City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Grease, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 10 May 2011

Robin Cousins and the teen Angels
Show Details
Paul Nicholas and David Ian Associates Ltd
David Gilmore (director), Arlene Philips (musical staging & choreographer), Stori James, Mike Dixon (Music supervision and re-arrangements)
Danny Bayne (Danny), Carina Gillespie (Sandy), Kate Somerset How (Rizzo), Ricky Rojas (Kenicie), Robin Cousins (Teen Angel)
Running time: 

‘Grease’ grabs a new generation of young and not so young fans with this touring production currently showing at the Playhouse. Grease celebrates its 40th Anniversary on the stage in 2012 while the iconic 1978 film is never far away from the small screen.

Back in 2007, ITV ran a reality talent show from which Danny Bayne emerged as the winner and he reprises the role of ‘Danny’ in this production. Ironically, the show is produced by a company with Paul Nicholas as one of the partners. Paul appeared in the pre-film era in the lead role with a certain Elaine Paige as ‘Sandy’.

Grease opened with the band playing an overture that augured well for the rest of the evening.

At first I feared that this production was going to be like a ‘tribute’ to the film as each character seemed to be impersonating their celluloid counterpart and while audiences like familiarity it would be good if the Director could take a brave pill and allow the actors to develop the dialogue as if they were coming to it for the first time.

Having made that comment, the production is very slick with one early surprise that almost lifted the person next to me out of her seat. A couple of the scenes showed originality that was welcome particularly wrapping the show in American style radio.

The storyline is fairly thin-set with Rydell High, the 50’s equivalent of ‘Waterloo Road’ with the emphasis on the Senior Students, their loves and lifestyle and the ongoing problems of peer pressure.

The set is exceptionally well lit with the ‘X’ factor look around the edges and overall a great sound from cast and band.

Dancing under the overall direction of Arlene Philips is energetic and uses the style of the time effectively with Sophie Zucchini as Cha Cha great as the competition winner.

All the big numbers that would be part of a sing along were delivered really well but a couple of the lesser known songs seemed to drag a bit although this may be down to the original material.

One of the problems of presenting the cast as look-a-likes is that while they can match the dialogue it’s more difficult to replicate the vocals and on some numbers the voices were thinner than the original stars.

The cast was a good standard with some of the smaller parts making an impact, in particular, Darren John as geeky ’Eugene’ and Sammy Kelly as student leader ‘Patty’.

Danny Bayne played his namesake switching well from the cool gang leader to The Man of ‘Sandy’s dreams.

Carina Gillespie’s transformation from goody two shoes into the gangster’s moll was complete and she handled the different styles of songs really well. Kate Somerset How has the best part as ‘Rizzo’ as the worldly wise antagonist of the new girl with the other 3 pink ladies playing their parts to perfection.

Lauren Stroud as ‘Frenchy’ shares her scene with her Robin Cousins as her ‘Teen Angel’. The warmth of the welcome to the former skater and head judge of ‘Dancing on Ice’ demonstrated how well being on the telly is driving the attraction of new audiences to the theatre. Robin is no stranger to musical theatre and delivered his song with great aplomb.

Overall, this is a good night’s entertainment, well received by an appreciative audience who were re-living the show on the way down the street and on their mobile ‘phones to those at home.

Grease runs at the Playhouse until 21 May. Buy tickets