Grease The Musical Review

Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton – until Saturday 18th May 2024

Review by Amanda Allen


For a certain generation the film Grease holds a special place in our hearts and our memories, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see this iconic story on stage, could it possibly be as good? I had imagined the performance would be limited as the film is so BIG in every way and I couldn’t I see how they would fit it on to a stage. However, I was pleasantly surprised, It was incredible.

From the very start the energy of the performance was off the scale, the dancing and singing used intelligently to tell the story of the youth of its time. Rather than just throw loads of songs and dance numbers around the stage, every move earned it place in the story. A great example is when they sing the iconic song Greased Lightening, they don’t start dancing until halfway through as the lyrics about the boy’s fantasy regarding his car are almost too powerful and important to be overshadowed by too much movement. Thus, when the dancing does start its even more moving and powerful.

We all know our favourite songs from the film and I am pleased to say they were all in the stage show. My particular favourite is “There are worse things I could do”, a power ballad sung by Betty Rizzo. In the film this is sung just to herself as a reflection of her life but in the stage show its sung by Rizzo to Sandy, almost as an argument about lifestyle choices, an intelligent change for the stage performance. The new songs fitted in so well it was hard to identify which they were, it was almost as if you already knew them. The role of Betty Rizzo was played brilliantly for this performance by stand in Imogen Malone, she managed to convey both the confidence and vulnerability of the character brilliantly throughout the show, a future leading lady.

The DJ Vince Fontayne, played by Joe Gash was consistently fantastic, with so much energy conveyed so well through the persona of a slightly dodgy DJ he was the thread that drew all the scenes together. Along with George Michaelides who played Kenikie and Alicia Belgarde as Frenchy, they provided so much fast paced dancing, singing and depth of character that the show sped along at an amazingly fast pace. The quality of the dancing and choreography by Arlene Phillips was tremendous throughout, how they got so much movement by so many dancers into such a small space, especially when dancing around a full sized car had to be seen to be believed.

The main Characters of Danny Zuko (Marley Fenton) and Sandy Dumbrowski (Hope Dawe) were played really well, both Danny and Sandy had very strong singing voices that conveyed their emotions and feelings so well throughout the show. The Beauty School Dropout song/scene was presented with fabulous panache, so much pink! All very flamboyant, very camp and perfectly suited to the passive aggressive words being sung.

I was really pleased that much of the iconic film was present in the stage performance such as Sandy’s final line “Tell me about it Stud” and the spray on tight black trousers in the last scene. By the end of the show I was exhausted, just from watching it. I ended the show with a massive smile on my face, along with everyone else in the theatre, the final song and dance sequence leaving us all with very happy memories and singing our favourite songs all the way home. If you need taking back to your youth and cheering up I urge you to go and see it whilst you can.