the grand manner, the singing is full-bodied and delivered with zip and the production

 numbers are, well, I don’t think thrilling is too strong a word.  Just wait till you catch the entire company givin’ ‘er to We Go Together or Summer Nights.

The movie was tailored for Travolta and Newton-John but here, freed from the shackles of mounting a star vehicle, Baker is able to spotlight others in his talented cast.

Consequently, Christian Goutsis as Doody delivers a knockout version of Those Magic Changes, Scott Walters shines as Kenickie in Greased Lightning (a love song sung to a car) and Aaron Walpole and Shelley Simester are romantic in Mooning, a homage to baring your bottom for fun and recreation. Lindsay Thomas bounces all over the stage as cheerleader Patty Simcox - and can that girl dance.  The two gangs – the Pink Ladies and the Greasers – interact within their groups with energy and fun.

Each of the characters gets their moment and all make the very best of it.

Celina Stachow’s aspiring hairstylist Frenchy is appealing and she has one of the best musical theatre voices around.

Briana Buckmaster unleashes a strong, clear voice as Rizzo, the embittered leader of the Pink Ladies.  This Rizzo makes more sense than the near psychotic reading Stockard Channing gave in the movie.

Ashley Wright brings an imposing heft to his Miss Lynch, avoiding the temptation to overplay the cross-dressing and delivery, to present a character with some dignity (but funny).

Coming off their memorable pairing in last year’s Cabaret, Baker’s leads are pedal to the metal all the way.

John Ullyatt’s Danny is softer and more vulnerable than Travolta’s swaggering dude, but it’s a valid and convincing take.  Under his “cool” we see that Danny is kind of a sweet guy.  His song, Sandy, sung when she walks out on him at the drive-in, is the anguished cry of a kid with raging hormones who can’t figure out the opposite sex.

Pamela Gordon, besides unleashing that big voice of hers in songs like Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee and Hopelessly Devoted to You, manages to pull off the impossible – she makes Sandy, surely one of the blandest creations in all of theatre, into a flesh-and-blood character.

And Then There's Bobby Curtola

There could be no other Teen Angel in this country. We first see him in silhouette at the top of a huge staircase and then when he finally appears in his silver lamé suit to exhort Frenchy, the beauty school dropout, to “go back to high school.” There is no doubting the charisma of a star that has held audiences for 50 years.  Maybe he’s not quite hitting those big high notes anymore but you can see the undimmed twinkle in his eye as he commands the stage.

Any small problems I saw in the preview I was permitted to attend no doubt evaporated by opening night.

The top price may range around $70 but let me tell you it’s worth it.  Get your tickets because Grease is the word and when it gets around, there won’t be a seat left.    Grease ends the Citadel’s season playing on the Shoctor Stage and is already held over.

Bobby Curtola 
~ Our Teen Angel ~



Canada’s Rock n’ Roll Legend
Joins the Citadel Cast of Grease

September 5, 2002
Edmonton, Alberta

EDMONTON, AB – Bob Baker, Artistic Director of Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre announced today Canada’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Legend, Bobby Curtola will be joining the cast of Grease running May 3 – June 1, 2003 as Teen Angel.

“We are thrilled to have a true Rock n’ Roll Legend bring his amazing talents and experience to our production of Grease,” says Bob Baker. “Canada’s Teen Idol is now Edmonton’s Teen Angel.”

In 1959, 16 year old high school student Bobby Curtola went from pumping gas at his father’s garage in Thunder Bay, Ontario to the life a Teenage Idol.  With his handsome boy next door looks, everywhere he went there were throngs of teenage girls screaming after him.  Bobby Curtola’s hit after hit included 25 Canadian Gold Singles and 12 Canadian Gold Albums with songs like “Fortune Teller,” and “Hand in Hand with You.”

Bobby Curtola calls the Edmonton area home and playing Teen Angel is his gift to Edmonton.  The role of Teen Angel was originated by Alan Paul in the New York cast on Broadway and played by Frankie Avalon in the Grease motion picture.

Pamela Gordon and John Ullyatt from last season’s sold-out Nine Sterling Award winning hit Cabaret, are reunited at the Citadel for Grease May 3 – June 1, 2003 in a dazzling and highly entertaining musical.  Audiences around the world have joined forces with the class of ’59 at Rydell High to make this one of the most popular and longest running musicals ever.

Grease is sponsored by:
CN, Fraser Milner Casgrain, Edmonton Journal, A-Channel, EZ Rock 104.9 FM, Pattison, and Billy’s Guide

For interviews, photos or review tickets, please contact:
Salena McDougall, Media Relations Coordinator
Office: 428-2109 Email:
Visit our website at:

Bobby Curtola at the Grease Press Conference
Edmonton, Alberta ~ September 5, 2002
Bobby and WHERE Magazine editor, Kirsty Spence
2002-2003 Season 

MAY 3 – JUNE 1, 2003

Book, Music & Lyrics by 
Directed by BOB BAKER

Canada's Rock 'n Roll Legend Joins the Cast of Grease!
The Citadel Theatre is delighted to announce that international recording star Bobby Curtola will be joining the cast of Grease as Teen Angel!

Cabaret, last year's musical starring John Ullyatt and Pamela Gordon, sold out. CALL 425-1820 now to subscribe and guarantee your seats for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Bobby live!

Pamela Gordon and John Ullyatt from last season’s hit Cabaret, are reunited in this dazzling and highly entertaining musical. Audiences around the world have joined forces with the class of ’59 at Rydell High to make this one of the most popular and longest running musicals ever. Grease is escapism, rock ’n roll and nostalgia wrapped in a package that’ll have you singing and dancing in the aisles and looking for those old high school jackets and poodle skirts in your closet.

"A lively funny musical… it’s a winner." - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"A snappy, sparkling, exhilarating show." - DAILY VARIETY

THE BOX OFFICE  (780) 425-1820   TOLL FREE  1-888-425-1820 

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