As Rizzo herself might put it, there are worse things you could do than check out Grease at the New Alex Theatre.
The Stage Experience production is a loving tribute to everyone’s favourite musical, with a cast of talented young performers.
We all know the story off by heart, of course. Danny and Sandy fall in love over the summer, then things get a little complicated when Sandy turns out the be the new girl at Rydell. Can their love survive the pressures and dramas of high school? Will Rizzo, leader of the Pink Ladies, get her man? And will beauty school dropout Frenchy ever get a diploma?
Staging a production of Grease is a pretty bold move; it’s impossible for audiences not to draw comparisons between the classic movie, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. And sure, the ‘first day back at school’ scene mirrors the film almost word-for-word, but luckily after that the stage version revamps the plot and the running order of the songs, to make you feel that you’re watching something wholly original. (It’s also refreshing to see a story set in high school where the characters are all actually played by real teenagers!)
There isn’t a single weak link in the entire company. Jordan Ricketts and Georgia Anderson are perfectly cast as young sweethearts Danny and Sandy, while the T-Birds and Pink Ladies steal the show every chance they get. Jasmine Shen and Melissa Huband are charming in the expanded roles of Marty and Jan respectively, and even minor characters like Eugene (Liam Huband) and Cha-Cha (Jessica Walton) make the most of their brief appearances. But the real standouts are Sofi Robinson, who completely inhabits the spikiness and vulnerability of Rizzo, and Georgina Steggles, who imbues Frenchy with dorky sweetness and some great physical comedy.
The musical numbers are all fantastic, with jaw-dropping choreography and a well-oiled machine of backing dancers. ‘Summer Nights’ had everybody in the audience singing along, while ‘Beauty School Dropout’ retains the delightfully dreamlike feel of the film sequence, complete with dancers in the aisles wearing dressing gowns and towel turbans. And it all builds to a wonderfully exuberant finale, which will have you humming ‘We Go Together’ long after the curtain drops.
Grease is on at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 20th August.