It maybe rapidly approaching Autumn but there are still a few Summer Nights to be had at The Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent this week. Directed by Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director for Curve, the musical classic ‘Grease’ and its infamous score are totally prepared to entertain audiences on stage with an all-new cast.
For those very few individuals who may not have experienced Grease previously, it is essentially a 50’s High School love story, starring the leather clad, cool dude ‘Danny Zuko’ (Dan Partridge) and the innocent, girl next door, ‘Sandy Dumbrowski’ (Georgia Louise). They reunite in their final year at Rydell High. It may be a love story on the surface, but it is also very much a story about teenage friendships, peer pressure, sexual relationships and personal challenges. Partridge was a ‘gritty’ Danny Zuko with much charisma on stage followed by his equally leather clad followers, ‘The Burger Boys’. Whereas Louise performed a very innocent Sandy with incredible vocal range ensuring the audience could see her character grow as she became accepted by ‘The Pink ladies’.
With many stand out performances on stage the character of ‘Frenchy’ (Marianna Neofitou) was excellent. With theatre and TV credits to her name she was possibly the individual who was most like the actor in the film version of Grease. The part of Jan (Maeve Burn) was also spot on and her hilarious duet with Roger (Josh Barnett) when performing ‘Mooning’ was effortless.
Hard to choose a favourite hit from this extremely recognisable score, however the energetic ‘Grease Lightnin’ and ‘We go together’ were knockout numbers and this enthusiastic and energetic cast ensured that the score is as fresh today as it was when performed by Travolta and Newton- John all those years ago on screen. Dan Glover, (Musical Director) ensured the score was standout, loud and instantly recognisable and must be applauded.
The final scene in the 1978 film version of Grease is always when Sandy decides she loves Danny, and she appears in the iconic black leather jacket and leather trousers. However, for a split second the audience may have possibly needed to remind themselves that this was the specific scene, when Sandy (Louise) appeared in a white leather jacket which for some may not have seemed to be a powerful enough visual on stage. Occasionally some individual lines were hard to follow, possibly related to the American accents but it’s fair to say, the entire cast provided pretty accurate accents, especially hard when singing and dancing at such a pace throughout.
It would be totally remiss not to acknowledge and provide upmost respect to the well-known and very talented Arlene Phillips (Choreographer) and Richard Roe (Associate Choreographer). The choreography continued at the same fast pace throughout the entire show. When the main characters were dancing on stage there was often energetic action of others on other areas of the stage. The choreography to ‘Beauty School Dropout’ was utterly camp in every sense but entirely fitting and amusing to watch.
If you are considering what performance may entice you back to theatre after one challenging year, then Grease should surely be up there with the best of them. This youthful, fresh, enthusiastic cast are well worth watching. With a standing ovation, to a singing and dancing packed out theatre, Grease is the perfect show to entice you back to theatre.
Grease continues at The Regent Theatre in Stoke- on -Trent until Saturday 4th September with tickets available from ATG tickets at https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/grease/regent-theatre/
Reviewer: Angela Kelly
Reviewed: 31st August 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★