Review: Grease The Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre

Most people will know Grease thanks to the film version, but this musical adaptation puts a different spin on a classic. With fresh direction from Nikolai Foster and energetic choreography by Arlene Phillips, Grease The Musical is clearly designed to appeal to today’s theatre goers.

For me, in an attempt to jazz up the show, some of the simplicity and sweetness of the characters and the lovely feel-good general vibe is lost a bit. The Burger Palace Boys are full of an immature swagger without a huge amount of vulnerability which means a lot of the lads lack qualities we can really empathise with. Same goes for the Pink Ladies – in an attempt to ensure the women stand up for themselves (and to the men), the women come across as feisty and a bit aggressive. Where’s sweet Sandra Dee and the Danny who turns up in a cardigan to impress her and win back the love of his life? They’re replaced by quite hard, cold characters and I find it slightly tough at times to root for their story.

That said, the cast are fantastic and play their parts well. Dan Partridge plays the very difficult part of Danny Zuko which requires plenty of charming swagger. Understudying as Sandy is the sweet Laura-Jane Fenney. Hannah-Faith Marram plays Patty Simcox with total charm too – a beautiful part for a great actress.

Star of the show for me goes to Jacob Fisher as Teen Angel. Though I’m sure many will hold out for the chance to see Peter Andre in the role, I can’t imagine anyone playing the part with such charisma. Fisher holds the stage in the palm of his hands and, when the whole cast is under the spotlight, it’s Jacob Fisher who shines.

The set is very high-tech, with fancy projections and ever-moving scenery which allows the production to flow from scene to scene seamlessly. However, with a hefty delay at the start of the show due to ‘technical issues’ (and technical issues delaying the start of the show last time I saw it too), I do wonder if it might be a bit complex for a touring show. For those coming for a unique wow-factor of an evening, though, the staging is very special.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see Grease The Musical live at Leeds Grand until 4th December.

Photograph credited to Sean Ebsworth Barnes

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