|Date||2nd September 2021|
|Society||Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Club|
|Venue||ADC Theatre Cambridge|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Andrew Taylor|
Author: Julie Petrucci
After two postponements it was third time lucky for the Pied Pipers to bring the iconic musical Grease to the stage with a 9 night run plus matinees at the ADC Theatre Cambridge. This show has been around so long I am sure there is no need for me to repeat the plot here. Written in 1971 the show ran in the USA until 1980. It went on to become a West End hit, a successful feature film, two popular Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007, and a staple of regional theatre and school drama groups. The 2007 revival incorporated some changes from the popular film version. Some numbers were eliminated, and others were added to the score: three of these “Sandy”, ”Hopelessly Devoted to You” and "You're the One That I Want" were included in this show by special permission.
This production was full of energy from the start. Directed with imaginative style by Megan Stickler-Sell, I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the cast. The opening ensemble number was sung and danced with real energy and obvious enjoyment, setting the scene for the remainder of the performance.
The set was simple but effective and scene changes were swiftly dealt with by an efficient stage crew. All this plus excellent hair, make-up and costumes, with the whole being complimented by some first-class lighting and sound, creating an excellent back-up for the performers.
The principal characters were well cast : Chip Colquhoun as Danny Zuko, was confident and cocksure and delivered an excellent performance. Chip is a seasoned and talented performer therefore this coveted role was in safe hands.
I very much enjoyed Elle Brown as Sandy, in a nice portrayal of the character, she clearly showed the difference between innocence and naivety in the first half, and the more confident Sandy in the second half, and certainly pulled off the transformation for the final song “You're the one that I want” and I particularly enjoyed “Hopelessly Devoted To You”.
The Burger Palace Boys all worked well together. Mark Hampton gave us a very strong Kenickie, maintaining the character throughout and had good stage presence. His musical number “Greased Lightning”, performed with the The Burger Palace Boys, was great, full of energy and certainly an audience pleaser. Zack Szreter (Doody) delivered his musical numbers well, Jon Armstrong (Sonny) was just great along with a particularly enjoyable performance from Maxim Thompson as the ‘mooning’ Roger. The ’Boys’ had all developed a good on stage relationship with great banter and delivery.
Of course the target for the boy’s teenage sexual fantasies were The Pink Ladies, who were equally outstanding as they showed their own teenage angst and complexities:
Abigail Mann as the feisty Rizzo, was perfectly cast, capturing the essence of her troubled but brash persona as she aspires to be the ring leader in all things ‘bad’, but is clearly vulnerable emotionally. She had excellent stage presence and delivered both her solo numbers extremely well, particularly “There Are Worse Things I Can Do”. Frenchy (Alicia Hussey) was always aware of her appearance and kept the persona of her character, she brought a nice warmth to her performance. Marty (Bryony Helen Sullivan) was always true to herself and added strong vocal support bringing a nice interpretation to “Freddy My Love”. Georgia Derbyshire gave an outstanding portrayal of the always hungry Jan and, with good comic timing, got great mileage trying to eat her way through college. Always with an eye on Roger her enthusiasm was infectious and he got the message...eventually! Great duet, ‘Mooning’ with Roger. The Pink Ladies were obviously a team, showing a strong bond between the girls which was good to see.
Others worthy of mention are Alex Kubiesa as the hapless Eugene and Amy Brown as Patti, the eccentric cheer leader. In other minor roles, Stephen Wainrib played night club singer Johnny Casino well, Heidi Wilson took on the sexy role of Cha Cha and gave it her all, as did Richard Betts as Vince Fontaine. The part of Miss Lynch was firmly played by Jane Presland forever on the case of poor Sonny, whilst Will Taylor became Frenchy’s “Teen Angel” plus DeeDee Doke who popped on as Coach. There wasn’t a weak link in the whole cast and a special mention must go to the members of the Ensemble (Alex Stokoe, Charlotte Greeno, Lizzy Kaye, George Miller, Laura Roberts, Rheanon Hanks and Shanta Sabnis Thomas). There was a host of good performances and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves which is always a key element to a show’s success.
Music was in the capable hands of Musical Director Andrew Taylor and his mellifluous orchestra who more than contributed to the success of the show. The singing was first-rate throughout. Emma Olley’s choreography was fresh, stylised and energetic. Every number was well executed and the most important thing – everyone looked like they were having terrific fun!
This was an extremely enjoyable show with excellent musicality and choreography making it an extremely pleasurable evening’s entertainment. Hats off to Director Megan Stickler-Sell and her production team and, of course, the talented cast. Grease was definitely worth waiting for.