Grease is still the word in 1950s rock-and-roll musical comedies. That’s why Broadway Series South brought back this sure-fire hit, produced by Phoenix Productions and Magic Arts & Entertainment and directed by Ray DeMattis, as part of its 2002-2003 Encore Series.

Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s marvelous 1972 musical trip down Memory Lane to the Golden Age of rock-and-roll in the late 1950s is a perennial crowd-pleaser. It is also the fifth-longest running musical in Broadway history, thanks to an outstanding score that includes “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “We Go Together,” and “Born to Hand Jive.”

Grease opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway on February 14, 1972. It ran for 3,388 performances.

There is no better Baby-Boomer nostalgia musical than Grease, whose current National Tour stars Jamey Isenor as studly leathered-jacketed Danny Zuko and Hanna-Liina Võsa as wholesome and innocent bobby-soxer Sandy “Sandra Dee” Dumbrowski. When the tough-talking leader of the Burger Palace Boys neighborhood gang of juvenile delinquents falls head over heels for this Gidget-like newcomer, something’s got to give. And it eventually does.

Smartly staged by director Ray DeMattis and flamboyantly choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, Grease also features animated accompaniment by a hard-rocking orchestra under the direction of Steven M. Bishop, an eye-catching set design by James Youmans, and fabulous 1950s fashions by Wendall Goings. Mike Baldassari’s evocative lighting design and the sound design by Craig Cassidy also help make Grease the last word in 1950s rock-and-roll musicals.

The New York Daily News saluted the original Broadway production of Grease as a “lively and funny musical — as well as the dancingest one in town — that brings back the look and sound of the teenage world of the late 1950s with glee. It’s a winner…. The songs… are dandies [that portray] the early rockers… with zip and charm…. The sheer energy of ‘Grease’ carries all before it.” Newsweek called Grease “hugely entertaining,” and Hollywood Variety saluted this “snappy, sparkling, exhilarating show.”

Broadway Series South presents Grease Tuesday-Friday, March 18-21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 22, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $17.50-$57.50. 919/834-4000 or [inactive 12/03]. Groups of 20+: 919/231-4575 or [inactive 4/04] or (inactive 8/03).