The Grand Theatre, Leeds – 20 July 2019
Reviewed by Sally Richmond
Grease is the word – and the apt words for the new musical tour are: exhilarating, electrifying and energising! The world’s best-loved musical is back and it’s better than ever!
Grease originally opened in Chicago in 1971, followed by a move to Broadway in 1972, where it received seven Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. The 1978 film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John is the fourth highest-grossing live action musical of all time!
Headlining the show as Teen Angel was the fabulous entertainer Peter Andre and he did not disappoint! The multi-talented, fresh, young cast gave non-stop, jam-packed flawless performances but the show hit an all time high when Mr Andre entered the stage, standing at the top of a stairway dressed in white satin with pink tinted wings and hair. The crowd erupted into screams and whistles as he soulfully sang ‘Beauty School Dropout’.
The show, wonderfully choreographed by Arlene Phillips, was filled with favourite Grease tunes (including: Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want) but also included some songs not associated with the movie – or within a different order to what was expected – which was refreshing and made you feel like you were watching something familiar but new!
Dan Partridge and Martha Kirby portrayed the two love-struck teenagers, Danny and Sandy, with charm and gave them a likability factor and it was uplifting to see Sandy having a little bit more spunk and spirit than in the famous film. Rizzo (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) had some real show-stopping moments when delivering pitch perfect lyrics and amusing, sarcastic lines – usually towards Sandy or her on/off boyfriend Kenickie (Louis Gaunt), who wowed us with his impressive back-flips!
Director Nikolai Foster encapsulated the thrilling commemoration of the birth of what it was to be “cool” and the whole phenomena of teenage culture in his adaptation of the Grease the Musical (originally born from the book, music and lyrics of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey). Society was changing and Grease takes us back to that time in 1959, when Elvis was taking the world by storm as was the hand-jive. Scenes were cleverly introduced and smoothly linked through radio DJ commentary provided by the sleazy Vince Fontaine ( Darren Bennett), who gave the audience many laugh out loud moments, alongside whipping the dance contestants of the Rydell High into a frenzy, as they all tried to eagerly to win the coveted trophy..
By the mega thrilling finale, the production of Grease the Musical had the audience up on their feet in seconds, as Peter Andre invited one and all to join in a phenomenal music and dance medley which he fronted. I couldn’t see anyone still sitting as the whole cast gave such infectiously, enthusiastic performances so that no one could want to miss out on becoming part of the celebration and the party.
Feel-good, fabulous and family-show sum up this musical perfectly and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start their Summer Dreams now.