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Grease is the word!

Greased Lightnin'. Photo © Martin Pulley.

Grease the Musical, Rugby Theatre ‘s Summer Youth Project, running from 9 to 13 August 2023. Directed by Marina Abdeen. Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

Review by Ann Evans

There’s something about Grease the Musical that always brings a smile to people’s faces. Perhaps it’s the classic songs that we all know so well: Summer Nights, You’re the One That I Want, Greased Lightnin’… Or the iconic characters made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. No doubt its the combination of these that never fail to delight us - and which we are treated to in full by these young performers from the Rugby area.

Evie Goodwin as Cha Cha with Danny played by Dexter Robinson. Photo © Martin Pulley.

Rugby Theatre’s decision of staging Grease the Musical as their 23rd Youth Project was an excellent choice. The youngsters – almost 60 young people clearly enjoyed every moment of their show. They were all massively enthusiastic, they knew their lines, the songs and the dance routines and they each made their character their very own. A fantastic achievement when you realise all this was realised in just two weeks!

Megan Gyles who plays Sandy and the Pink Ladies. Photo © Martin Pulley.

Project Director Philip Kettle explained that they chose Grease partly as a tribute to the sadly departed Olivia Newton-John whose anniversary was practically to the day of the opening night, 8 August 2022. But also because Grease is an energetic show packed with great songs. "After the Covid enforced break, we needed something special to relaunch the annual Youth Project at Rugby Theatre," said Philip Kettle. "I hope that we have succeeded in producing a show that is special for you."

Cheer leader practise. Photo © Martin Pulley.

Credit must also go to the Production Team which includes the Director, Marina Abdeen, the Musical Director Jonathan Rees and the Choreographer Craig Scott. And I can imagine they will be thrilled by last night’s opening performance which saw every cast and ensemble member singing and dancing their hearts out!

Teen Angel Jasper Delgado-Major and little angels! Photo © Martin Pulley.

Early solo spots must have been nerve wracking for the individual young actors faced with such a packed auditorium, but if they were feeling nervous, they put aside any stage fright to deliver their words and songs with great professionalism and confidence.

Fantastic choreography throughout. Photo © Martin Pulley.

While we all know that the main characters in Grease are Danny and Sandy, played brilliantly by Dexter Robinson and Megan Gyles respectively, it was great to see that most of the Pink Ladies and the T Birds got the opportunity to shine throughout the show too. Special mention must go to Eugene (Alfie Turner) who is hilarious. And great use of the side aisles so we could see all the cast and ensemble throughout the show.

The Pink Ladies have a sleep-over. Photo © Martin Pulley.

The show bursts into life with the whole ensemble singing Grease (…is the word) as the opening number. A fabulous start that’s powerful and exciting, instantly delighting the audience with their enthusiasm and we are swept along to Rydell High School where all the kids want to either be in the ‘clicky’ Pink Ladies team or the macho and ultra cool band of T Birds.

The cast have ‘nailed’ the American accent and the personalities of these well-known characters: Rizzo (Emily Adamson), Frenchy (Milana Rostohar), Marty (Delilah Suckling, Jan (Freya Lee), Patty (Leah Hobson), Cha Cha (Evie Goodwin), the strict Miss Lynch (Maddison Hands), Kenickie (Joshua Womble), Doody (Adam Ellis), Roger (Louis Dutton), Sonny (Harry Lance Smallwood), Johnny (Yoseph El-Maghraby and Vince (Jasper Delgado-Major) who also plays the very sparkly Teen Angel.

More of the ensemble. Photo © Martin Pulley.

The costumes throughout the show really take you back to the late 1950s and the rock ‘n’ roll era – and the sparkling ‘Teen Angel’ scene is a delight! Credit must go to the backstage Production Team covering everything from the lighting, sound, setting and wardrobe to the front of house Box Office, chaperoning and more. Good to see too that some of the backstage work was achieved through the efforts of Technical Students Thomas Davies, Marcus Butt, Euan Nelson, Lily Emery and Amelia Robson.

With music at the heart of this production, the band were fantastic: MD & Keys Jonathan Rees, Reed 1 Norman Hogg, Reed 2 Mike Read, Guitar Chris Loach, Guitar 2 David Rees, Bass Jon Heywood and drums Peter Comell.

A fabulous show – a real team effort, that will have you smiling and hand jiving from start to finish.


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