Note: This review is for the UK 2021 tour of Grease the Musical.
It has been 50 years since Grease premiered at the Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago before transferring to Broadway and 43 years since the release of the film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, undergoing multiple revivals, tours and a live TV performance making it one of the most successful musicals in history.
The 2021 UK tour is the first new production in 25 years, and with an iconic soundtrack including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want, it has big shoes to fill. Judging by the packed and excitable audience at The Alexandra Theatre it clearly still remains as popular as ever.
Directed by Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Grease tells the story of leather-clad greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy who are unexpectedly reunited after a whirlwind summer romance when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year.
It’s a cast of enthusiastic and talented young performers. Dan Partridge reprises his role as Danny Zuko – leading the Burger Palace Boys and commanding the stage throughout. Ellie Kingdon – who is appearing in her professional debut in the role of ‘alternate Sandy’ – was phenomenal, giving the character much more of a sassy personality than some of her predecessors. She had the stand-out voice of the night, belting out Hopelessly Devoted to You and appeared completely unfazed at an unexpected sing-a-long from an audience member.
The show provides much more of an emphasis on the relationships of the two groups – the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies – and the characters at Rydell High. Both groups have great chemistry, in particular the pairing of Maeve Byrne as Jan and Josh Barnett as Roger provide lots of comic moments and some fabulous vocals.
It is when the whole cast comes together that the show really shines. With choreography by Arlene Phillips and associate choreographer Richard Roe and set and costume design by Colin Richmond, the musical numbers are slick, fun and so energetic that they leave the audience desperate to join in. The dance scene in particular is wonderful and brilliantly executed.
And, of course, there was very special guest artist Peter Andre as Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine. I’m not sure whether I was more excited about being able to see Peter Andre or the musical itself, but I must admit I was a little apprehensive about what sort of performance to expect.
Thankfully, he fit perfectly into the cast and delivered a marvellous performance, oozing confidence and charisma while grinding his hips as Vince Fontain and delighting the audience with his rendition of Beauty School Dropout as Teen Angel. Not an easy thing to do while wearing pink fairy wings, but Peter managed it beautifully. He joins the rest of the company for the medley at the end, by which point the auditorium was on its feet, clapping, singing and cheering so loudly that the vocals from the stage were almost drowned out.
If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining night out, this is absolutely a must-see. Grease is, indeed, very much still the word.
Peter Andre will be on stage for selected performances only.
Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to the show, but were under no obligation to provide a positive review.