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'The Original Grease' ½
This is a hugely enjoyable and surprisingly moving re-creation of how "Grease" used to be - before the Bee Gees, the big production numbers and the star with the Australian accent. And at the American Theater Company, it achieves one thing above all else: "Grease" belongs once again to the Northwest Side of Chicago and to the real sons and daughters of its working-class men and women. This is a piece of populist theater about ordinary teenagers. Restored. Original author Jim Jacobs, director PJ Paparelli, set designer Walt Spangler and everyone involved made sure that the kids of Rydell High are finally allowed to be kids again, obsessing over tattoos, cup sizes and prophylactics floating down the Chicago River. You won't hear the songs "Summer Nights" (it's "Foster Beach") or "You're the One That I Want," but you'll hear "Grease," reorchestrated with a harder, tighter edge that better reflects the music of the era.
- CHRIS JONES
Through June 26 at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St.; $45-$50 at 773-409-4125 or atcweb.org