This enthusiastic rendition of Grease is an enjoyable evening for fans of the original 1978 film. The much beloved classic, voted #1 musical of all time by Channel 4 in 2003, has been faithfully brought to life by David Gilmore and his talented ensemble.
The musical tells the story of Rydell High during the 50s, and the students within it, in particular, the two star-crossed lovers of Danny and Sandy (portrayed by Tom Parker and Danielle Hope), who are trying to navigate the stormy waters of teenage crushes and peer pressure.
Although Hope is a convincing Sandy, Walker’s Zucko is slightly lacklustre. This may be due to the shadow John Travolta has cast on the role; it’s extremely difficult for other actors to make the part their own. His voice is also not as strong as Hope’s, making their ballads underwhelming. The lack of on-stage chemistry between the two is a disappointment, as it’s meant to be the driving force behind the entire show.
It is lucky, then, that the rest of the cast is able to pull up the energy and deals effortlessly with the high notes and high kicks incorporated into this energetic musical. One of the reasons why Grease is such a challenge for theatre companies is that there are multiple solos awarded to supporting characters, leaving less able members of the chorus with nowhere to hide. But in this production, the background characters – most notably Oliver Jacobson – outshine the main lovers. In comparison to the other couples’ songs (especially Mooning by Ryan Heenan and Rosanna Harris), Sandy and Danny’s Summer Nights falls somewhat flat.
Apart from the cast, the set and costumes present a textbook example of what more money than sense looks like; there are flashy LEDs, multiple costume changes (the prom night dresses are especially impressive), and lots of pyrotechnics. However, if there’s one musical where glitz and glamour isn’t tacky, it would be Grease – it could even be interpreted as the booming post-war excess of America’s golden decade. Complete with all the show tunes from the original, it’s hard not to love this rendition of a classic tale of teenage love.