Thursday, 11 December 2014

Grease, Dec 10, 2014 ****

Grease, Music, Lyrics & Book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Regent Theatre, from Dec 10, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****

Review also online at Herald Sun today, Fri Dec 11, 2014 and in print in Sunday Herald Sun on Sun, Dec 13, 2014. KH
 Haul out the Brylcreem and your ol’ 45s then rev up the Chevy because the rockers and greasers, bobbysoxers and cheerleaders are back in Grease Is The Word.

David Gilmore’s peppy production has matured in the year since we last saw it and the highlights of are still Arlene Phillips’ musical staging and choreography and the searingly hot band under musical director Peter Casey.

Grease is a teen love story set in the fictitious, Rydell High School in 1955 in USA when teenagers were asserting their independence with rock and roll and permissive behaviour.

Gretel Scarlett plays shy, chaste Australian newcomer, Sandy, who falls hopelessly in love with high school Lothario and ‘greaser’, Danny, played by Rob Mills.

Mills and Scarlett lead the chorus of T-Birds (boys) and Pink Ladies (girls) in a vivacious version of Summer Nights and their finale of You’re The One That I Want is raunchy and vibrant.

Scarlett’s versatile voice is both sweet and bold in the romantic ballad, Hopelessly Devoted To You, while Mills’ bright vocal tones are well suited to his solo, Sandy.

The chorus numbers, Grease Is The Word and Shakin’ At the High School Hop, are effervescent and vivid with tight vocal arrangements while Hand Jive Hop has the added delight of 70’s pop star, John Paul Young, as Johnny Casino.

Stephen Mahy is charismatic as Danny’s surly, sexy pal, Kenickie, and, with his resonant voice and audacious style, he steals the first act with Greased Lightnin’, supported by the sidekicks, Roger, Doody and Sonny (Duane McGregor, Scott McConnell, Daniel Raso).

Todd McKenney’s Teen Angel is a hoot in silver lame and wig singing Beauty School Dropout, and Lucy Maunder as Rizzo is both sensual and sad singing There Are Worse Things I Could Do.

Val Lehman’s Miss Lynch is aptly tweedy and brusque while Bert Newton looks less uncomfortable as DJ Vince Fontaine in this season.

There is still some awkward comic business and dialogue but Terry Parsons’ glitzy gold and red neon design with its iconic 50s imagery accompanied by the high-gelato of Andreane Neofitou’s costumes, make the stage glow with colour and light.

Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s jukebox style, teen musical still grabs audiences, including the children, so take the family.

By Kate Herbert

Rob Mills - Danny
Gretel Scarlett - Sandy
John Paul Young  Johnny Casino
Lucy Maunder - Rizzo
Stephen Mahy - Kenickie
Val Lehman -Miss Lynch
Bert Newton - Vince Fontaine
Todd McKenney -Teen Angel

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