One thing was clear from the get go. This performance of Grease: The Musical is centric around the voices of their cast. Each and every cast member, though they may have lack in some areas most certainly did not in their vocals. Jess Crowther of course playing the memorable Marty began the show’s beautiful relationship with female solo singing with their rendition of ‘Freddy My Love’. Simply put, it was fabulous. Special kudos go to Lydia Duval (playing Rizzo) for her badass characterisation. The jazz and bass pushed behind the swing of her voice in songs such as ‘Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee’ or ‘Worse things’. In a show about Sandy, Lydia naturally and with grace took the light from her in this solo, whilst Ella Smith (who played Sandy) waited patiently in the background. Furthermore, Elliot King’s (playing Doody) performance of ‘Those Magic Changes’ was enchanting. Taking every audience member (most of who were university students or parents) back the their high school days. A theme running throughout the show in it’s entirety – transportation to another time.
Slight microphone issues at first were nothing compared to the beauty of the leading voices, and any slight mishaps with dancing really didn’t take away from the cast as a whole. Together they really did create this wave of activity, with the dancing being so specific to the ideals of each individual it really brought out each character well before they had a chance to speak or sing in solo.
Photo credits to Tom Gibson (@__tomgibson)
The set and lighting created for this show was incredible. Production manager Daisy Bennet, stage manager Alice Haughey, D. Stage manager Beth Warriner, sound designer Emily Taylor and lighting designer Megan Murphy all clearly worked as a true production team alongside backstage to fulfil this product to the best of it’s potential. Beginning on a flashing of electric blue to fill the stage whist the extras emerge, dressed in the most 50s 60s silloutte creating attire. Kudos to the producers Olivia Taylor-Goy and Maeve Gallagher alongside Grace Greenwood (their AP) as they so clearly knew exactly their vision, and had a true passion for it. The set was very simple, but effective! To raised platforms on either side toward the back of the stage, the odd desk or bed brought out for a specific scene or occasion by the cast (though I do wish they were consistent with one another in the style of moving set) and last of all, the infamous car. How they managed to get all of this done in such a short period of time is beyond me. The car, painted to look perfectly like the original, with moving parts for the dancers to interact with. The best part, it moves on and off set with the actors in it. It really helped bring various scenes, especially the oh-so well known drive in scene to life. With a disappointed Danny (played by Connor Bourke Hurtado) sat alone in his flashy car, before his solo. It really portrayed the image of a child throwing his toys out the pram. One of the many moments the directors showed how poor quality a man Danny was.
Going on from this, considering the, one might say ‘slightly dodgy’ themes in Grease: The musical (and Grease generally for that matter) directors Savannah Perry and Abbie Freeston managed to combat this fabulously. Grease is of it’s time. The idea that because Sandy doesn’t want to sleep with Danny to begin with and it pressured by her ‘friends’ to become the kind of girl he wanted all along, instead of staying true to what she believes in and what she so clearly wants to be, as portrayed in her sleepover with the other girls. The cast as a whole beautifully portrayed the manipulative and self-serving characters in this show, the ‘Burger palace boys’ being so fabulously macho, that it was so believable we were transitioned to the late 50s.
Special hightlights of mine were Stevie Catney who played Kenickie and Olivia Taylor-Goy who played Frenchie. Though neither of them were starring characters, both of them really stepped into their roles. If you’re wondering where you remember Taylor-Goy from, she was also the producer. A testament to the intensely theatrical minds this team are made from is the fact that so many of the production team multi-roled. With director Freeston also assistant choreographer, Greenwood as AP and ensemble, Gallagher producer and Miss Lynch, Wilson as Jan and choreographer and Palmer-Stirling as both ensemble and Publicity. An immense list in an already complex show.
Although the organisation of the ensemble was fabulous, there were at times, sections of the backing cast that did not seem like they were having the best of times. A slight lack of enthusiasm from them (whatever that be due to) did not take away from the energy they still managed to give the rest of the show. Talia Goss, Brent Edington, Katie Tse, Elena Lacy, Annabel Martin Ella Fairley, Grace Greenwood were all spectacular overall. Slightly more minor characters (though they all still successfully pushed their own narrative during their stage time) included Gee Case-Watson as Johnny Casino, Jack Foster as Teen Angel, Gabriel Curteis as Eugene, Mia Ruby Crockart as the stereotypical ‘nerd’ Patty Simcox, Maeve Gallagher as Miss Lynch, Ella Wilson as the gorgeous Cha Cha, and Louis Dixon as the much-loved Vince Fontaine.
The leading ‘Burger Palace Boys’ and ‘Pink Ladies’ were inevitably incredible given the cast. Perfect to the point of Rizzo making out with Kenickie for 20 minutes on stage. Now that’s dedication! Jan (Betsy Wilson) and Frenchie both played a beautifully complimentary duo, Jess Crowther really portrayed Marty through her whole persona, especially during the conflicting occasions between Sandy (Ella Smith) and Rizzo. As for the boys, Danny and Kenickie seemed to have perfect balance with one another, both keeping up their intensely masculine traits. It must be said, Sonny (Myles Tew) and Rodger (David Bygraves) were my favourites. A balancing couple of friends whose voices really complimented one another and are still finding the more ‘macho’ sides to themselves.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of Grease: The musical. I would highly recommend keeping up to date with anything LUU SMS have coming up by following their Instagram, @luusms.