Grease was the word last night at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, as the brand new UK tour opened. Bringing back the classic hit songs through the narrative we all know and love, this production of Grease felt fresh and had some impressive production values.
Telling the iconic tale of two high school sweethearts Danny and Sandy in the 1950s. With an abundance of hairspray and rock and roll, the budding romances between members of the T-birds with the sassy pink ladies, creates a feel good production full of colour and energy.
Opening with a spectacular overture from the band on stage, creating an electric atmosphere, we are then hit with the powerful ensemble vocals in the opening number Grease Is The Word. With staging and choreography by Arlene Phillips, the whole ensemble come together flawlessly to create a powerhouse of energy. The choreography sweeps up right back to the 50s, which paired with the striking 21st century lighting, creates an astounding visual. I was particularly impressed with Grease Lightening which pulled out all of the stops when it came to production values.
Leading the cast is well-known musical theatre star Danielle Hope, who is nothing less than faultless. She captures the sweet innocence of Sandy, and belts her big numbers with vocal perfection. Her incredible voice appears effortless as she shines as Sandy – with a particularly impressive rendition of Sandra Dee Reprise.
Alongside her was The Wanted’s Tom Parker as Danny, who appeared slightly nervous on the night and didn’t quite have the toughness of the Danny Zuko we all know and love. Whilst his vocals were shaky at first, he managed to pull it together for his big number Sandy which he sang with powerful emotion, however there is still room for improvement. Similarly cast for a celebrity name, Louisa Lytton stars as the gutsy Rizzo. She encapsulates the role excellently, as her natural sass and wit enhances the feisty nature of Rizzo. Her characterisation, movement and energy is top-quality, although it’s a shame her vocals were on the weaker side.
Two stand-out performers who had immeasurable stage presence were Michael Cortez as Sonny, who brought everything to the role in terms of energy, comedy timing and characterisation – my eye was constantly drawn to him during the ensemble numbers. Comparably Gabriella Williams’ depiction of Patty Simcox was exceptional, not only is Williams a first-rate dancer, but her peppy and exaggerative character is tremendously funny.
This current UK tour of Grease will tick every box for fans of the iconic musical, as it is both entirely theatrical and boasts infectious energy from all of the cast.
On until the 25th of March, tickets can be found here.