Review: Grease at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds until Saturday
PUBLISHED: 11:28 13 October 2016
Full of romance, fun and catchy songs, it is no surprise that the 1979 movie ‘Grease’ is regularly listed in the top ten musicals of all time. But years before John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John hand-jived their way into our hearts, the same well-known story of high school peer pressure and good girl/bad boy love was being told in theatres across America.
It is that classic version that the Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society have brought to the Theatre Royal stage this week, complete with complex dance numbers and music so familiar that it makes even the most reserved of us want to join in.
An energetic opening scene sets the rock ‘n’ roll mood nicely as the talented cast takes you back to 1950s Chicago and Rydell High, where the Pink ladies and Burger Palace Boys (the original incarnation of the T-Birds) are starting a new school year and catching up on summer antics.
Mark Kerr is confident as Danny Zuko, the greaser with a reputation to protect, and Lorna Glennie is appropriately sweet as his holiday love, Sandy. Indeed she has the perfect, angelic voice for the part and her rendition of ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ was excellent on opening night despite some intermittent sound issues.
In fact all of the performers were impressive and although the show occasionally lacked a little flow, a plethora of great singers and movers held it together with a stream of highly entertaining musical numbers - including a surprisingly camp and fabulous ‘Beauty School Dropout’ which featured sparkly angels on rollerskates (yes really) and a cherubic man playing harp.
Jess Cleverdon deserves special mention for her naturally comedic performance as Jan, Faye Smith for her heartbreaking version of ‘There are worse things I could do’ as Rizzo, and I would happily watch the whole thing again just to see the Burger Palace Boys dance – especially Will Cahill as Sonny.
In conclusion, a little more hip thrusting than is decent in a Regency playhouse but over all a joy to behold and great to see a packed audience doing the whole thing justice.