Grease (UK Tour): Churchill Theatre, Bromley.
Reviewed 9th October 2019
Long standing favourite Grease is back and is billed to be grittier and more glamorous than ever. Nikolai Foster’s direction revitalises Grease and makes it a brand new version of the much-loved hit. Featuring well known songs such as ‘Summer Nights’, ‘Greased Lightnin’, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You‘ and ‘You’re the One That I Want‘ and new choreography by Arlene Phillips this new UK Tour is fresh and fun.
After a summer whirlwind romance Sandy finds herself transferring to Rydell High where leather-clad bad boy Danny is studying. But will their love be able to survive the trials and tribulations of teenage life?
Although the stunt casting clearly works for this show as the entirety of the run at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley is sold out. With a lot of audience members clearly at the theatre to see Peter Andre. It is the rest of the cast that deserve the most credit. Martha Kirby, who makes her professional debut in this production, is commanding and has a lovely tone of voice as Sandy. With Nikolai Foster’s direction Sandy is headstrong and self confident and Kirby portrays this well. Eloise Davies impresses throughout as the fun, friendly Frenchy and it is Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky who manages to blow the audience away with her stunning rendition of ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do‘ which is one of the rare moments that the audience get a glimpse of true emotion. Jessica Croll must also be mentioned for her fantastic performance as Patty, particularly during her dance routine at the high school dance. Overall the female cast are stronger than their male counterparts, although some technical sound issues at this performance probably didn’t help with this. Dan Partridge who plays Danny Zuko has a strong voice but at times lacks conviction with his character. Fan favourite, Peter Andre shows that he is able to maintain a note during his almost laughable, ridiculously over the top song in the show and clearly the audience were rooting for him for the moment that he appeared on stage.
The fun, high energy and energetic choreography by Arlene Phillips is performed enthusiastically by all of the cast. The hand jive during the high school hop is a particular highlight with some fantastic 50’s style swing tricks thrown in for good measure. The set, by Colin Richmond, certainly works well to create the image of Rydell High School but is not the most innovative. The same could be said of the lighting designed by Guy Hoare. Although it does the job the lighting lacks in originality and ultimately does not add very much to the staging.
Diehard fans of the film may be disappointed as this production certainly changes a lot of elements. However the main characters and plot lines remain the same. It is a shame that fundamentally Grease still portrays that women should change to win affection or love from men – surely this isn’t a message we want to promote? Other opportunities such as teenage pregnancy, also seem to be missed and it is a shame that in today’s society young women are still seeing these highly stereotypical views onstage. This said Grease has always been one of many many peoples favourite musicals and this production will no doubt be one to catch if you are amongst those people. The 2019 UK tour production is smart and sassy and shows a slightly different side to previous versions with stronger and feistier characters. Featuring a talented cast who are vocally strong and with some fancy footwork this musical is bound to continue to be a hit!
Grease (UK Tour) is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley until the 12th October 2019. The run is sold out but click here to find out about returns. The tour continues until the 19th October at the Cardiff Millennium Centre. For information click here.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan