For more that forty years, Grease has enjoyed a number of revivals, from stage and arena productions through to a national tour in an over-sized circus tent. Its success firmly built on the 1978 film starring Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and Stockard Channing, based on Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical of the same name with additional songs by Barry Gibb, John Farrar, Louis St. Louis and Scott Simon.
It comes as no surprise, that this current production has enjoyed enormous success throughout Australia for the past eighteen months (including a season in Singapore). Melbourne saw this highly energetic production earlier this year at Her Majesty’s Theatre, selling out and a summer encore season subsequently announced at the Regent Theatre.
David Gilmore’s production delivers on all levels, making it one of the most enjoyable nights out in the theatre. The principal and supporting cast are slick and finely tuned, relishing in the familiar jukebox catalogue that includes Summer Nights, You’re The One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted To You, We Go Together, Greased Lightnin’ and the signature tune Grease Is The Word.
Rob Mills and Gretel Scarlett are delightful as the young lovers Danny and Sandy. Lucy Maunder once again gives a standout performance as Rizzo, none more so with There are Worse Things I Could Do. The T-Birds are particularly strong in Stephen Mahy (Kenickie), Scott McConnell (Doody), Daniel Raso (Sonny), and Duane McGregor (Roger), who belt out a high octane version of Greased Lightnin’; while Laura Murphy (Jan), Francine Cain (Frenchy), and Karla Tonkich (Marty) as the Pink Ladies are fun and bubbly, providing some of the nights lighter moments.
Val Lehman returns with her authoritarian edge as Miss Lynch the School Principal, and Bert Newtown is in his element as radio announcer Vince Fontaine. Following turns in other cities, Melbourne finally gets to see John Paul Young (replacing Anthony Callea) as rocker Johnny Casino in a crowd pleasing Born To Hand Jive; while Todd McKenney, coming from a star turn in The Production Company’s La Cage aux Folles, undoubtedly steals the show with his rendition of Beauty School Dropout that is full of glitz & glamour and self-depreciating humour.
Energetic choreography by Arlene Phillips and Charlotte Bull keep this ensemble on its toes, supported by Luke Hunter (Musical Director) and his on-stage band with a nicely balanced big rounded sound, evoking memories of a by-gone era. Terry Parson’s design is simply terrific – the transition of the car in Greased Lightnin’ from a beat-up bomb to a hot machine is quite spectacular, enhanced by Mark Henderson’s lighting design. Andreane Neofitou’s costumes superbly reference the 1950’s era.
If you are looking for a fun night out or just a trip down memory lane – do yourself a favour and check Grease out. You won’t be disappointed!
Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 11 December 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 25 January 2015
Bookings: 1300 111 011 or online at: www.ticketmaster.com.au
For more information, visit: www.greaseistheword.com.au for details.
Image: Grease Cast by Jeff Busby
Review: Rohan Shearn