Gallery: Grease is the word for the children’s theatre company at Ipswich’s New Wolsey
- Credit: Archant
Opening the door, I’m not sure I’m in the right place until I hear You’re The One That I Want echoing down the corridor.
A couple of doors down, the children’s theatre company’s artistic director Bridie Rowe is putting the bulk of the 46-strong cast through their paces.
Rehearsals started in February, running in tandem with its production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and stepping up several notches once the latter ended. Aged 13-21, I spot some some familiar faces from the ctc’s stunning version of Les Miserables and some new faces too.
“I can’t believe that (Les Mis) was a year ago. We’re still relatively new, people came not really knowing what to expect and were massively surprised... There was a lot of hype because the film was out and it’s Les Mis. I think a lot of people came thinking ‘oh they’re youngsters, they’ll give it a go’,” says Rowe.
“I was basically crying for two weeks out of joy because it was so good but it was draining... So there’s a level of expectation now for Grease.”
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Whereas it was a case of keeping the cast of Les Mis up, this time it’s a case of calming them down. There’s a reason Grease is called the number one party musical.
“It’s such a fun show... I thought where ‘do I go after Les Mis’ so picked something completely different, I like to surprise people and this was a no-brainer because it’s a wonderful show, it’s infectious.”
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Not sung through like previous shows, the cast’s acting skills are being tested. It’s not the only challenge.
“It’s just full on dance, dance, dance that’s been a surprise. Some of them aren’t natural dancers but they work; Charlie Pittman who’s playing Danny will admit he’s not the most natural dancer. We did We Go Together which is end of act one, a really big number and really difficult. He went home for two hours and practiced - that’s the sort of dedication I have from the kids.”
There can’t be many people left who haven’t heard these songs too.
“That comes with it’s own pressure as well because everybody has in their own minds how they should be sung, how they should be performed because they’ve seen it so many times. They’re very particular parts to cast too. It’s a mixture of trying to keep the tradition of what people recognise but also putting your own fresh spin on it.”
Dealing with some heavy subjects and risque in places, script changes have been kept to a minimum.
“I have changed a few phrases I didn’t think were particularly child friendly. Greased Lightning comes as a different version anyway so that’s okay; you don’t realise how inappropriate it is until you sit and listen to the lyrics. You just sing it innocently and then you’re like ‘oh’. I’m keeping a couple of swearwords in for Rizzo because she needs it...”
Throw your mittens around your kittens and hand-jive the night away with troubled love-birds Sandy and Danny at Ipswich’s New Wolsey from July 16-19. performances have sold-out but it’s worth checking for returns.