Review: Grease, Ipswich Regent, to October 7
PUBLISHED: 14:29 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:10 04 October 2017
Looking for a show to fill you with joy and an irrepressible urge to dance and sing along? Grease is the word.
Full of romance, fun and rock ‘n’ roll, the latest touring incarnation of the hit stage show is at Ipswich Regent this week, bringing 1950s America to Suffolk and with it the ultimate tale of good girl/bad boy love.
Opening night saw pitch perfect understudy Gabriella Williams shine as the sweet and innocent Sandy, struggling to fit in at Rydell High where the Pink Ladies and T-Birds rule the school.
Other stand out performances included Ryan Heenan as Doody, Callum Evans who stole my heart as nerdy Eugene, and a sweet duet between comic turns Jan (Rosanna Harris) and Roger (Oliver Jacobson).
In fact, it’s impossible to resist the heart-lifting music and I was hooked from the first beat of the first song.
But the show is not without its faults.
Tom Parker needed a little more charisma as teen heart-throb Danny Zuko, though his performance got stronger as the show progressed and he deserves a little kudos for throwing Cha Cha (understudy Alessia McDermott) around like oversized nunchucks in the dance off scene.
And as much as I love the camp brilliance of Beauty School Dropout – George ‘The Hips’ Olney is great as Teen Angel – the first few rows of the theatre were engulfed by some rather overzealous ‘heavenly cloud’ and the audience left flapping programmes around in an effort to see.
There were also a few sound issues (forgiven on opening night?) and the whole story lacked flow.
Perhaps this could also be forgiven as it is so well known, but the focus was definitely on the musical numbers and it simply jumped from one to another with little to connect them.
Wow! Sensational musical numbers! Fabulous staging and choreography by former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and the cast deserved their standing ovation at the end for the fast and intricate hand jive alone.
Throw in a few fireworks during Greased Lightnin’ and a couple of men in the shower during Those Magic Changes and who cares about the somewhat politically incorrect story anyway.
Grease is all about the music and with the hugely talented band given a place centre stage, it is definitely the star of this show.