In a world where Hollywood are constantly rebooting, remaking and redoing every classic movie it shouldn't come as a surprise that Musical Theatre would follow suit. Currently playing at the Edinburgh Playhouse; Grease, which originally opened on Broadway in 1971, is midway through another UK tour, giving old fans new renditions of the iconic hits such as 'Summer Nights', 'Greased Lightning' and the classic 'You're The One That I Want'. While this production comes across slightly cheaper and minimalist compared to the last UK tour, it still retains the overzealous good vibes we all want and love.
Tom Parker, from pop band 'The Wanted', gives a deer-in-headlights performance as the cool and slick Danny Zuko. Try as he might to play the character with the iconic suave attitude in which legends such as John Travolta, Richard Gere and Patrick Swayze gave to the role, Parker's lack of musical theatre singing betrays him in the key moments when Danny's voice is supposed to make one weak at the knees. While, ironically, Parker seems more comfortable acting than singing, he still fails to make a memorable impression. He does eventually settle into the role and has some moments of comedy gold. Danielle Hope, who shot to fame as the winner of BBC1's 'Over The Rainbow' (which saw Hope nab the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of "The Wizard of Oz") is no stranger to playing some of musical theatre's most famous roles, including Maria in 'The Sound of Music' and Eponine in 'Les Miserables'. After being thoroughly excited to see the Nation's theatre sweetheart on stage, I was slightly disappointed to find that Hope conveys a highly demure Sandy Dumbrowski, which is an unfortunate character choice when playing the already vanilla character (spoiler alert: Sandy isn't Australian in the stage show). Louisa Lytton as Rizzo acts the sassy high school vixon with just enough sex appeal to remain appropriate but ultimately fails to take us on the emotional rollercoaster her character experiences through the show. With the honour of being able to sing 'the 11 o'clock number' Lytton's light voice is barely audible against a powerful orchestra.
The strength of this production lay within its supporting players. Ryan Heenan as Doody and Rosanna Harris as Jan stole the spotlight every single time they stepped onto the stage. With such hilarious and touching performances, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd happily see an entire show based on the adventures of Doody and Jan. Special mentions to Callum Evan's Eugene (a role I played in my first year of high school with much less success) and Gabriella William's Patty, the school busybodies who provide the perfect amount of humour. The ensemble sing, dance and act the show with the exact ferocity and passion that you'd expect from sexually charged teenagers in the 1950's. The ensemble numbers are a spectacle, with 'Greased Lightening' being a particular favourite. We all know this number to be a stand out, however the rendition within this particular production elevates it to divine territory. With backflips, high kicks and pyrotechnics it's easy to become an immediate fan of Arlene Phillip's extremely inventive and tight choreography.
David Gilmore's direction is fun and he succeeds in breathing new life into a musical that has been done to death. One must give the creative team credit too, as putting on a show that's etched into the minds of the general public is one heck of a challenge. The resulting product in this occasion is a smaller production will all the same high energy, excitable, hen party-satisfying performances that we all know and love. While Grease isn't the most carefully acted production you'll ever see - no one goes to Grease for it's deep meanings well rounded characters. The show is a hoot and I dare even the biggest cynics to leave the Edinburgh Playhouse feeling anything but sickening delight. - Ryan Laskey