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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Roanoke Times Critic "Can't See The Forest ..."

Beth Jones, writing for the Roanoke Times, found the theatrical production of "Grease," now playing at Mill Mountain Theatre, to be too sanitized. She is upset that the show didn't include mention of the trauma of segregation that the USA was going through in the 1950's.

I don't think she's kidding.
'Grease' is fun fare, but glosses '50s' warts
By Beth Jones, The Roanoke Times

Every six months or so, I'll find in my in-box a forwarded e-mail that touts the virtues of the 1950s - how no one locked their doors at night and all your neighbors knew your name - without mentioning the horrific thunderstorms of the time like segregation.

"Grease," which first appeared on Broadway in 1972, has been called a satirical look at the era's morals, but I'd say that's stretching; it unabashedly skips over the sour bits of life in favor of poodle skirts and sock hops.

Director and choreographer Bernard Monroe, with much help from set designer Jimmy Ray Ward, joyfully embraces the show's nostalgia for Mill Mountain Theatre's production, creating a confectionery vision that, though far from thought-provoking, makes for a fun night. (link)

I don't know who this woman is but if she is paid to be a theatre critic, God help the Roanoke Times. Did she attend the show not knowing what it was going to be about? Did she think it was going to be an expose on the McCarthy era? The arms race? The Prague uprising?

If she was disappointed that the cast of characters in "Grease" didn't include Orval Faubus and KKK Grand Kleagle Robert Byrd, she's going to be really upset when she goes to see "South Pacific." It has nary a mention of the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. And when she goes to see "Annie Get Your Gun," and finds out that it doesn't mention the massacre at Wounded Knee, why, I'm afraid for her mental stability.

Somebody grab the smelling salts.

Look. "Grease" is fun. It is now a classic. Because it doesn't give consideration to Jim Crow segregation - or to menstrual cramps - shouldn't take away from what is, by all accounts, an entertaining show.

Next time, Beth, keep your political prejudices out of your reviews.

Or give it up and run for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.