Grease

Wed 12th – Sat 15th March 2014

reviews

bethany balkham

at 09:18 on 13th Mar 2014

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A well-known, fun-loving musical to the majority of us, I was hesitant as to whether or not the Collingwood cast would do my favourite west end show justice.

When I first sat down, the setting, organised by Emma Denison, was the first thing I took note of and I have to admit, it was a tad disappointing. With posters with the letter ‘R’ to signal we were at Rydell High and a rope of bunting to create the dance hall, the stage and props were minimalist and I felt much more could have been made out of it. However, thumbs up to Abbi Richardson for her two Grease cars; this creativity was definitely a hit with the audience!

This goes for costumes too. Although the T-birds and the Pink Ladies looked like typical 50s teens, the chorus’ costumes were disappointing, considering the 50s was such a big decade for fashion, with the rock and roll style coming back into our high-street shops today.

Nevertheless, the acting was brilliant and the cast complimented each other well, bringing a real sense of friendship to the stage. James Proudfoot, who played Eugene and Rachael Johnson, who played Ms Lynch, performed their awkward characters extremely well and despite not having much stage time, what little performance they had was perfectly executed and humorous.

The T-birds and Pink Ladies were also great, with particular emphasis on Mark Goodwin, who played Roger. He played the guitar whilst singing two solos and definitely had one of, if not the best voice amongst the cast, so well done to him for his impeccable performance. Michelle Jardim, who played Jan, was also a fun and well-cast actress who really emphasised the twinkie obsessed, silly nature of her character. I also thought Robyn Shepherd was a brilliant Rizzo. Not only did she look lovely, with her 50s roller hairstyle, but she had the required attitude and sass needed to play Rizzo well. Arthur Lewis, however, who played Danny, was the definite star of the show. It was as if he was destined for the role, with his curly hair, cheeky smile and hip-thrusting as good as John Travolta. Definitely go to see it if its not just to gawk over Arthur.

Despite Arthur being a perfect Danny, I was disappointed with Sandy, played by Clara Shepherd. I felt that little attention was paid to her. Although Sandy is a quiet, reserved girl, Clara could have been a bit more aggressive, with greater attitude in her final scene of transformation. Her voice was pretty, but nowhere near strong enough for a lead character.

I was also disappointed with Cha Cha, played by Jessie Smith. Cha Cha is meant to be a confident, sexy and sassy woman, but this wasn’t displayed on the Collingwood stage. It would have been better if Jessie were wearing a more ‘out there’ ball gown, so as to really stand out from the crowd. As Cha Cha is meant to be the best dancer in school, the dance between her and Danny should have been far more impressive. Sandy Thin, playing the beauty school dropout teen angel had a beautiful voice but absolutely no personality on stage, it was a shame because his solo was lovely, but lacking in charm and charisma.

Gabrielle Fradin’s choreography was awkward at times but the main character’s personalities stole the stage, so the dancing was made enjoyable by the smiles on their faces. I was sad that the hit ‘You’re the one that I want’ didn’t close the show, instead replaced by ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’, but the majority of twists were effective, giving Collingwood’s performance of Grease a sense of uniqueness. Overall, a well acted show with the fun, rebellious charm incessant to Rydell.

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