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Grease – Regent Theatre Review

They say that Grease is the word. But the words on the lips of the audience as they made their way home after two and a half hours of fun-filled performance that had sped by like – if you’ll pardon the pun – Greased Lightning were more likely to be fantastic, energetic and just plain wow.

So, what makes this production stand out from the much-loved movie and the previous productions of a musical that first saw the light of day fifty years ago? Well, step forward Director Nikolai Foster and choreographer Arlene Phillips who gave us a turbocharged version of the musical with breath-taking dance moves that make all other productions pedestrian in comparison and whisk the audience member along like a surfer riding a tsunami.

The plot to the musical concerning the on-off romance between Danny and Sandy set against the goings-on of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies at Rydell High is familiar to most theatre-goers. The teenagers all have their own problems hidden behind falsely-confident exteriors. The score is also very familiar with many of the tunes being chart hits in their own right. And the audience knows there will be a happy ending with all the cast ending up with the one that they want.

What makes it different is that the cast is young and embraces the pace of proceedings with gusto. There are also some excellent casting choices. Dan Partridge plays Danny with all the swagger and bravado required while showing an obvious chemistry with Georgia Louise who is excellent as the goody-two-shoes Sandy who eventually lets her hair down. Georgia also delivers Hopelessly Devoted to You with heart-stopping sincerity.

The two leads are ably backed by the members of the respective gangs who all bring credibility and musical talent to their part. Paul French brings all of the pzazz required to Greased Lightning in his role of Kenickie while other members of the Burger Boys are Alex Christian (Doody), Josh Barnett (Roger), Cristian Zaccarini (Sonny) and Matt Trevarrow (Eugene) can all be proud of the part they played in the action.

Leading Ladies were man-eater Betty Rizzo (Tendai Rinomhota), the troubled Frenchy (Marianna Neofitou), socially awkward Jan (Maeve Byrne), the flirtatious Marty (Inez Budd) and cheerleader Patty Simcox (Thea Bunting). Take a bow girls. You were magnificent as were all the other members of the ensemble who made this a night to remember.

So, no star names in the cast but plenty to take note of for the future. The only well-known name in the cast is hit singer and TV personality Peter Andre who picks up the parts of Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine later in the week. A word of warning to Peter. You will need to be at your best to out-perform your understudy Jacob Fisher. He attacked the role with confidence and performed his songs with a panache that received particularly good applause at the final curtain.

The show began with a poignant filmed tribute to the Regent from local poet Craig Fenn and a personal welcome back to the audience by Theatre Director Frazer Hoyle who described the Regent as “a cold, dark building” without its actors, staff and audience. This show brought the light and warmth back to remove the darkness and proved that the powers of joy and youth can beat any pandemic.

The audience rose to a man in spontaneous and well-earned acclaim for a heart-warming show of musical theatre at its best. Cast of 21 I salute you. In fact, I could become Hopelessly Devoted To You.

The show continues until September 4th and has a running time – including interval – of 2hours 30 minutes. Contact www.atgtickets.com/stoke for information

Dave Stringer
Sports Reporter and Theatre Critic

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