Review: Grease (touring) Nottingham Theatre Royal

Grease the Musical

Directed by Nikolai Foster

Choreographed by Arlene Phillips

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Theatre Royal Nottingham – Touring

Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st August, 2021

What a treat to be asked to review the first new production in 25 years of Jim Jacobs’ & Warren Casey’s iconic musical Grease. The 1978 film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and has a unique place in filmgoers’ hearts, so I am very intrigued as to how the musical measures up.

Grease is the classic ‘boy meets girl’ tale, wherein Danny and Sandy duly meet and embark on a blissful summer romance. Their affections are tested, however, when she enrols for senior year at the infamous Rydell High. Here cliques and factions are rife and a leather-jacketed ‘greaser’ would never ordinarily look twice at this wholesome girl-next-door. As battlelines are drawn, can true love prevail or will summer dreams be ripped at the seams?

Dan Partridge reprises the role of Danny whilst Georgia Louise plays Sandy. The latter gives Sandy more bite and spirit than the character has in the film. This less saccharine version of Sandy, in tandem with Louise’s powerful and emotive singing voice, is a definite hit with this reviewer. Hopelessly Devoted to You is a memorably moving highlight.

The abiding appeal of Grease is its relatability. Teenage life in all its machinations – unrequited love, group hierarchies, the emphasis on appearance and the sheer intensity of emotion at that crucial time of life. These themes resonate because they are part of growing up, whatever your age. Directed by Nikolai Foster, this production encapsulates that universal experience and there are moments of genuine poignancy to accompany the comedy. Like the eponymous song, this interpretation has both ‘groove’ and ‘meaning.’

The set design for Grease is ingenious. Everything comes together to transport us back to 1959 and to give you all the ‘electrifyin’ chills. There is a high school hall with its accoutrements, an American diner and, of course, the car. Greased Lightnin’ is one of my favourite numbers from the whole evening. The choreography by Arlene Phillips is updated from the film version yet remains true to its retro roots. Grease is a visual spectacle and there is so much to take in and enjoy.

My favourite moments are when the company come together. This is a fresh young cast full of talent and seemingly boundless energy. They act, sing and dance with 100% commitment. They want the audience to have a wonderful time and we do. Paul French plays Kenickie along with Tendai Rinomhota as Rizzo. They are joined by Alex Christian (Doody), Josh Barnett (Roger), Inez Budd (Marty), Maeve Byrne (Jan), Marianna Neofitou (Frenchy), Corinna Powlesland (Miss Lynch) and Cristian Zaccarini (Sonny). Every single one deserves a mention as they all work their ‘bobby sox’ off to make this show a rip-roaring and riotous success.

The audience for Grease has come to party. They clap along, stamp their feet, and sing loudly to the big-ticket songs. Thecast at this performance are joined by Peter Andre who takes on the role of Teen Angel, Vince Fontaine, and the Sergeant. When he arrives on stage as Fontaine, every pelvic thrust is met with whooping and cheering. This makes for a raucous atmosphere in the auditorium. By the time the Grease mega-mix comes around, the audience is on its feet, blasting out all the old favourites (with the bonus of being permitted to take photos at this point.) If you are looking for a rollicking good night out and you want to leave the theatre with the biggest smile on your face, then Grease is the show for you.

Peter Andre is only appearing at certain venues and performances. Please check individual box offices for more information.

Booking Theatre Royal Nottingham

Lisa Chamberlain

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