Grease - the school edition

Date 5th October 2016
Society The DODS
Venue Lister Hall, Dursley
Type of Production Musical Farce
Director Laura Cooper
Musical Director Rachel Howgego
Choreographer Val Lockley

Report

Author: Dee Way

‘Grease’ is a great musical, with good drama and musical challenges for the cast that were coped with well in this production. This ‘school edition’ production was notable for giving some good acting opportunities and using high levels of energy, particularly in the dance routines.

The set was spare, with benches, tables and a level stage that left a large area free for the big dance numbers. The opening nicely suggested the Rydell school with the rose gloss paint on pale walls and notices in keeping with the period and location. I liked the adaptability of the staging, in that the upstage bleachers broke apart to create different scenes and the all-important car was revealed where before there had been empty space.

The direction by Laura Cooper was interesting. Obviously, this was not a copy of the famous film, but at times there were a lot of people onstage that perhaps required a little more planning in position and action. At times, as an audience, it was difficult to see where we should be looking and hence we missed parts of the story line. The delivery of lines was mixed, at times overlapping audience laughter and applause. However, overall, the production worked well and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.

There is a lot of talent among this young cast of actors and singers. The American accents were good and maintained well throughout.  Much of the action and dance was well presented and the pictures at the end of the numbers were well organised and looked good. The Pink Ladies always acted well and created strong characters onstage. In the ‘Greased Lightning’ number, the inspection trolleys were great and nicely used!

The music, directed by Rachel Howgego, was well played on the whole, although the balance of sound needed tweaking at times. This improved in the second half. The harmonies in the first number were very well done.

The costumes were very good, with the leather jackets for the 'greasers' and the school uniforms, bobby socks and flounced skirts for the girls.The hairstyles were also good, clearly separating the Pink Ladies from the other schoolgirls. The boys slicked hair looked just right. The change for Sandy towards the end was effective, with the costume change and the hair looser, the black trousers and the good shoes.

There were some problems with the radio mics. Perhaps the sound enhancement needs rethinking here. Lighting was very effective most of the time, spotlighting where the action was and where our focus should be, as an audience.

This first performance showed potential for a very good production. There were just a few things to tighten up and co-ordinate and I am sure the whole cast would grow in confidence as the production progressed. Well done!