Palace Theatre, Manchester
Stage Experience is exciting for participants and audience members. Young local performers have two weeks to put a show together and perform it to thousands at the huge Palace Theatre in Manchester.
Similar to the Company currently treading the boards at the Lowry, Stage Experience uncovers some great talent – giving youngsters the bug to continue acting and singing, as they thrive on the reaction of a live audience.
Last year Stage Experience participants performed the hit musical Annie. This year, it's one of the most popular musicals of all time - Grease.
If you don't know the plot – this original High School Musical follows the loves and lives of Sandy and Danny – two teenage sweethearts who embark on some "Summer Lovin'".
Imagine a lighter Romeo & Juliet in an American High School with the divide between the Pink Ladies and a group of men called the T Birds, and throw in some fantastic toe tapping hits including "You're the One That I Want" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and you have all the ingredients for a great live show.
Often when this musical has toured of late, producers have resorted to stunt casting – including the likes of Russell Grant and Robin Cousins as Teen Angel. Stage Experience don't have to resort to star names as the show could almost be dubbed "The North West's Got Talent" because that's what the piece is show casing. If Simon Cowell was watching I'm sure they'd get a yes from him.
11 year old Sol White Wood was entertained by the cast and their energy. Over to him: it is hard to believe that this cast had only only been preparing for two weeks, as they were brilliant at singing, dancing and acting.
In terms of cast members - he was impressed by Cerys Angharad Dawes' Rizzo, as was I. She manages to convey poignancy, as well as the steely shell of the character. Marcus Crabb is a great comedian, shining as Eugene. Hannah Butterworth's personality really shines through as Marty. Bethan Harrop is also a great actress and her Jan is totally memorable.
Lydia Gillibrand makes a small role as Miss Lynch go a long way and she is hilarious. The ensemble are all excellent, and artistic director director - David McNeill allows each cast member in the groups enough of the spotlight.
As Danny Luke Kershaw has good comic timing and he conveys the arrogance required. He fluffs his lines but this is to be expected with only two weeks to rehearse. Danielle Wilson's Sandy is more feisty than the movie version of Sandy. This makes the character more believable.
The last word goes to Sol: Go and see Grease as it offers you a good laugh and the show never gets boring because the music is so memorable and the commitment from the cast means that the original material is treated with respect.
- Glenn Meads & Sol White Wood