Book, Music, and Lyrics: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Director: David Gilmore
Reviewer: Laura Hesketh
Grease is the word as the touring revival of the smash-hit musical comes rockin’ and rollin’ to Bristol Hippodrome. Complete with hand jives, quiffs and swing skirts this new production, while underwhelming at times, is the perfect opportunity to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
It’s the late 1950s and Danny Zuko (The Wanted‘s Tom Parker) and Sandy Dumbrowski (Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope) have just said their goodbyes after a summer fling. A classic story of boy meets girl, the pair are unexpectedly reunited at Rydell High, and have to navigate their blossoming romance around the T-birds, Pink Ladies and school politics.
A trend for touring musicals, David Gilmore’s revival is brimming with celebrity names who, at times, are out of their depth. Making his musical debut as smooth-talking Danny, Parker hits the right notes and impresses with his energetic dancing. However, his wooden delivery means he fails to shine as the cool leader of the T-bird. While Louisa Lytton captures Rizzo’s feisty nature in the second half of the show, she struggles to hit the big notes in her solo performance of There Are Worst Things I Could.
Hope is the standout star, showcasing outstanding vocals as she charms the audience with her heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of Hopelessly Devoted To You. The supporting cast is also impressive, and Ryan Heenan as Doody, in particular, should be applauded; his performance of Those Magic Changes is a surprising showstopper. Donning a silver suit, special guest star Jimmy Osmond is also joyous as the suave Teen Angel and laps up the audiences’ cheers.
The lack of character development can be forgiven; with over 140 costume changes this production is all about the spectacle. An array of vibrant colours explode onto the stage in the form of wicked neon lights, chic costumes and questionable bubble-gum hair. The spectacular dance routines, choreographed by the legendary Arlene Phillips, are accompanied by music from Griff Johnson’s sensational orchestra and it is a privilege to watch them perform the famous score.
As the memorable movie celebrates its 40th birthday next year, Grease is a show with old school charm. While the scene work lulls at times, this jukebox musical is a feel good maxim and the big numbers will have audiences singing You’re The One That I Want for the rest of the night.
Runs until 10 June 2017 | Image: Paul Coltas