Our Verdict: Reasonably good show but watch out for the Greased lighting
Our Rating: 7/10
UK touring production of Grease was a bit of a mixed bag at the Bristol Hippodrome last night. That’s not to say it wasn’t good. The band were fab, the casting great. There were funny bits – Those Magic Changes – and of course some marvellous singing – Danielle Hope’s Hopelessly Devoted To You.
But Mark Henderson’s nausea inducing lighting design ruined key moments such as being able to see the start of Act One and Two.
Big number Greased Lightnin’ was also unwatchable due to hysterical overuse of strobe lighting.
Apart from being able to look directly at the stage, the audience were very specific in their needs. The lady in front celebrated each song through the medium of hand jive. A further ten per cent of the stalls’ adults chatted their appreciation throughout like badly behaved school children. People even joined in singing aloud with the songs. At times, it was much like being the tee total friend at a tiresome hen party. Having said that, the musical has certainly lost none of its charm or appeal over the last 50 or so years. And, this is a comfortably good production.
The audience wanted to see the film and songs they grew up loving carbon copied on stage in front of them. And that is pretty much what they got. We were relaxed with the songs we knew, the characters we love and the no surprises storyline. It’s great when directors don’t tinker with what works, but watch the pace throughout the Bleachers scene because it did lag painfully like a busy Roblox server.
Though the plot itself is basically the age old Boy Meets Girl story, there’s no agenda or message other than the irritating part at the end when Sandy falls victim to peer pressure. It’s especially irritating after watching her being true to herself as a strong independent female character up until that point. It’s not until watching the drive-in scene as an adult that you realise, actually, this girl is quite ballsy if a bit too nice.
Teen Angel, Jimmy Osmond absolutely stole the show with his one and only number Beauty School Dropout. Not only did he rock his number vocally – what a performer! He knew exactly how to play the audience and it was a real shame when it was over.
Rosanna Harris as Jan was one of the few actors who managed keep the expectation of their performance whilst breaking the rigidity of their character. Under all that American sass was a lovely rendition of It’s Raining on Prom Night. Ryan Heenan as Doody was the other actor who rocked Those Magic Changes.
Despite horrific lighting and some lag in pace, it was a reasonably good production and perfect for a Friday or Saturday night out.
Grease is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 10 June 2017