Grease is easily one of the best known musicals; full of catchy songs, a gorgeous man and a beautiful girl with their eccentric friends who all conveniently seem to fall in love with one another. It’s a warm, fuzzy dream of a musical that no one can deny has one of the best wedding sing-a-long songs ever. If you tell me you’ve never drunkenly played the part of Danny and/or Sandy as soon as “Summer Nights” starts bellowing out of the speakers, you’re lying. Chances are it was also probably terrible but that’s fine… It’s supposed to be terrible when you’re slurring the words after midnight serenading your other half across the room teamed up with everyone else of the same gender. However, the song is not supposed to be terrible when you pay good money to go and see the show being performed by professionals at the theatre.
There are a few that are exceptions from the horror of the show; Danielle Hope (Sandy) being one of them. The previous “Over the Rainbow” winner has a lovely voice and outshone others on the stage with little to no effort. However, I must confess her performance as Sandy wasn’t too convincing. I didn’t empathise with her when Danny completely pushes her away to be with his mates, which for me is something most women can relate to. So to feel no anger or hurt for her left me feeling quite disappointed.
My lack of empathy towards Sandy could be due to me being distracted by Tom Parker’s (Danny) awful acting. It felt so forced and it was very painful to watch; it seems to be the only way he can put on a mediocre American accent is to scream it. Constantly. Also, I feel the obvious needs to be stated:
Just because someone was in a boyband does not mean they can sing!
Tom is the perfect example of that and is no way strong enough to take on a lead role, especially someone like Danny who has to hit some pretty high notes. However I didn’t need to worry about this because for most of them he went down an octave anyway, not an impressive performance. The one thing I would definitely commend Tom for was his dancing which was surprisingly decent. Unfortunately dancing is not a massive role for Danny, so his performance as the heart-throb Danny Zuko left a lot to be desired.
Louisa Lytton (Rizzo) is, again, someone else who has been brought to the show to sell tickets. Her solo “There are Worse Things” was OK… but that’s about it. Her vibrato* was a bit too much for my liking and a lot of the notes felt very strained. Again, this song is a really beautiful song, probably the most raw song out of all the numbers in this show, and I struggled to feel her pain and angst when she sang. I was too distracted worrying that she wouldn’t hit the notes. Louisa’s acting when she wasn’t singing was on point. I found myself watching her a lot during the big ensemble numbers like “Summer Nights” and she captured her character extremely well.
There are definitely smaller parts that deserve a massive shout out for their performances. Rosanna Harris, Ryan Heenan, Rhiannon Chesterman and Anthony Hughes all played their roles fantastically well, they were heart warming and endearing characters that left me with a grin on my face after performing their little solos… And my personal opinion is that Anthony Hughes is should be playing Danny Zuko. What a talent he is!
The absolute stand out in the show, for me, has to be George Olney. He played the role of Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel, as well as being in the ensemble for other parts of the show. In the opening sequence of “Grease is the Word” he caught my eye straight away, he just oozed charisma and a cheeky quality which definitely came into play when he was dancing around in a tiny towel with a loofah.
The show, as a whole, felt a little bit rushed. I felt it could’ve been padded out with a little bit more dialogue, I didn’t get the time to really root for Danny and Sandy as a couple and, to be honest, couldn’t have cared less if at the end Sandy had gone “Actually, f*** this I can’t be bothered with a guy who is clearly a bit of an arse” and stormed off the stage. I probably would’ve even given a little whoop for feminism.
My verdict is to not waste your money. There will be another show coming to your local theatre a few weeks after, take a punt and try that show instead.
*Vibrato is the wobble the singers get when they hit a note – Think Whitney Houston in “I Will Always Love You” when she sings the title line