From the sound of the first on-stage horn, I was excited, bouncing in my seat, grinning from ear to ear… because let me tell you; Grease IS the word at the Regent Theatre this week!
I honestly don’t know where to start with this review, because I am still buzzing with the feel-good vibes from the show a day later. Let’s begin with a bit of a run-down of the show’s plot, for anyone who has been living under a rock since the movie of the same name was released in 1978. Grease is basically a good version of High School Musical, set in the 1950’s. Think slick-backed quiffs, mid-length skirts with a billion petticoats, and cigarettes which actually make smoking look cool (awkward…). The story follows Danny (Tom Parker of UK hit band The Wanted) and Sandy (Danielle Hope who became famous on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy on primetime television’s Over the Rainbow a few years back). It is a pretty classic love story; boy meets girl, both fall in love, boy doesn’t know how to handle his feelings so lies and tells all his friends that girl ‘puts out’, girl finds out, gets mad at boy, but somehow ends up forgiving him and they all live happily ever after. Sorry for the spoiler, but to be honest, the plot isn’t even in the top five most amazing things about the show, so you won’t mind.
Oh, and then there is a whole cast of incredible supporting characters… Rizzo (Louise Lytton, from Eastenders), Kenickie (Tom Senior), Frenchie (Rhiannon Chesterman) and so many more. And a great big shout-out to understudy Anthony Hughes who covered the bit-part role of Eugene with hilarious flair.
The hair, makeup and costumes were fantastic, and have set me on a real 1950’s style obsession. In fact, I am even considering having my hair cut like Rizzo’s the next time I go for the chop. Do you think I could pull it off? I digress.
Following my experience at Sister Act not long ago, I am so into performances which feature the musicians on the stage, and Grease didn’t disappoint in this respect… The show that was apparently entirely composed on guitar, displayed their rock-and-brass band musicians for the world to see, and the talent there was incredible. It was great to see the band just having a good time with one another, and not a note was out of place. Actually, at one point I was wondering if they might have been ‘miming’ their instruments because the music sounded so close to the original movie soundtrack. Super-impressive.
Let’s dip into the negatives for just a moment, because there has to be balance to every review. I found that there were some un-necessary changes to the plotline, although Lytton’s acting and dancing were fantastic, her voice wasn’t as strong as I’d have wanted it to be, and yes, I accept that Parker is very nice to look at, but considering he was working the main part of the show, I couldn’t help but feel he was totally uncharismatic with again, a weaker voice than I had hoped.
Oh, and without wanting to get into a moan and rant, as a feminist there is a lot in Grease that makes me feel uncomfortable; not taking a woman’s lack of sexual consent seriously (‘Did she put up a fight?!), the constant objectification of the girls (‘We’ll be getting’ lots of titties’) and the fact that Sandy completely abandons her morals in order to become what Danny is saying she is to all of his friends. And I find it really mean that Patty and Eugene get basically bullied throughout. Bleaugh.
But I enjoyed it. Really, I did!
Set design was incredible, and my favorite songs ‘Grease is the Word’, ‘Those Magic Changes’ and ‘We Go Together’ had me dancing in my seat and humming them all around Tesco’s after the show had finished. And the choreography in ‘We Go Together’, ‘Born to Hand Jive’ and ‘Beauty School Dropout’ made me wish I had gone to theatre school, for sure.
The real stand-out of the show was Hope in her portrayal of Sandy with her earth-shattering, goose-pimpling voice. I would go as far as to say she is BETTER than the original Olivia Newton John. There, I said it. And if you saw the show, you were probably thinking it too!
There are worse things you could do than see Grease this week; trust me when I say, if you only see one show this year, Grease is the one that you want… it is the great way to enjoy the remainder of the springtime and welcome in some hot summer nights. (*Groan, but, I couldn’t help it*)