Book, Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Director: David Gilmore
Reviewer: Natasha Hegarty
Set in the 1950s, Grease is probably one of the most famous – and best – musicals of all time, spawning, of course, the hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. It follows a couple of teenagers, Danny Zuko (The Wanted’s Tom Parker) and Sandy Dumbrowski (Danielle Hope), who, having said their reluctant goodbyes after a summer romance, suddenly find themselves reunited and thrown together again at Rydell High. Here, they have to navigate their feelings around the cool kids and the usual high school politics.
There’s no doubt that this is a feel-good show with familiar music and some great new additions – fabulous ‘50s costumes and cool neon strip lighting-filled set. It’s like an explosion of colour and every scene is decorated spectacularly.
Grease is full of fun dance numbers which make it difficult not to want to get up and join them; the cast dazzle with the fabulous choreography by celebrated choreographer Arlene Philips. The talented ensemble really shines here and brings the numbers to life, accompanied by music from Griff Johnson’s amazing orchestra who are simply a joy to watch.
All the famous hits are here with the brilliant Greased Lightning one of the best, featuring Kenickie’s (Tom Senior) car, which backfires loudly and shoots fire out of the exhaust – a brilliant moment. Beauty School Dropout is another fun number, with George Olney really hamming it up and playing to the delighted audience: it goes down a treat.
The cast is littered with celebrities and unfortunately these are the performances which let the musical down in places. Parker can’t keep up with the rest of the cast vocally and his acting choices are rather wooden so his Danny Zuko doesn’t come off as a great leading man. All the things we love about Danny as a character, the cool, suave leader of the T-Birds, just aren’t there. In fact, his buddies are far better when they’re on their own.
The rest of the T-Birds are brilliant and are each given their own moments to shine, though Ryan Heenan as Doody is definitely a standout performance: his rendition of Those Magic Changes is definitely a highlight. They all have a great chemistry together and their scenes are among the best elements of the show.
Hope has a beautiful voice as Sandy. She gets to exercise her comedic performance during Rydell Fight Song, which also features the hilarious Gabriella Williams as Patty.
Former EastEnders actress Louisa Lytton has Rizzo’s mannerisms spot on but unfortunately doesn’t bring as much of the attitude of the character to her singing. There are Worse Things I Could Do needs to be full of emotional punch but its performance lacks that charge.
There is something a little lacking though with this production. The huge moments aren’t really big enough. The high school dance competition should be a massive moment for the production and it is just a bit flat and hardly anything really happens – though the dancing is fantastic here.
However, the big musical numbers are really fun and the cast performing as a whole company is really wonderful. Grease is full of nostalgia, dancing and great music, and it’s definitely worth a watch for a fun night out.
Runs until 2 September 2017 | Image: Paul Coltas