Grease is fun. Guaranteed chromium-plated retro fun. What show with a car on stage isn’t? And everyone on stage during a pulsatingly hot summer night was enjoying themselves, even in their retro cardigans (just one feature of a stunning array of costumes seamlessly managed by Phoebe Aldrich).
The audience was having a good time too, getting into the spirit of these blameless and charming characters. One of the show’s strengths is a cast of 39 with a range of starry moments for minor characters: plenty of variety and chances for new talent to shine.
This was, unusually, a Speech Day show with Sixth Formers, and they made the most of it. William Playle-de Vries (Teen Angel) and Phoebe Averdieck/Sophie Sweetnam (Frenchy) strutted the stage as if born to it in Beauty School Dropout, giving the second half a real buzz, and Kitty Roberts (Rizzo) suddenly put the first half into orbit with Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee. Finn Cooper (Kenickie) delivered a scintillating Greased Lightning, Izzie Smith (Marty) gave Freddie, My Love just the right winsome charm, Millie Dickson (Patty) was bewitchingly irritating and Libby Henderson (Cha Cha) cartwheeled round the stage like a Flamenco gymnast.
Eloise Burchell (Sandy) and Christian Bostock (Danny) took the spotlight, naturally, and looked every inch the part, Danny with his spectacular hair and Sandy with her sassy Theresa May leather trousers. The big second half numbers Hopelessly Devoted to You and Sandy plus the slick ensemble of You’re the One that I Want had the audience in raptures.
But the Sixth Form didn’t have it all to themselves. Blair Morton as the hapless Eugene was almost unbearably… hapless; Charles Lloyd-Jones (Doody) was charming, George Erith (Roger) leapt around the stage with startling energy, and Isabelle Hibbard expertly modelled Miss Lynch on some stern, joyless teacher (we wonder who).
And then there were the rest of The T Birds and The Pink Ladies, and the 23 strong Ensemble, not to mention the 33 strong technical and support team – and the Front of House team, who had kitted out the Bar in spectacular fashion. Such a team effort – all deserved the cheers and applause at curtain call.
Grease was a great ensemble show, the perfect escapist summer night for all, and there was an engaging innocence about Miss Rayner’s delightful production, reminding us that Grease is 46 years old and belongs to a softer world.