Theatre and musicals are all about escapism. We go to the theatre to be immersed in another world, a different time and a different place, where we can forget all about the worries, woes, and stresses of everyday life. This time around, we went to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay to take a trip back to Rydell High School in 1950’s America with Grease, the family-favourite musical loaded with leather jackets, hit songs and iconic scenes.
Grease is the high-school love story of Sandy (played by Danielle Hope, winner of Over The Rainbow) and Danny (played by Tom Parker from The Wanted) who met at the beach one romantic summer while Sandy was on holiday. Little did they know, but Sandy was soon to join Rydell High School alongside bad-boy Danny and his T-Birds gang. Sandy becomes part of the Pink Ladies clique, befriending Frenchy (Rhiannon Chesterman) who plans to leave school to become a beautician. Upon mentioning her summer romance, Rizzo (played by Louisa Lytton from Eastenders) arranges a surprise reunion for Danny and Sandy. But keeping up his bad-boy persona, Danny brushes off his summer fling with Sandy and ends up spending the rest of the school year trying to win her back by joining the athletics team and taking Sandy on dates to the drive-in cinema. The story follows the ups and downs of their high-school romance… not to mention the Pink Ladies’ sleepover, Rizzo’s pregnancy scare, Kenickie’s (Tom Senior) car race and the Rydell High School dance… finally ending with a transformed Sandy and a more mature Danny falling in love all over again.
Being one of the best-loved musicals around, I was excited to see Grease as the West-End cast tours the UK. With high expectations, I was certainly not let down! The show featured all of the hit songs, as expected, with the audience singing along, clapping and swaying to the music throughout. The orchestra played live at the back of the stage and it was refreshing to see them getting the credit they were due. The music was loud, the lights were bright and the stage was set. Each scene was as good as the last and the cast delivered an excellent performance, mastering the accents and the iconic squeaky voices of their characters throughout each song. The costumes were spot on, with leather jackets and full-skirt dresses, the dancing was energetic and the singing talent was clear. Danielle Hope’s (Sandy) voice was shown to its full potential in her solo of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and the cast performed classics like “Greased Lightning”, “Summer Nights” and “You’re The One That I Want” together in perfect harmony.
A guest appearance was made by chart-topping Jimmy Osmond as Teen Angel, singing “Beauty School Drop Out”, which the audience absolutely loved. He brought his character and a touch of comedy to the show, holding notes for what seemed like minutes to delight and humour the crowd. Comedy was splashed throughout the show, particularly by Eugene (played by Callum Evans) who lit up the stage with his geeky persona. Despite playing an awkward high-school nerd, it was clear to see that Callum Evans was in fact extremely talented, with plenty of dance and acrobatic skills to boot!
Grease was full of surprises, with flashes and bangs making us jump and hilarious scenes making us laugh and cheer all night. It left us wanting to sing and dance all the way home and that’s the way it should be, because “Summer loving had me a blast!”