Cardiff family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.


Review: Grease at Wales Millennium Centre.

The story of Grease really begins in 1970 when Jim Jacobs first had the idea of a musical based around good old fashioned rock 'n' roll! From playing old records at a cast party to a full theatrical production of Grease, there was no looking back for this feel-good musical.
Last night Warren and I attended Wales Millennium Centre to see Grease in action, live on stage! We were really excited because it's the kind of performance that gets everyone grooving and it ended up feeling like a bit of a date night for both of us.

The scene was set with flashing lights and a beautiful introduction from the very talented orchestra. The music was outstanding and it was great to see them upon the stage giving it their all. As soon as the show began it was hard not to be impressed by the costumes and set. The 50's clothing was spot on, with slicked back hair and full skirts, it was a fashionable feast for the eyes.

Each character looked the part, and it was thanks to costume and make-up that each character stood out. For example, I could easily spot Rizzo, my favourite character from the movie. Their hair, the bright clothing tailored to each person and their presence on stage immediately felt like it was going to be a great show!

There was a lot of energy from the off, and it didn't falter once. Tom Parker plays Danny, the cool teen who doesn't know how to choose between being cool or being the guy Sandy fell in love with. I don't believe anyone can match the legendary John Travolta performance of 1978, but he gave it a good shot. I thought his character appeared a bit more on the creepy side though, especially his interaction with the female characters, and sometimes the impersonation of Travolta seemed unnecessary. I think I would have preferred a fresh take on Danny, but perhaps that's not what a typical Grease fan is looking for?

He belted out song after song but I didn't quite gel with his performance of Danny. His comedy performance was effective, and gained a lot of laughs, and his interaction with other characters really worked during the whole performance. He also seemed to have the right body language for Danny, if you're keen on a replica, and I could tell he'd really got into the head space of the character.

Sandy was performed by Danielle Hope and I was really impressed with her performance. I thought she had a lot of stage presence and she created a fresh version of Sandy. I found her less irritating than her TV counterpart, and a lot more likeable. She was sweet but also sassy at times, and her voice was wonderful, although Warren said he felt she could have let go a whole lot more (I think this is a good thing though!). I thought she played the part perfectly and I had goosebumps as she sang Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee towards the end of the second act.

The T-Birds were pretty hilarious and well cast, especially Doody (Ryan Keenan) and Roger (Oliver Jacobson). Doody was incredibly cute on stage, and when he sprang to life with Those Magic Changes everyone was in awe! As for Roger, he completely stole the show with his duet of Mooning with Jan (Rosanna Harris). His voice was so impressive and they worked really well together!

The Pink Ladies were outstanding, and I can honestly say they all gave it 100% as they performed alongside Danny and Sandy. I particularly like Rizzo (my favourite character) but I wish the sound had been a little louder on her songs, her voice was gorgeous and husky and Louisa Lytton completely owned the character as she strutted up and down the stage veering between bitter, bitchy and bitter-sweet. She was ace and I loved her version of There Are Worse Things I Could Do.

Frenchy (Rhiannon Chesterman) also stood out, her voice was seriously cute and her presence on stage was strong. I loved how she interacted with the other characters, especially Doody. Marty (Lauren Atkins) and Jan were also perfectly cast and the Pink Ladies ended up feeling particularly real to me in relation to the movie.

In the second act, Jimmy Osmond sent the audience into a craze, and he loved it! He was pretty hilarious, looked great in sparkles and he sang his heart out! It was nice to see so many people react in such a way for a performer. 

I have to say that out of all the cast it was actor Callum Evans, who performed as Eugene, that surprised me the most. He really grasped the comedy side of the character, employing a lot visual elements with his face and body to make the audience laugh. He also performed acrobatics across the stage, and he was the kind of character always busy doing something funny during scenes, it was literally a case of 'blink and you miss it'! He was a fab part of the performance and I'm still laughing because of him!

There was one issue I had throughout the show, and that was with the use of microphones during certain songs. Firstly, it felt a bit odd to see the characters using cordless microphones during a show set in the 50's. Not only that, but it was obvious the cast had become used to their headpieces and when they switched to microphones they were still moving, dancing and jiving without always singing into the mic. This meant words were lost and songs were sometimes a bit less powerful than they would have been without this addition to the show. 

I have to say, the whole show was a lot of fun and everyone in the audience enjoyed it. The choreography was some of the best we've seen, the set was perfect for this kind of performance (we loved the car scene and scene changes in general) and the cast were great. You could tell they were enjoying themselves and they gave it everything they had.

If you're an 80's child I imagine this movie is engrained on your brain… I still remember all the kids at school singing the songs and acting out the parts, and at one stage I remember a group of us at my old girls' school trying to recreate the iconic movie on the school stage! Nothing came of it though, but it was fun while it lasted…

I guess that's the point of Grease in the first place, isn't it? Fun! So if you're a fan of the film, the music or you've never seen it before (where have you been?!) I can guarantee you'll have a fantastic night out.
Grease is showing at Wales Millennium Centre until 20th July 2017, so grab your tickets now!

Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

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