Grease, The Bridge House Theatre, Warwick, to Dec 1
It was 40 years ago that Grease the movie arrived at our cinemas and created the iconic characters of Danny Zucko and Sandy Olsson, imprinting the images of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on our memories for ever.
The original stage musical was improved by adding the classic songs You’re the One that I Want, and Hopelessly Devoted to You.
Now the story of teenage love and rock ‘n’ roll rebellion is brought to The Bridge House Theatre by Stratford Musical Theatre Company and everyone is ready for a fast-paced hand jive at the high school hop.
The show gets off confidently with Grease (is the word, of course!) and then swiftly into Summer Nights. We know the story, boy meets girl, boy needs to maintain his image with his gang, girl struggles to fit into new school and ultimately accepts that she needs to mature in order to snare her man again.
Throw in the difficult subject of teenage pregnancy and rival gangs, and you’re home and dry. Or are you?
The characters seemed mostly under-developed, apart from Rizzo (a snarling, almost cat-like performance from Bex Lou Walton), Sonny (an energetic Tom Pedley), Frenchy (a charmingly sweet Clare Sykes) and Patty (the goody-goody Johanna Massey).
Doug Gilbey-Smith delivered a lively performance as Kenickie and doubled up nicely as the Teen Angel for Beauty School Drop Out.
But I was left wondering if director Tim Willis had edited the script. If not, then the impact of the movie looms too great and the two leads had some big suede shoes to fill. I was not convinced that either was hopelessly devoted or stranded at the drive-in, despite their fine singing voices.
The evening’s surprisingly memorable songs were both sung by Doody (Ian Meikle) in Those Magic Changes and then with lovely harmonies from Roger (Isaac Alun-Jones) in Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Queen. The cast were at their best during such classics as Greased Lightnin and We Go Together, the latter with superb choreography from Julie Bedlow-Howard, and fantastic energy from all the performers especially dancer Sam Walton.
Ultimately the songs are what we were there for, and they were delivered extremely well. So put another dime in the jukebox and get down to Rydell High before school’s out!
Rehearsal pictures by David Fawbert Photography.