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REVIEW: Grease, The Musical – does it still have the word?

Dust off your leather jackets, squeeze yourself into those high-waisted jeans and get ready to rock and roll.

Think you know Grease? Think again. You may know the cheery, bubblegum feel-good musical starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John based in sunny California, but did you know that Grease was originally based on the streets of Chicago? And that the Aussie character, Sandy Olsson we all know and love, was actually based on a character called Sandy Dumbrowski?

Curve’s latest stage production, Grease The Musical has been directed by Nikolai Foster and goes back to the original ‘play with music’ written back in 1971.

Following a sell-out run at Curve over Christmas 2016, this brand-new production still features the same characters – from the kind-hearted and gentle Frenchy (who is still rocking that pink hair) right down to headmistress Miss Lynch. Danny is played by Dan Partridge while girl next door Sandy is played by newbie, Martha Kirby plus Peter Andre fans will be squealing with delight as he’s set to make a special appearance from 10 – 14 Sept in the role of Teen Angel.

The show kicks off with the familiar title score ‘Grease is the Word’. It’s electrifying, uplifting and really sets the tone for rest of the show. Choreographed by multiple Olivier Award-winner and Tony Award nominee Arlene Phillips, you’re going to find it hard to not get up and do a little boogie woogie yourself.

While the story is the same, there are subtle differences which may irk some of you, but trust me, you’ll soon get over it.

The story is set in Chicago where the original writers – and amateur actors – Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey grew up. The Burger Palace Boys replace the T Birds, Kenickie leads the Greased Lightnin’ performance and does it brilliantly, meanwhile, Sandy is a brunette and doesn’t even hit the floor at the Rydell School dance.

As for the songs, well…you can still expect all of them including ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You,’ ‘You’re The One That I Want, ‘and of course ‘Summer Nights’ as well as a whole bunch of ‘new’ (old) songs that didn’t make it to the film such as ‘Freddy My Love’, ‘Tattoo Song,’ and ‘Mooning.’ 

A large cast means there’s always action on stage and the choreography at the school dance is superb – a big round of applause to Arlene Phillips for bringing her West End quality to the show.

Frenchy, played by Eloise Davies is as adorable as her on screen character, Danny’s sidekick, Kenickie is just as likeable but it’s Martha Kirby – who makes her professional debut – that really stole the show for me as well as her rendition of Hopelessly Devoted that show off her vocal range. Special mention also to Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, the leader of the Pink Ladies, Rizzo; she’s sassy, sarcastic and sharp tongued and her emotions really come through while she belts out her solo to Sandy.

Even though it’s grittier this time round, you can still expect all the humour and heartbreak from the film. It’s a revival that’s been done really well and for now, Grease is definitely still the word. Go see it!

Grease, The Musical is on at Curve, 60 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1SB until 14 Set

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