MusicalReviewSouth West

Grease The Musical – Bristol Hippodrome

Reviewer: Joan Phillips

Book, music, and lyrics: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Director: Nikolai Foster

It was hard to tell if the goosebumps were from being back in a packed theatre, or if it was chills, multiplying with the opening chords of this popular musical.

Director Nikolai Foster’s Grease – The Musical continues its national tour after being interrupted by the pandemic. Set in 1959 at an American high school (Rydell High), the story follows the lives of ten students at the top of the school, navigating the challenges of romance, friendship, and identity as the class looks forward to the 1959 Halloween Ball.

The original song list (later extended for the film version) contains some of the biggest selling singles of all time, most notably, Summer Nights, and You’re The One That I Want, and it was these (and many others) that sent the electric thrills through the audience, who were delighted to be back in the theatre.

Set in the rock ‘n’ roll era, the show draws heavily on the music, looks, and culture of the time. This hugely influential period lends itself to Jacobs and Casey’s sound, looks, and choreography and provides a wealth of raw material for the production. Choreographer, Arlene Phillips, has plenty of inspiration for some hugely energetic dance routines involving the entire cast at times. Scene and costume designer, Colin Richmond, immerses the production in fashion from the era, dressing the cast in full circle skirts, jeans, and leather jackets. The girl’s backcombed hair and the boy’s greased-down looks are all hugely evocative of this familiar age. Not to be overlooked is the full-size car (‘Greased Lightnin’) pushed on stage – complete with wings and moldings evoking the fifties.

Dan Partridge as Danny Zuko and Ellie Kingdon as Sandy take the principal roles. Peter Andre must be a casting dream as Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine, judging by the roar of approval from the Bristol audience. Strangely, there feels like little chemistry between many of the casting partnerships, and Andre’s ‘moves’ at times seemed perhaps a little rushed and over-repeated. Also somewhat disappointing, is the lack of drama and impact at the introduction of some of the songs, most notably as Sandy makes her tightly clad appearance to shock Danny for You’re The One That I Want. Still more frustrating is the continuing issue with acoustics, when the cast seems to have to shout over the sound of the orchestra and much of the spoken asides are lost.

However, none of that made much difference to the hugely appreciative Bristol audience. Everyone was out of their seats at the end, happy to listen and finally sing-a-long to so many favourite songs of the show, and of all time.

Runs until 25th September 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A timeless musical, hugely appreciated by the Bristol audience

The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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4 Comments

  1. I saw this yesterday with the children- I agree re chemistry & acoustics. It was odd Sandy and Danny barely had anything to do with each other almost all the way through and never seems interested in her the whole production. Also no chemistry at all so you didn’t believe they should end up together (Danny seemed more interested in Patty all the way through)
    The girl who played Frenchie was good.
    Rizzo was poor. They hardly wore their t-bird and pink lady jackets. Shame they didn’t do much with the car following grease lightning- the car just fizzles out.
    Completely agree about ‘The one that I want’ song- a complete damp squib! This should be the pinnacle at the end!! It was awful. ‘Greased Lightning’ song had the best production by far! And I thought Peter Andre was one of the best things about this production.

  2. Saw this on 24/92021 and I was really looking forward to it but I can honestly say i was disappointed . The show started half an hour late as they said there were problems and when it did start the cast were speaking really fast as if they had time to make up. All the classic favourite songs were replaced with songs we have never heard off and certainly not from grease and all the other songs were jumbled up not tallying up with the story line. The pink ladies hardly wore there pink lady jackets and as for the T-Birds there were about 7-8 of them and we couldn’t even make out who was playing Danny as he didn’t stand out at all. Rizzo had a book with her all the way through and it seemed obvious she was checking her lines on the script. The show only livened up when Peter Andre came on as teen angel and vince Fontaine but he shouldn’t of been performing that night but I’m so glad he did as the show needed a boost and he certainly delivered. Well done Pete.

  3. If the original Grease movie had been based on this version’s story, it would never have been a hit.

    Zero character chemistry and confused plot. Knowing the original helps you through it, otherwise you’d never know Danny and Sandy were the main characters.

    The performances of the well known hits was a plus. That part was brilliant. But I think I watched most of it with a quizzical look!

  4. Really disappointed we left halfway through .it’s nothing like the film .the songs were sang in wrong order Danny and sandy didn’t really interact a lot 😕 so boring we couldn’t wait to leave.

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