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Grease (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Grease the musical is now forty years old. Now using the music from the film rather than the original score it remains a hugely popular show and this latest tour will do little to curb that.

For those who have never seen or heard it before, the show follows the traditional boy meets girl, other people or facts force them apart, boy ends up with girl. But Grease does it with style and we follow teens in the late fifties.

Danny Byrne as Danny Zuko has a decent voice and is an excellent dancer, but his Elvis style laugh when trying to hide his feelings for Sandy is simply annoying rather than likeable. Carina Gillespie as Sandy looks the part but her voice grates on the loud high notes and I found her unconvincing. However, whatever the leads are lacking is more than made up for by the mostly brilliant ensemble cast, especially Olivia Fines as Rizzo who shines though her solo numbers. Unfortunately though, Ross William Wild's Kenicke, whilst he has a great voice, is uncharismatic.

Probably the most memorable part of the show, for the wrong reasons, is Russell Grant's cameo turn as Teen Angel. He actually has a long theatrical history but I find the tacked on Strictly references and the 'thrown in' cha cha cha with Frenchy completely unnecessary and take you out of the narrative. I freely confess though that I am probably in the minority, given the enthusiastic audience reaction to his appearance on the night I attended.

At forty, this evergreen classic proves life begins here and it hasn't lost it’s get up and go thanks to the enthusiasm and energy of its predominantly young cast. The odd niggle aside, Grease is still the word.

- Helen Jones


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