Book, Music and Lyrics: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Director: Nikolai Foster
Grease is the word in Sheffield this week as the hit musical plays to packed houses at the Lyceum. This Made at Curve production, directed by Nikolai Foster, goes back to how the show was originally written. It’s more gritty than other incarnations of the musical and it feels real. Colin Richmond’s design helps to ground the piece. Everything is set against the backdrop of a school gymnasium, with moving platforms depicting different locations. Douglas O’Connell’s video design is spectacular and also helps to depict the different settings. Of course, all the songs you know and love are in there including We Go Together, You’re the One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted to You. However, this production also includes several songs that haven’t been seen on stage since the film came out and this really develops some of the characters. With a terrific young cast and fantastic choreography from Arlene Phillips, this show is a feel-good production which is definitely what we all need.
The cast is led by Dan Partridge, who returns to the role of Danny, and Ellie Kingdon, who is the alternate for Sandy. Partridge is a true star. His vocals are exceptional and his characterisation is spot on. He makes the character a little unlikeable but this really works and really adds to Sandy’s storyline. Kingdon is equally outstanding, with a beautifully rich voice. Her rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You is powerful and emotionally charged. Her transformation does seem to come somewhat out of the blue though and does feel a little jarring in today’s world.
Understudy Elliot Gooch is playing Kenickie for the show’s run in Sheffield. He gives a brilliant performance. Greased Lightning is full of energy and a real highlight of the show. The Burger Palace Boys, as they’re called in this version of the musical, are completed by Alex Christian as Doody, Josh Barnett as Roger and Christian Zaccarini as Sonny. The group has a fantastic rapport and all get their moments to shine: particularly Barnett’s rendition of Mooning – brilliant fun and very strong vocals.
Tendai Rinomhota gives a strong performance as Rizzo. She is a great actor and she really makes the character feel completely real. Maeve Byrne’s Jan brings a huge amount of the energy to the show and she has great comic timing. Hannah-Faith Marram does a good job as Marty but the character isn’t quite written as well as the others and can sometimes get lost in the group. Marianna Neofitou’s Frenchy is fun but can sometimes feel a little bit like a caricature. She is warm and likeable but it’s a shame the character doesn’t get a song.
The cast is completed by an incredibly talented supporting cast. Jacob Young is great fun as Johnny Casino and gets to show his gorgeous vocals. As Peter Andre isn’t appearing at Sheffield Lyceum, Jacob Fisher takes on the roles of Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel and he is truly exceptional. His vocals are effortless and his characterisation is spot on. His stage presence is strong, whilst not detracting from the narrative and important action on the stage.
This is a fantastic production of Grease. Kay Magson CDG, with David Grindrod CDG, has assembled a brilliant cast packed full of talent that we should all keep our eyes out for in the future. Arlene Phillips’ choreography is sensational and full of energy as would be expected from this show, whilst Nikolai Foster’s direction grounds the piece in reality.
Be sure to get your tickets before it’s too late – tickets are selling as fast as Greased Lightning!
Runs until 9th October 2021