Grease

Reviewed by Demi Franks

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“If you’re having fun then you’re Number one!”  proclaims a certain Mr. Peter Andre as Vince Fontaine to a packed out Manchester Opera House – and boy he wasn’t wrong!

This Tuesday evening Quay Street was buzzing with excitement and that wasn’t just because it had actually managed to stop raining for an hour, but probably to do with the fact that yes it’s still an absolute treat to have live theatre return to the heart of the city. Amongst the many excitable attendees queuing to take their seats were multiple sets of Manchester’s own Pink Ladies, whom will have waited patiently for over a year to see this latest production.

Although now synonymous with the Travolta/Newton-John illustrious partnership, it’s easy to forget Grease the movie actually succeeded the theatrical production’s New York debut by six years. However, the story of the Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys (the original T-Birds) and their subsequent trials and tribulations as they make the painstaking journey from adolescence to adulthood, still lies at the heart of this cult classic.

Nikolai Foster’s production, originally planned for 2020, but halted due to the Covid pandemic, clearly pays homage to the production’s original predecessors. Foster does a superb job at bringing together all the elements to make this a great comeback for the latest UK touring production.

The production is a visual delight, the characters look every bit the part; the jeans, the jackets and the ‘Grease-y’ hair styles are out in full force. All of which is smoothly complimented by Richmond’s clever and versatile set design, which centres around a 1950’s school gym, manoeuvring and evolving throughout, becoming the school hall, canteen, the local diner, the girls’ bedroom etc. accordingly.

Equally, it’s pure joy to watch Arlene Phillips’ Choreography, which again brilliantly honours the original era, but also packs a little extra punch with some modern elements sprinkled in, providing us with some stand-out ‘WOW’ ensemble moments, including the dance break of both ‘Greased Lightning and ‘We Go Together.

Musically the production was faultless; beautifully arranged by Travis and directed by Glover to get the best out of both the band and the vocal harmonies. It’s easy to forget amongst the classic sing-along smash-hits that there are some delightfully stunning little melodies gifted within the score. Doody’s (Alex Christian) rendition of ‘Those Magic Changes’ produced a beautifully sweet moment, sensitively crafted and wonderfully performed.

Leading the cast, Dan Partridge excellently personifies Danny Zuko with the poise and self-assurance needed, together with Ellie Kingdon (alternate Sandy) whom whilst making her professional debut on this production, stepped in as Sandy for tonight’s performance with hours to spare as part of a couple of last minute cast changes, simultaneously managing to deliver one of the most powerful Hopelessly Devoted To Yous I have ever witnessed, fully deserving the rapturous applause she received at the end of the number.

The cast as a whole are bright, exuberant and energetic, they constantly drive the show forward with confidence and charisma, most certainly breathing fresh life into this old classic. It is utterly refreshing watching this dynamic and vibrant cast doing their thing! Whom, apart from Andre, who did in fact deliver a rather good all-round charming performance once he came down from his raised DJ booth and onto the stage in Act 2, mainly consists of a relatively unknown, fresh, young group of thriving triple threat musical theatre actors.

Although special mention has to go to the ‘scene-stealing’ Jan and Roger (played by Byrne and Barnett respectively), both of which embody these two hilariously-sweet characters so wonderfully.

At times this production veers slightly away from the recognisable ground that die-hard Grease fanatics would be expecting, with a few chop and changes along the way and the inclusion of some lesser known musical numbers. However at the centre of this production remains the same familiar, loveable, funny, warming story of the Rydell High class of 1959.

Forget your Pumpkin Spiced Lattes…this is certainly not only the one that you want, but the one that you need to lift your spirits and give you that warm fuzzy feeling this Autumn.

Grease runs at the Opera House Manchester until 23rd October tickets available here.

Grease

Grease is the word Photo by Paul Coltas

Almost 50 years since it was first imagined by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease The Musical still has huge audience appeal, for us oldies who share happy memories of dancing round their bedrooms pretending to be Rizzo mid ‘Sandra Dee’ to a new younger audience who simply can’t resist a bit of Greased Lightnin’.

The original 1994 London production has been revived by producers Paul Nicholas and David Ian ahead of a 10 month long UK and Ireland tour and boasts some big names on the bill, Tom Parker of The Wanted, Danielle Hope, Winner of BBC’s Over The Rainbow, veteran musical theatre star Darren Day and actress Louisa Lytton of Eastenders fame. Add to this direction from David Gilmore and choreography from Arlene Phillips and you have all the ingredients for an audience hit.

Danny & Sandy Photo by Paul Coltas

There were some nerves on show for Tom Parker who makes his musical theatre debut as Danny Zuko, next to cool as a cucumber Danielle Hope who made for an absolutely brilliant Sandy, Parker grew with confidence during the performance and is backed up by an impressive bunch of T-Birds with Michael Cortez giving a charismatic performance as Sonny, Tom Senior a suitably saucy Kenickie and Ryan Heenan and Oliver Jacobson delivering some great comedic moments as Doody and Roger. Of course where we find T-Birds we also find Pink Ladies, Louisa Lytton makes for a great Rizzo, full of attitude and sass her acting ability seriously impresses, while her voice isn’t as strong as the rest of her girl gang her feisty performance and slick dancing embody absolutely the rebellious Rizzo we all know and love so well. Pink Ladies Rhiannon Chesterman (Frenchy), Rosanna Harris (Jan) and Lauren Atkins (Marty) are all exceptional; they each deliver fine performances and suit their roles perfectly.

Grease Vince Photo by Paul Coltas

When the ensemble cast are on stage is when this production is at its absolute best, from bursting onto the stage full of confidence and attitude for Grease Is the Word right through to the classic You’re The One That I Want, Arlene Phillips’ choreography is slick and delivered with precision, the stage literally lights up with each of these brilliantly staged scenes. The school dance scene is particularly impressive with a great performance from Natasha Mould as the infamous Cha Cha. We also see Darren Day as both Teen Angel/Vince, Day’s vocals are strong and he has huge audience appeal however there’s a couple of odd moments where he breaks into a Jim Carey ‘The Mask’ impression then later Austin Powers, something I’d hope is ditched as the show develops it just didn’t fit with the production whatsoever.

Grease T Birds Photo by Paul Coltas

This is a production that delivers some brilliant performances, as the cast grow in confidence over the next ten months it will no doubt develop into a finely greased machine (sorry I couldn’t resist) with ensemble pieces really packing a punch, and sublime vocals from the seriously talented Danielle Hope, Grease is a fabulous fun night out that will leave you on a high, reminiscing about your very own days as a teen angel.

On at The Palace Theatre until Saturday 25th March tickets available via the link below;

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/grease-2017/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

The Wanted star joins Grease UK Tour

grease870_mainpicture

From the pop world to treading the boards…The Wanted’s Tom Parker is set to embark on his first ever theatrical role as heart throb Danny Zuko in Grease. 

The original West End production of the iconic musical Grease heads out on tour next year, opening at the Palace Theatre Manchester on Friday 10 March 2017.

The original high-school musical features everyone’s favourite characters- Sandy, Danny, the T Birds, Pink Ladies and the whole gang at Rydell High – plus all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word and Summer Nights.

Pop star Tom joins the cast of Grease after amassing worldwide success with his band The Wanted, achieving three platinum albums, two sold out arena tours, and 3 million singles sold in America. After The Wanted split in 2014, 28 year old Tom continued his music and more recently reached the final of Channel 4’s The Jump. Grease will be the word for Tom as he starts rehearsals for the 2017 UK tour of the musical with further casting to be announced soon.

 

For more information, visit www.greasethemusical.co.uk

Or follow them on twitter @greasemusical

For Palace Theatre tickets go to : www.atgtickets.com