Grease Is The Word – Empire Theatre, Sunderland (Evening Chronicle)

GREASE is best known as the iconic film, starring John Travolta and Olivia  Newton John.

But it started and continues today as a theatre production, altered to  include the best loved songs from the film, so the tunes could be enjoyed  live. From Greased Lightning to Beauty School Dropout, they are all in there. This resulted in Grease being voted the number one greatest musical of all time.

For this production, the stage opened showing the live jazz band which was  going to be playing the music behind all of the tracks, and already had the  crowds toes tapping before a word is sung. Then the floor exploded into colour as the show began, the stage filled with  the greasers, girls and nerds of Rydell High School.

The cast are so good together. I wouldn’t have noticed that the leads were  played by understudies if I hadn’t been informed beforehand. It’s a testament to the quality and depth of talent within the cast, that I  can’t imagine the original actors could have done any better. Ricky Rojas, who played the ultra-confident lead man Danny, was genuinely funny.  His stage presence meant all eyes were on him, and his dancing skills during the  High School Hop were as exciting as they were technically awesome.

Lois Urwin, who deputised the part of Sandy for the night, played the part  with every drop of innocence and dignity. Her vocal talents on display during  the ballad, Danny, sent shivers down the spine. They both managed to portray two of the most well-known characters in cinema without seeming like theatre copycat versions.

Rhydian Roberts as Teen Angel is about as perfect a casting as you can get.  He provided the angel with all the over-the-top arrogance and confidence in the  world, which caused laughter throughout the crowd as he gestured to the  audience, before his voice blew the audience away. The man can sing, that’s for sure, bringing a note of classical almost  operatic tone to the song, High School Drop Out.

The dancing was choreographed to perfection, with the girls in their brightly  coloured dresses swinging around the dance floor in perfect unison. The dynamic lighting and staging in combination with pyrotechnics and an  orchestra of sound, brought a Broadway feel to the entire production. They have  gone the extra mile and it really shows.

The show has been polished to a vibrant shine. From young to old, whether  you’ve seen the film or not, it is exhilarating, toe-tapping, singalong fun for  the entire family.

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/entertainment-in-newcastle/theatre/2011/10/27/review-grease-sunderland-empire-72703-29673173/#ixzz1WznN913L

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