What's in a word, Grease?

Grease

Wolverhampton Grand

****

WHEN Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey set out in 1970 to write a musical about Chicago school life called Grease, their vision created a dramatic, raunchy, raw, aggressive and reportedly vulgar show.

Whilst their bank managers to date probably have no concern, as it is now one of the most globally recognised and successful musicals of the last 40 years, the current form of this production is more of a Las Vegas parody of the era and their original vision. 

The teen themes have been tamed and rounded over time and now the glitter and ` wow factor β€˜ have been poured on to such a degree that the simple story of working class teens in the 50s seems irrelevant and at times unrecognisable under all the glare of the neon.

Set in the 1950s the story focuses on the Rydell High School and the arrival of the prudish school girl Sandy and her relationship with her new friends and the cool leather clad `Greaser' Danny. 

The creative team of Director , David Gilmore and Choreographer, Arlene Phillips have run wild with their spectacular pyrotechnic  and highly choreographed production so much so that someone forgot to remind them there is a drama going on and the songs should support that not the other way around.

BIG NUMBER

David Gilmore actually states that `Grease doesn't have a message β€˜ and to be honest if Jacobs and Casey ever had one in 1971 then you surly won't find it here anymore. Instead what we have is each big number trying to outdo the one before and the story of young love, paling into cartoon links to just adequately get us to the next song and dance routine.

It is though visually stunning and Phillips's passion for precision in the dancing is evident so as a light show of energy and entertainment alone you won't be disappointed.

However with all the fireworks and lighting you never get close to or actually feel anything for any of the characters.

Danny is played by Danny Bayne winner of ITV's talent quest `Grease is the word' and whilst he is pretty enough he was missing the dumb innocence and awkwardness that Travolta's screen version defined. Carina Gillespie plays Sandy and has great voice but as a pairing they lacked any convincing romantic chemistry.

One of the best performance and scenes came from Stuart Reid as the Teen Angel singing `Beauty School Dropout.' His voice was more than capable having a high degree of 50s falsetto originality to it and costume wise it is one of the highlights of the show.

Kate Somerset How, made a feisty Rizzo but once again the dramatic content was abandoned from one of the best emotional songs from Grease ` There are worse things I could do β€˜  which ended up being delivered centre stage like an X Factor audition.

There is no doubt that the polish and professionalism within this production will keep you enthralled and that was evident to the sell-out audience who had braved the rain to attend.

It didn't seem to matter to them that the once gritty reality and issues of potential teen pregnancies, bullying, and social exclusion, and that of being a `Greaser β€˜in a 50s street gang were now well oiled and smoothed over in this `slick' production.

Grease might have been the word but now it's an overpowering attack on the senses with some chart topping songs and great dance routines that are performed by a very capable cast. To 01-12-12.

Jeff Grant 

And feet tapping quietly at the back . . .

****

IT'S back with a bang in the Black Country, and top musical Grease is as slick as ever!

Fans poured into the Grand on opening night, some in Pink Lady jackets, and they were rewarded with a top class performance from a terrific young cast.

The smash hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John led to the show developing a cult following, and the stage version is a rock 'n' roll riot of thrilling music and great dancing.

Set in 1959 at the fictional Rydell High School, the story follows the activities of a group of students with love very much on the curriculum, and the focus on 'bad boy' Danny Zuko and the shy girl-next-door, Sandy Dumbrowski.

Danny Bayne excels as the leather-jacketed Zuko and Carina Gillespie is the ideal Sandy, with outstanding support from Ross William Wild (Kenickie), Kate Somerset How (Rizzo) and Stuart Reid (Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel).   

And how the audience love the superbly delivered songs, You're the One that I Want, Grease is the Word, Beauty School Dropout, Greased Lightnin' and Hopelessly Devoted. To 01.12.12

Paul Marston 

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