Grease, by Now Productions, directed by Joe Russell and Bianca Woods, unfortunately had only four performances. Opening Night was lots of fun with the rebellious teenagers from Rydell High School singing and dancing, strutting their stuff, and flirting with each other. Most of the performers were teenagers (between 14 and 20 years), which is very appropriate. However, it’s interesting to note that the production was set in 1959, a long time before a lot of these teens were born! Although I’m sure they studied the 1978 movie to get some background.
There were two slightly different casts – the Summer Cast on Opening night and the Lighting Cast alternated. I would have loved to have seen the other cast as well, because several of the main characters were played by different people in different roles.
The musical numbers were enthusiastically sung and danced. There were two songs in the stage show that weren’t in the movie, which was just one of the differences. The wardrobe and costumes were well organised by Kylie Mobbs and Lynda Cook, with lots of 50s rock and roll outfits. I have to make special note of the 16 silver hair roller hats in ‘Teen Angel’ song which were fantastic! The props were excellent and the set was minimalistic but very cleverly created by Joe Collis, Rob Young, Joe Russell, Chris Brown, Andrew Cridland and Shaun Baseby.
Often there can be sound and special effects issues on Opening Night, yet I only noticed a couple of glitches in the sound (dead air on the radio is the worst thing!) but the musical and vocal direction was very good. The outstanding vocals were Maisy Jo Russell, who was ‘Sandy’ in the production I saw and ‘Rizzo’, who was acted with a great mocking ‘attitude’ and sung beautifully by Isabelle Tresize.
Kane Mobbs as Danny Zuko was outstanding – singing and dancing and just continuous action and movement; he also had amazing facial expressions.
The others who deserve special mention: Zachary Baseby, who played Roger, had a great singing voice. Carter Wagland, who played ‘Doody’, the youngest Thunderbird. He’s only fourteen and he was fantastic! Damian Wachla convincingly played Vince Fontaine, the DJ. Others to impress were Zehta Herring playing ‘Frenchie’, and also, Emily Cumming, a fine actress, was very convincing as ‘Patti’. The Directors did a really good job of casting as it seemed that the people were well cast for their roles. There were lots of other good singers and actors and dancers, but I just don’t have time and space to mention them all.
Mandy Russell’s choreography was very good, but everyone wasn’t always in sync, especially when there were lots of people on the stage. And it’s important to be aware of other people’s space when you’re in a crowd or in the ensemble numbers.
The audience reaction was very good, quite noisy, in spite of wearing masks, and there was lots of singing, clapping and applauding, especially for some of the more popular songs, in particular ‘Summer Nights’, ‘Greased Lightning’, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ as well as the ‘Grease Megamix’ at the end where the whole company did a reprise of quite a few of the numbers.
You probably won’t get to see it, because it’s only on for a couple of days. But I am sure it was a lot of fun for the kids to rehearse and perform in the show. Importantly, it was very entertaining to watch. Well done everyone!