Let’s face it, you already know the story of Grease – the movie has become a touchstone for all musicals that came after it, the characters have become iconic, the songs anthemic – and, happily, it’s recreated very well in this all-singing, all-dancing production.
Those who picked up a programme will have come across the revelation that Grease was a stage-show in the 70s before it was a film, but a packed Sunderland Empire was treated to all of the classic tunes from the movie. While there was less filler between tunes than in the film, the story flowed well and its quick pace matched the show’s buoyant mood.
Danielle Hope was an absolute knock-out as Sandy – her voice carried the songs well and particularly shone on the classic ballad Hopelessly Devoted to You, while Tom Parker was great as top T-Bird Danny, ruling the roost.
Of the supporting cast, the big name in the production is Louisa Lytton who turned in a performance full of attitude as the feisty Rizzo. Her performance of Sandra Dee was full of raunchy sarcasm. The supporting cast and the band (interestingly placed above the stage) all played their parts well. The songs were sung and played with gusto and the performers’ enjoyment for their work was infectious.
A word or two also for the special effects. They were staggering. Before going into the show, I wondered how they were going to get a 1950s convertible on stage for Greased Lightning. Perhaps they wouldn’t even bother and they’d do some sort of method acting to make the audience believe the car was there. Maybe they’d just work the front of a car into the backdrop. Nope. They had a car. They drove it onto the stage and, utilising either expert stage-craft (or magic, probably magic), they turned it from a ‘hunk of junk’ into the systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic car from the movie we all know and love.
You already know whether or not you’re interested in seeing this show. That will depend on what you think of the film. If you’re a fan of John, Olivia and the rest, you’ll absolutely love this.
Grease plays at the Sunderland Empire until 6 May and can then be seen at the following North East and Yorkshire venues:
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre: 18–23 September
Bradford Alhambra Theatre: 9–14 October
Newcastle Theatre Royal: 16–21 October