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Grease The Musical – Newcastle Theatre Royal

Reviewer: Lesley Oldfield

Book, Music and Lyrics: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Director: Nikolai Foster

Grease is still most definitely the word. Long before the legendary 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, Grease The Musical was a stage hit – and it has truly endured.

The teenage longings, dreams and disappointments it plays out can’t fail to resonate with the audience when teamed with superb song and dance routines from such a talented cast.

Arlene Philips, now 81, choreographed the high-energy 1990s production and – just before working on Guys & Dolls – added more magic to this reworking of Grease.

Director Nikolai Foster has reintroduced numbers from the original show by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs, which creates a much fuller offering, with most cast members getting their moment in the spotlight.

Unlike so very many musicals of recent years, there is no celebrity name to draw the crowds, and none is needed. The vocals are strong across the board and when, as they often do, the whole cast are singing and dancing together – well, what more could one ask of a musical?

Marley Fenton makes a great Danny Zuko and he and Hope Dawe as Sandy shine as the couple at the heart of the story. In case you are unfamiliar with the plot, he leads the cool guys at Chicago’s 1959 Rydell High, while earnest Sandy struggles to fit in with the cool Pink Ladies.

But the other characters provide some of the evenings highlights.

Rebecca Stenhouse as Rizzo is the one who gives everyone goosebumps with her rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do, and Alicia Belgarde as Frenchy is a delight as a bewildered Beauty School Dropout.

This hilarious number sees members of the ultra macho gang of Burger Palace Boys – who strut and muscle their way through most songs – prancing through the campest of dances in pink, with matching wings. Watch out for Alicia hand-springing across the stage in the wonderful medley which closes the show.

Joe Gash as DJ Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel hams up his dual roles to comic effect, and George Michaelides as Kenickie lifts effortlessly off his feet as he jumps in and off the scenery for Greased Lightning.

The cast are miked, very loudly, and costumed beautifully, working with plenty of quick set changes and a staggeringly tall pair of moving staircases, no matter how high their heels.

The unveiling of Sandy’s final transformation gets a little lost, perhaps because women changing to please their partners isn’t a popular move these days.

However, that is a minor matter. Grease the Musical is unfailingly entertaining and to be recommended as a great night out at the theatre.

Runs until 15 June, 2024

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. 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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One Comment

  1. Grease- Newcastle Theatre Royal 14 June 2024.

    Great Show and cast, but let down by Sandys voice lacking power and depth for the shows songs

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