The 1950s. When young people stepped into the foreground with new sounds to back them up. A decade of change? Yes, but also a strangely innocent one. Take Grease for example, the off-Broadway stage show which became a cult phenomenon and then a hit film. It’s a straightforward story of teenagers on the cusp of maturity, finding their social levels and wanting all the rewards of adulthood at a time when nice girls didn’t “do” sex, drink or drugs – even if they did rock’n’roll.
This touring production directed by David Gilmore with musical staging and choreography by Arlene Philips has bags of energy and considerable vitality. The cast sings, dances and acts with unrelenting vigour and there are some nice production touches, including the beat-up car and the clever use of lights and levels. Barney Ashworth’s on-stage band is high above the action and, like the singers, considerably amplified. Andreane Neofitou's costumes are excellent, as is Terry Parsons' deceptively simple set.
Words, especially in the concerted numbers, do go missing. The cast of over 20 have individual moments in the spotlight with Sophie Zucchini’s long-legged Cha Cha, Kate Somerset How’s vamp of a Rizzo and Rhydian Roberts’s Teen Angel standing out in particular. Carina Gillespie as Sandy is as sweet and wholesome as American pie and sings very well. As Danny, the cockerel in this particular small-town barnyard, Danny Bayne certainly looks the part, but needs just a touch more charisma and a smidgen less self-esteem.