Grease Is the Word reality TV winners Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden made their West End debuts last night (8 August 2007, previews from 25 July) playing Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre (See Also Today’s 1st Night Photos).

In Grease Is the Word, which aired on ITV for two months from 7 April, Bayne and McFadden triumphed over thousands of other (frequently hopeless) hopefuls and seven other finalist couples to win the starring roles in the Fifties-set musical, immortalised by the 1979 film version starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as the high school sweethearts.

Last night, contest judges Sinitta, choreographer Brian Friedman and producer David Ian (though, notably, not the flamboyantly outspoken David Gest) as well as many of their erstwhile competitors and fans dressed up as Thunderbirds and Pink Ladies were amongst the first night audience to cheer on Bayne and McFadden.

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Grease is directed by David Gilmore and designed by Terry Parson with choreography by Arlene Phillips (recreated by Stori James). The new West End cast also features How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’s Siobhan Dillon (as Patty Simcox), Sean Mulligan (Kenickie), Jayde Westaby (Rizzo), Lee Martin (Doody), Bennett Andrews (Sonny), Laurie Scarth (Jan), Charlie Cameron (Marty), Alana Phillips (Frenchy) and Jason Capewell (Vince / Teen Angel).

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for arrivals and the curtain call of Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre and the post-show party at Floridita. Amongst our TV interviewees are David Ian, Sinitta, Brian Friedman, Arlene Phillips, Bruno Toniolo, former Danny Ben Richards and, last but not least, the stars of the night Susan McFadden and Danny Bayne, who considers his new “heartthrob” title.

While now most famous from the film, Grease began on stage, premiering on Broadway in 1972. The musical originally ran for six years in the West End, first at the Dominion and then at the Cambridge Theatre, returning to London for a short run back at the Dominion in 2001 and at the Victoria Palace in 2002/3. In between, it has toured the UK extensively.

Grease has book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It’s now-famous songs include “Summer Nights”, “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”, “We Go Together”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, “Beauty School Dropout”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “Greased Lightnin’” and “Grease Is the Word”. Paul Nicholas co-produces with David Ian. The pair’s new Broadway production of the musical, cast via American TV’s equivalent of Grease Is the Word, You’re the One That I Want, opens on 19 August 2007.

- by Terri Paddock