Ask me to name an iconic musical from my childhood, and Grease would be one of the top runners. I watched the film over and over again, and grew up singing the songs. I remember dancing to You’re The One That I Want at many school discos, and while most of my friends wanted to be Sandy I was more taken with the character of Rizzo.
Even though I am a (self appointed) proud member of the Pink Ladies I have only seen Grease on stage once – in Torquay in 2002. So I was very much looking forward to seeing it again, 15 years later at the Bristol Hippodrome. I took my friends daughter Sienna, who represents the new generation of Grease lovers. At the age of 7 she has fallen in love with it, and knows the words to all the songs. (She is also with me in favouring Rizzo). It’s lovely how Grease is a musical that spans the ages, and on arriving at the theatre I looked around and saw people from 7 to 70 in the audience.
Grease is set in an American High School, and for those of you unfamiliar with the story (where have you been hiding?!) it follows love birds Danny and Sandy, and their respective gangs – the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds. Grease was first seen on Broadway in 1972, but it wasn’t until it was made into a film in 1978 staring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John that it’s popularity rocketed.
The role of Danny is a big one, and following in the steps of John Travolta must be difficult. For this show Danny was played by Tom Parker, the singer of pop band The Wanted. It’s true that his Danny was very different from Travolta’s….but that didn’t seem to bother the audience. He had an obvious enjoyment from playing the character, and a great voice, for songs such as Summer Nights and You’re The One That I Want. I really enjoyed the movie scene, where he belts out Oh Sandy accompanied by very comic gestures.
Sandy is another big role, and Newton-John big shoes to fill. However Danielle Hope more than met my expectations, and I felt was had the best voice out of all the cast. And my favourite character Rizzo was played by ex-Eastender Louisa Lytton, who had her sass and swagger down to a tee. Especially during the comical (and slightly cruel) Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee, where she mocks Sandy.
But fabulous acting and singing aside, for the majority of the audience the best part was the four minute song Beauty School Drop Out – where American superstar Jimmy Osmond played the role of Teen Angel. This was hilarious (and somewhat cheesy), as he appeared on the stage in a shiny silver suit, and played a guitar that shot fire out of the end. It was clear the audience adored him, and he played up to it, which elicited cheers and whistles (along with some bemused faces from the younger people).
Grease is such a feel good musical, and I was not disappointed by this show. I left the theatre with a great big smile on my face, and my Grease sound track turned up high in the car.