Grease | National Tour |Review


Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Grease began life in 1971 as a theatrical production, before being adapted for the big screen. The director of Grease the Musical, Nikolai Foster, has spoken of his wish to return the show to its theatrical origins and consequently this is a somewhat grittier view of American adolescence in the 1950s than the big-screen version which bears little relationship to the original stage show as written by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs.

The setting is Rydell High School. On the first day of term, leader of the Burger Palace Boys (their original name as opposed to the T Birds), Danny Zuko (an impressive Marley Fenton) tells his gang about his sexual conquest over the summer. At the same time, new student Sandy (the excellent Hope Dawe) tells the Pink Ladies gang about a real gent that she met during the summer. Of course, they are talking about one another. Coincidentally, Sandy has become a student at Danny’s school. The result of this coincidence is that the audience is shown how Danny behaves differently around his mates, eager as he is to keep up the bravado.

Controversially (spoiler alert!), at the end of the story Sandy conforms to the ‘Greasers’ and changes her look to fit in with the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies although this was deliberately spoofing movies of the period when it is the rebel who usually gives up his bad ways and decides to turn over a new leaf. Instead of having the bad boy repent and become a good guy at the end which is what the audience is expecting, the good girl goes bad although this has long been misunderstood by audiences and critics alike.

The young cast are enthusiastic and ensure the high energy levels remain constant throughout and in this version all of the principal members of the cast get their moments in the limelight. Highlights include Mooning which is beautifully sung by Jan (Emerald B) and Roger (Lewis Day) and Those Magic Changes which is brilliantly sung and played by Kieran Lynch as Doody. Rebecca Stenhouse also deserves a special mention for capturing both sides of the character of Rizzo, cocky and self assured one minute and vulnerable the next. Her rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do brings the house down. George Michaelides’ Kenickie is slightly underplayed although I’m sure this will improve as the tour progresses and Joe Gash as both Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel could learn from the expression ‘less is more’.

Grease the Musical is unlikely to be included in your top 5 musicals of all time (or even your top 10) however a clever set design by Colin Richmond which is innovatively used by the cast and exquisite lighting by Ben Cracknell together with polished performances (in the main) and an outstanding ensemble ensures this is a great night out.

Catch it if you can.


Reviewer: Patric Kearns