THE dismal Manchester weather could not dampen the excitement of the sold-out Palace Theatre as sodden Pink Ladies and T-Birds took their seats to watch the highly acclaimed West-End hit musical, Grease. John Hassell was there to cast his eye over proceedings.

The show got off to a strong start with ex-The Wanted member Tom Parker as Danny and co-star Danielle Hope as Sandy, giving a fabulous rendition of “Summer Nights” whilst the rest of the all-singing, all-dancing cast performed flawlessly around them. Although I wasn’t too sure about Kenickie’s (Tom Senior) constant air thrusting.

Louisa Lytton, of Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing fame, was brilliant in the role of the dark, promiscuous Rizzo and shone during “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee”, as did the rest of the fantastic Pink Ladies.

Screen and Stage veteran, Darren Day lavished the limelight a bit too much for my liking with his role as Teen Angel. He was a great performer and had excellent stage presence but when he started doing Austin Powers impressions after “Beauty School Dropout”, Day just came off as desperate for attention. Nonetheless, the older portion of the crowd lapped it up. The under 25s however were probably thinking, “what on Earth is that bloke off Big Brother going on about?”

The overall message of the musical was slightly different to the actual film and was a bit confusing. In the film version, both Danny and Sandy change their personalities to be more appealing to each other whereas in the stage adaptation, only Sandy changes.

This gave off a very peculiar message: if you want to get the cool guy at school, don’t expect him to change for you, instead you have to lose your values and start dressing inappropriately.  I felt uneasy about this whilst watching, especially considering that there were many impressionable young girls amongst the crowd.

Instead, the true love story came in the form of Rodger (Oliver Jacobsen) and Jan (Rosanna Harris) who bonded over their joint affection of eating lots of food. Something I can definitely relate to! They deserve a special mention as their singing, dancing and acting was superb throughout.

Other special mentions go to Ryan Heenan as Doodie and Rhiannon Chesterman as Frenchy. The pair provided great humour and occasionally outshone Danny and Sandy with their acting ability.

I was rather deflated with the omission of one of my favourite songs from the film. Understandably, the Blue Moon scene could be considered a bit too risqué for the stage but you can’t deny how hilarious it would have been to see it.

Ultimately though, Grease was fun, nostalgic and full of cheese. Throughout the show, the crowd were laughing, singing and even crying.

When the cast performed their final medley, embarrassed teenagers around the Palace Theatre were trying and failing to hold down their euphoric parents who couldn’t help but break into song. If not for the slightly confused message and at-times cringe-worthy Teen Angel, Grease would have got five stars. Instead, it’s a solid four.   

Grease is at the Palace Theatre until March 25th. Get Tickets here!



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