12th October 2016
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
Type of Production
Lou Petch assisted by Liam Corbett
Author: Julie Petrucci
A trip to Bury Operatic’s productions at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is always a pleasure and my latest trip to see BSEAODS version of the iconic musical Grease was no exception.
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 ofregional theatre, summer stock, community 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: “Sandy”, ”Hopelessly Devoted to You”, "You're the One That I Want" and the title song “Grease”, these four songs from the film were included in this show by special permission.
This production was full of energy from the start. Directed with imaginative style by Lou Petch assisted by Liam Corbett, I was impressed with the sheer enthusiasm of the cast. The opening ensemble number “Grease is the Word” was sung and danced with great energy and obvious enjoyment, setting the scene for the remaining performance.
The set was simple but effective. The back projected scenery worked well. The multi-level set was used to good effect and scene changes were swiftly dealt with by a very hardworking stage crew. All this plus excellent costumes, and with the whole being complimented by some first-class lighting, it created an excellent back-up for the performers. On the debit side was the perennial problem of radio mics. Several times the first few notes of songs or actors’ lines went unheard. With a show so packed full of songs, as Grease is, the action between the musical numbers becomes second best and the pace drops. This was the case once or twice but all credit to everyone on picking the pace up again quickly.
The principal characters were well cast :
Marc Kerr as Danny Zuko, was confident and cock sure and delivered an excellent performance. Marc is a seasoned and talented performer.
I enjoyed Lorna Glennie 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”.
Max Cunnell gave us a very strong Kenickie, maintaining the character throughout and had good stage presence. His musical number “Greased Lightning”, performed with the T Birds, was great, full of energy and certainly an audience pleaser.
Faye Smith as Kenickie’s counterpart the feisty Rizzo, was perfectly cast, oozing attitude in every scene. She had excellent stage presence and delivered both her solo numbers extremely well, particularly “There Are Worse Things I Can Do”. A bravura performance.
Jess Cleverdon gave a great portrayal of the ‘always hungry’ Jan and with good comic timing, got great mileage trying to eat her way through college.
Frenchy was played by Phoebe Bryant who did an excellent job. She brought great warmth to her performance.
Nyiesha Austin was confident in the role of Marty bringing a nice interpretation to “Freddy My Love” . The Pink Ladies were obviously a team, the sense of friendship clearly came across showing a strong bond between all the girls which was lovely to see.
The ’T’ Birds all worked well together. Ric Gardner playing Doody delivered his musical numbers well, Joe Cunnell as Roger was just great along with an enjoyable performance from Will Cahill as the ‘mooning ‘ Sonny. The ’Burger Palace Boys had all developed a good on stage relationship with great banter and delivery.
There wasn’t a weak link in the whole cast and a special mention must go to the members of the chorus, there was a host of strong performances. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and this was a key element to the show’s success.
Scott Truin as the hapless Eugene, gave a good account of himself and was fun to watch. He was well matched by Lizi Long as Patty, the eccentric cheer leader. In other minor roles, Fraser Simpson played night club singer Johnny Casino well, Heather Couch took on the sexy role of Cha Cha and gave it her all, as did Ben Hill as Vince Fontaine. The part of the Miss Lynch was played by Mandy Morrish loud of voice and strong of stage presence.
One of the highlights was the big production number “Beauty School Drop Out” and how impressed we were with the Teen Angels Kate Steggles, Rachelle Curtis, Cat Dale and Emma Ward plus all the other “acolytes” involved. It was great fun and exceedingly well done.
Jackie Strahm’s choreography was fresh, stylised and energetic. Every number was executed brilliantly and the most important thing – everyone looked like they were having terrific fun!
Music was in the capable hands of Musical Director Simon Pearce and his mellifluous band who contributed to the success of the show. However, we must not forget the contribution of Jonathan Eio the Music and Voice Supervisor. The singing was brilliant throughout.
Looking through the programme it is clear to see many of those involved in the ensemble are more than capable of taking on lead roles and it says much for the society that so many are prepared to take on Ensemble work just to be involved. You do yourselves credit.
This was an incredibly enjoyable show with excellent musicality, choreography and costumes making it an extremely pleasurable evening’s entertainment. Congratulations BSEAODS!