Grease is the word!…Or is it?!
On Wednesday the 24th of July I went to see the touring production of Grease at one of the local theatres…Here are my thoughts on the production.
I’m going to call this whole production a Marmite production…there were things I loved and things that fell short and I didn’t like.
I thought all of the principals were extremely well cast (apart from Peter Andre as Teen Angel but we’ll get to that later).
I loved Martha Kirby as Sandy, her vocals in Hopelessly Devoted To You and the Look At Me reprise were probably my favourite out of the cast. Whilst I loved the way she portrayed Sandy, I’m not sure I loved the direction they took Sandy in…If you’ve seen the Olivia Newton-John version, you know Sandy as the shy girl who hangs on to Danny’s every word naively; but in this version, she was a lot feistier! In ways, this is a good and more pro-feminist portrayal in the way the film (and musical) in the 70s wasn’t. But in this prevented the big change that Sandy goes through at the end of the musical – during the start of You’re The One That I Want where normally its a big wow moment in this production (as she was already kind of that girl) it was almost like she just went to put on a leather jacket. Whilst I didn’t LOVE that I thought Martha did a great job showing this different side to Sandy.
I also enjoyed Dan Partridge as Danny. Same as above, I thought vocally he was a great Danny and enjoyed his rendition of Sandy. He portrayed the way they changed and added bits to his character well, but as above I’m not sure I loved those changes. This version didn’t play up for laughs as much as other versions of Danny that I have seen. As well they gave him a new song..which is great and all but at the same time, you go to Grease knowing what to expect and then when you add or change bits you don’t know how you feel. That being said, overall I enjoyed the portrayal just not sure about all the changes.
Just have to give Rihanne a shoutout who played Rizzo, her vocals in There Are Worse Things I Could Do were amazing!
Whilst I thought that all the ‘kids’ were great in their respective roles, I thought Peter Andre was a waste of time; his performance was mediocre at best and kind of cringingly bad! And for something that they used to draw more people in you would have thought that they would make a bigger thing out of him being there than just one song, he was probably on stage around 3 minutes.
As I have mentioned there was a lot of changes to the musical some were good but most of them were just…poor..lets dive into them.
One of the changes I was 5050 with was the fact that they changed the choreography for Greased Lightning, We Go Together and Born To Hand Jive and whilst I enjoyed the choreography (Arlene Phillips) …I was looking for the iconic dance pieces that Grease is generally known for and it was just a shock when they weren’t in it.
Speaking of Born To Hand Jive, that whole dance competition section was hard to follow…you weren’t sure who was winning or overly sure of what was going on.
Carrying on from the point above, the relationships weren’t as prominent. For a musical so focused on teen angst and relationships, you would expect it to be more clear…in the dance-off which Danny and Cha-Cha go to and end up winning together, one of the prizes for winning were tickets to the drive-in movies. Cut to the next scene and Danny was with Sandy, which we all know happens but it wasn’t as clear cut as the movie shows it to be. He and Cha-Cha were together one second and the next he was with Sandy with no clear explanation. As well as having the relationship with Cha-Cha, he also had a thing with Patty Simcox, which I know is in the original musical; but it seemed more focused on this relationship than Sandy’s almost. Speaking of Patty her and Eugene’s relationship didn’t really happen or wasn’t shown nearly as much as other versions have shown it to be. The
Another thing that was extremely odd was that Danny and Kenickie’s little group weren’t called the T-Birds they were called The Burger Palace Kings! I have to admit that until me and my mum were discussing it in the interval that I hadn’t realized that they were supposed to be the T-Birds which again was off-putting.
The last big change was the songs…they added new ones, got rid of old ones and changed the order of others. As I said, Danny had a new song but Rizzo also had a new one; a continuation of Greased Lightning where Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee normally is. They changed that to just before We Go Together and sang it in front of the whole group ( the Burger Palace Kings/T-Birds and Pink Ladies combined instead of just the girls at the sleepover). They also added Those Magic Changes much later to the musical and got rid of It’s Raining On Prom Night completely. The last one was when Rizzo was singing There Are Worse Things I Could Do; she was singing it to Sandy directly whereas normally she sings it alone and about Kenickie/her life in general and it is normally Rizzo’s big stand out moment, which it still was but I’m not sure what I thought of Sandy being there.
Whilst it was nice to see a different take on the musical, you go to a musical like Grease to watch something you know and when you don’t get that you’re a little disappointed. I liked it but I didn’t love it if someone had said that it was gonna be a newer, different version of Grease I would have been expecting new and different things and would have loved it. But as I was expecting the same production as all of the others that I had seen previously, it was a shock to the system.
So yeah, overall I thought all the characters were great and the actors were great vocally, I’m not sure of what I thought of all the changes.