Review: Grease at the Grand Theatre, Leeds

IN the spring of 2000 I was bombarded with music from the musical Grease as both of my sons were appearing in the show at Prince Henry’s Grammar school. It was therefore with anticipation that I went to see the professional show at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. Having seen the excellent school production nearly 20 years ago I had high expectations of this production in Leeds and I certainly was not disappointed!

The cast in this production comprises mainly of up and coming actors but they certainly gave it all they have. Even though they were required to learn up to 12 routines they still managed to pull them off in spectacular style. Tribute must go to Arlene Phillips who has choreographed this show to such a high standard.

With regards to the cast, the first plaudit must go to Dan Partridge as Danny Zuko. He really makes a splendid Danny with his greased back hair and his smooth style of talking. He seems to be a fantastic singer and probably plays a better Danny than John Travolta.

Taking up the role of Sandy Dumbrowski is Martha Kirby who, unlike Olivia Newton John manages to give Sandy the American accent she really should have. She is a brilliant singer and seems perfect as the part of Sandy, even though this tour is her first debut in this role.

Other good performances come from Jordon Abey as Doody, Louis Gaunt as Kenickie and Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky who makes a totally perfect Rizzo as she performs “There are worse things I can do” with so much power and accuracy that it is a joy to listen to. The one disappointing performance for me, however, was that of Peter Andre as Teen Angel. Much of the pre-publicity for the show had centred around him and many of the ladies in the audience on the night I attended the show seemed to have bought tickets specifically to see him as there were screams of delight when he appeared at the top of the staircase at the rear of the stage resplendent in his white suit and wings ready to deliver the song, “Beauty School Dropout”. However, his singing to me was well below par and as my wife pointed out, “Mr Pallant (music teacher at Prince Henry’s in 2000) performed this much better!” I only hope he improves in future performances. This role is being shared between him and Ore Oduba who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

This production includes the four additional songs that were written for the film which amateur productions are not allowed to use. The company really managed to pull these songs off. These were the duet between Danny and Sandy “You’re the one that I want”, Sandy’s “Hopelessly devoted to you”, Danny’s “Sandy” and the ever popular “Grease is the word” which really opened the show with a bang. My favourite song though, which finishes the first half and then was reprised at the end is “We go together” which I thought the company performed superbly. The final mega-mix of songs as an encore had the audience at The Grand on their feet and clapping along. My final plaudit must certainly go to Nikolai Foster the Director for such a great production.

This was a fabulous production that will have you dancing and singing in your seat as the actors sing and dance with so much energy that it really is unbelievable. The production is full of great young actors and actresses who I am sure will be big hits in the future. This really is a must see musical and runs until Saturday 20 July.

John Burland