There Will Be Tears on Your Pillow If You Miss Out
There are worse things I could do, than fill this review with a joke or two. I could encourage you to stay home every night, and watch the TV without the light but I won't, because Grease the Musical is coming to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and after watching it in Sydney, it's definitely the one that I want.
Be prepared to get involved, all images courtesy Grease website
Even though the original Grease was the Broadway musical in 1972, years before the movie with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta was made in 1978, most people will only be familiar with the movie.
Often when popular movies are made into musicals or stage shows there is the expectation that the real life production will mirror the movie exactly. But not only is this usually technically impossible, it's also a bit boring. That being said, Grease in parts is sometimes nothing like the movie, from the opening scenes with Bert Newton playing disc jockey Vince Fontaine cracking some pretty terrible jokes, to a number of songs that aren't in the movie.
Chilllllll, baby. It's alright. The stage show is still a rollicking good time, and even though the producers have shaken things up by changing the structure of the story, swapping scenes, beefing up some characters and losing others altogether, I challenge anyone who watches Grease not to leave with a huge smile on their face, and a rocking desire to break into song.
Be prepared for some interactive moments: this is live theatre and you can see the actors are having a blast. When I saw the show in Sydney, Bert Newton was making radio announcements about people in the audience birthdays, anniversaries along with some eye rolling gags. So if you're heading along to the show, maybe contact the theatres if you have something special you want mentioned. The audience is also encouraged to sing by Rydell High headmistress Miss Lynch, played by the impressive Val Lehman (of Prisoner fame).
Danny is played by Australian Idol finalist Rob Mills and he was so much fun to watch. He almost nailed John Travolta's trademark laugh ('a ho ho ho'), which had the audience in raptures. His team of sidekicks, the T-Birds, have been beefed up for the stage show, with extra songs and scenes that really add to the show. These are not new songs per se they all appear in the movie as radio or background music, so they are both familiar and fun.
Mills is offset by Gretel Scarlett playing nice girl Sandy. Because of the nature of her character, Sandy doesn't get the big numbers that some of the other characters get, but she plays the role admirably although I wish the costume department re-thought her final outfit.
There are two characters who deserve a special mention, and I would return to watch the show just to see them again. Lucy Maunder plays Rizzo, who has one of the best songs ever to belt out in the show, There Are Worse Things I Could Do. Following in Stockard Channing's high heels must be daunting, but Maunder fills them impressively.
By far the funniest part of the show, Todd McKenney playing Teen Angel
Even better is Todd McKenney's cameo as Teen Angel, who sings Beauty School Drop Out to Frenchie. Full of cheese and hamming it up to the audience, McKenney is clearly having the time of his life with this role, stopping at one point to encourage the audience to cheer louder. I haven't laughed hard than that since Whoopi Goldberg got her dress stuck in the shredder in Jumpin' Jack Flash (don't ask).
Probably the least impressive of all the big names was Anthony Callea as Johnny Casino, but that could simply be the nature of the song. He didn't seem to having as much fun as some of the others.
This musical is fun. It's electrifying. It doesn't take itself as seriously as some of the other big shows and as such there is a degree of flexibility that allows the actors to make it their own. If you loved the movie, you will love the musical, just be prepared for things to be a little different.
Grease will open in Crown Theatre, Perth on June 21, 2014 and run until July 18, 2014. Tickets are now on sale. Book online here.
Grease will open in Festival Theatre, Adelaide on August 3, 2014. Get on the waitlist NOW.