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Grease – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend

Director: David Gilmour

Musical Director: Barney Ashworth

Choreographer: Arlene Phillips

Reviewer: Maureen Hylands

[rating:5 ]

 

It’s said that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but for those who only wish to refresh their memory, or today’s youngsters who actually want to live it, then this re-creation of Grease is the one that you want!

Straight from the West End it’s an eye-popping, mind-blowing, hand jiving feast of youth at its sweetest best and over-confident worst.

The stirrings of Sandy and Danny’s first love, the heartache of its loss, the joy of recapturing it – all woven into an unforgettable background of evergreen music, lyrics and dance, a fascinating mix of Rydell High characters who rock and roll the story along with naive innocence and cocky bravado, all rooting for each other as they finally work out their destiny for themselves.

Sandy, (Carina Gillespie) and Danny (Danny Bayne, winner of ITV’s Grease Is The Word) our two young lovers, are an irresistible pairing like salt and pepper, Torville and Dean, love and marriage. A perfect duo of extremely gifted performers who capture the very essence of renewed love in a very believable, emotional way, not only in their duets but solos also. Not an easy task.

Bayne’s Danny is a delight from start to finish. A rolling sprinkle of Elvis hip-grinding and Travolta swagger covering the inevitable teen insecurity to perfection, though overall bringing his own inimitable persona to the fore.

His comic timing is a gift he was born with, one that cannot be learnt. The same to be said for his wonderful voice.

Gillespie’s Sandy as his beautiful new-found love is equally as talented, her voice true and clear, her naivety coming across in her acting as genuine sweetness and not stupidity, a very fine line to walk.

Her long awaited entrance as a re-vamped Sandy, could have done with a little more build up, she was on and immediately shocking Danny to the core (beautifully played by both) a little too quickly, not quite giving us enough time to take in her transformation, savour ‘her ‘ moment, and enjoy it.

Teen Angel (Rhydian Roberts, X factor finalist 2007) was a revelation. Blonde quiffed, silver-suited, vocally perfect, he rolled and spun his part to us like a shiny ball of mercury, a wonderful performance with that heart-stirring voice of his resonating straight to our hearts.

The car scene, showing a rust filled heap as it drove on stage, had us near leaping out of our seats when it back-fired with the loudest bang ever and the longest exhaust blowing flame possible without needing to dial 999. Then, later transformed in seconds to a twinkling light-spattered shiny dream of a girl catching pasion waggon for the love-hungry lads. Genius….

We were blessed with a perfectly paced show, the finest song and dance performances possible from an exceptionally talented cast, gorgeously authentic 50s costumes, energy, great script, a myriad of unforgettable songs, humour, and music that had all happy-tapping their feet more often than not.

Everyone concerned in this show giving their all. We could ask for nothing more.

Runs till Saturday, 4th August

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