REVIEW: ‘Grease’, Birmingham Hippodrome

‘Grease’, Birmingham Hippodrome

Which show is automatic? Systematic? Hydromatic?

Why, it’s Grease: The Musical!

Grease is the word in Birmingham as the musical lands in the city as part of its UK tour. 

An electrifying new version of the iconic musical, Grease is the one that you want.

After a whirlwind summer romance, teenagers Sandy and Danny are unexpectedly reunited when Sandy’s plans change, and she transfers to Rydell High for senior year. Will the two manage to rekindle their love in the face of teenage tribulation?

Directed by Nikolai Foster, with a book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, with choreography by Arlene Phillips, Grease is back, and its bigger and better than ever before.

Featuring the classic hits including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You’re The One That I Want, Grease will have you hand-jiving all the way home – if you’ve managed to restrain yourself from dancing in the aisles at the theatre.

A revamped version with a fresh, contemporary feel, the power this musical is supplying shows no signs of waning. Embodying the spirit of 1950s America in its colourful set design, costume and lighting, the production is slick, sexy, and comes with a high voltage. 

It’s hot young cast are incredibly energetic and, with all major characters given room for character development, and their own time to shine, they embody the highs and lows of teenage life, be it maintaining street cred, or plucking up the courage to ask someone to the school dance.

From the opening number, the cast demonstrate outstanding vocal ability, great execution of choreography and charismatic stage presence, with a talent for characterisation. From the girls’ night in to the boys’ night out, the Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys are wonderful caricatures of young students.

Dan Patridge is too cool for school as leather-clad greaser Danny Zuko, leader of the Burger Palace Boys. Despite a summer romance with Sandy, he has an image to maintain, and is detached from her when in the company of his friends. During the number ‘Sandy’, however, his true feelings for her are revealed, and as his vocals soar, so does his heart, as he realises how much Sandy means to him.

Martha Kirby makes her professional stage debut as Sandy, and what a debut it is. Her vocals effortless, she performs the score brilliantly, and with particular verve during ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, a song she fills with emotion. Pure, sweet and innocent, Sandy does not immediately fit in with the other girls, those who drink, smoke and flirt. However, rather admirably, she stands up for herself, confronts those that mock her, and questions Danny’s behaviour. 

Together, the two have a very touching chemistry, one that sparkles during their duets.

Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky is excellent as an aloof, but really rather lonely, Rizzo, demonstrating an older-headed, devil-may-care attitude in front of her friends, but a sadness and pain during her number, ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’. Ryan Anderson is glorious as Roger, his vocals first-rate, his movement flawless, and the comic nature of the character delightfully realised.

A dreamy Peter Andre guest stars as the heavenly Teen Angel, and his vocals (or what you could hear of them amidst the deafening screams of his audience) during ‘Beauty School Dropout’ are divine.

Highlights of the musical include ‘Greased Lightning’, with its gravity-defying car, ‘Born To Hand Jive’, with its fabulous and fast-paced choreography, and ‘We Go Together’, which instils a joyous sense of euphoria and unity.

An exciting, glamorous, great new version that will reignite your passion for this musical, and enhance a love of musical theatre, this production will have you hopelessly devoted to Grease.

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