Fantastically feel good and naughtily nostalgic, Grease the Musical arrived in Liverpool this week with all the right moves and an abundance of exuberant energy. You cannot help but leave this show with a smile. Starring Peter Andre, and debuting several newcomers, it offers a slightly different flavour to what has been done before.
Expect to have a good time.
This production took a couple of scenes to find their flow but once they were in it there was no stopping them. Directed by Curve’s Nikolai Foster and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, Grease demands strong dancing from the cast in order to carry out creative sequences and transports the audience back to Rydell High School with ease.
Led by Dan Partridge (Danny Zuko) and Ellie Kingdon (Sandy) the dialogue is fast paced with gags peppered throughout. Making her touring debut, Kingdon showcases exceptional vocals as Sandy, and both create believable characters the audience connects with. Grease is also the stage debut for Paul French, who channels Kenickie effortlessly and commands the stage with an authoritative presence.
The youthful energy of the cast is a standout element of this production. Many are relatively recent graduates which adds to the authenticity of the plot and the atmosphere in the theatre by the end was electric. Perhaps nervous, they took a few scenes to find the confident chemistry that is evident in some other productions, but this shouldn’t deter people from attending – by the end, it is one of the best experiences of Grease to be had.
As well as the renowned hits, the show is progressed through clever scenery. Transitioning such an iconic film to theatre is no mean feat. Many will attend with expectations based on what they’ve already seen and heard, placing more responsibility on the staging, costumes and musical arrangements. Colin Richmond (Scenic & Costume Designer) provides a set-up that blends scenes seamlessly and keeps the omnipotent character of Vince Fontaine as a subtle centrepiece.
Peter Andre expertly raises the audience – and the roof – as Vince Fontaine, demonstrating a versatile skillset that includes killer dance moves, notable notes and nuanced character acting. Although the audience were keen for his appearance already, the presence of the character on stage for most of the show really adds something to the experience and Andre owns it.
The second half covers the school dance and eventual reunion of Danny and Sandy. It was at this point that the performance went up a notch and more confidence across the cast began to shine. The production traversed from being just another Grease production into ‘this is the production to see’ territory. The standing ovation at the end speaks for itself.
Grease is running at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 20th November 2021. After that, it’ll head to Cardiff and Leeds for their final shows of this year. Follow their journey on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and book tickets here https://greasethemusicalontour.com/tour-tickets/
If you’re looking for a fabulous night out and the feel-good factor, this is the show for you.
Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle
Reviewed: 16th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★