Bristol Hippodrome

Grease - June 2017

Danny and Sandy

singalong theatre

REVIEW: This week the Bristol Hippodrome welcomes Grease; the popular hit musical that has been attracting audiences for more than 40 years and continues to be adored through the generations.

Centred around two infatuated teenagers in the booming 1950s and their gangs of trendy friends, Grease tells a tale of passion, jealousy, friendship and all things high school.

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John that first took on the roles of high-school sweethearts Danny and Sandy in the iconic 1978 film.

The show actually premiered six years previously on Broadway and went on to be nominated for seven Tony awards before taking to the cinemas. What's even more surprising is that prior to Travolta being cast as Danny, he toured with the stage show as a 17 year old, playing the role of comical nerd Doody.

It's no wonder given our long standing relationship with the show that our expectations should be high. But could director David Gilmore deliver?

The opening scene featured arguably one of the best musical preludes that the Hippodrome has seen in a long time.

Instead of the small seven-man band hiding away in the blackened orchestra pit, they took centre stage and got the audience on their feet with a number of well known Grease hits.

With groovy music and a radio monologue driving the narrative forward, the band’s presence was both fantastic fun and important to the storyline.

Then we met Danny, played by Wanted singer Tom Parker, and Sandy, played by Danielle Hope.

The pair had been separated by a misunderstanding following a ‘special’ summer together and became swiftly reunited again after ending up at the same high school by chance.

What was unfortunate, however, is that while they attempted to give the impression that their complicated social lives interfered with their ability to express passionate love for one another, they actually came across as a bit fickle and disinterested.

In fact, it wasn't until midway through the second act that we saw any sort of affection between the two, and that was only when Danny groped Sandy’s breast in a rundown car at the drive-through causing her to storm off.

Saying that, both Parker and Hope had strong voices that lived up to the melodies we have come to know and love.

Sandy’s friends, The Pink Ladies, were true to the characters we have come to know in the past, with Rizzo (played by Louisa Lytonn) adding a couple of much needed punctuation marks to the show.

Similarly, Danny’s buddies lived up to the teddy-boy image, and at one point delivered a totally bizarre but loveable homoerotic shower scene number which baffled and delighted the somewhat unsuspecting audience.

Similarly, Danny’s buddies lived up to the teddy-boy image, and at one point delivered a totally bizarre but loveable homoerotic shower scene number which baffled and delighted the somewhat unsuspecting audience.

Even if the storyline felt a tad flat, the songs were the show’s saving grace. You're The One That I Want, Summer Nights and Greased Lightening were particular favourites, with the lady in Row P of the stalls showing everyone that she was ‘born to hand jive baby’!

While the songs were upbeat, energetic and very well choreographed thanks to Arlene Phillips, the extreme lighting choices meant than most of the audience will likely be visiting their opticians today due to the blotchy spots they're now seeing.

Lighting director Mark Henderson might enjoy spending his spare time staring directly into the centre of the sun, but the squinting faces of the audience members indicated that his intense strobe lighting choices were far from appreciated.

Costume design by Andreane Neofitou was excellent, with more 140 outfit changes made throughout the performance.

It was a nostalgic pleasure to see so many party skirts, bobby socks and leather jackets on stage at once.

Furthermore, the set design by Terry Parsons captured the quintessential ‘American cool’ themes throughout.  

Finally, it would be poor form not to mention the one and only Jimmy Osmond who made a second act appearance as Teen Angel.

It was only natural that Gilmore would milk Osmond’s cameo for everything it was worth – and rightly so!

He could sing, dance, and even had an authentic American accent – something that had been lacking in many other areas of the production.

While Osmond made about 600 encores, the audience lapped each one up and frankly, it was by far one of the most enjoyable moment of the show.

Grease runs until Saturday, June 10 at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Emma Rowlands

Grease is the word! 

PREVIEW: The hit 70s musical returns in 2017 for a UK tour.
Casting for the tour includes Tom Parker (The Wanted) who makes his musical theatre debut playing Danny Zuko, Danielle Hope (Over the Rainbow winner) who plays Sandy, and Louisa Lytton (Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders) who plays Rizzo. 
Since opening on Broadway in 1972 and the smash hit movie starring John Travolta and Olivia   Netown-John, Grease’s place has been firmly established in the cultural Hall of Fame, having seduced the hearts of millions with its back-to-back sizzling tunes. 
It’s the original high-school musical featuring everyone’s favourite characters - Sandy, Danny, the groovy T Birds, the sassy Pink Ladies and the whole gang at Rydell High - and all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Sandy, Greased Lightnin’ and many more. 
Voted the number one greatest musical, Grease has proved that a musical love story, bursting with denim, cheerleaders, slick hairstyles, rock’n’roll, 1950s pop culture and an irresistible mix of teenage angst and young romance is timeless and universal.  
Grease is the ultimate feel-good, pick-me-up musical - an electrifying extravaganza, packed with fun, energy and vibrant physicality. 
The show is guaranteed to thrill audiences and leave everyone hand-jiving the night away with ‘A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop, a wop-bam-boom!’. 
This award-winning production originally opened in the West End in 1993 where it enjoyed a hugely successful run of 6 years at the Dominion and Cambridge Theatres.  
The show has since toured throughout the world playing to

sell-out audiences and breaking box office records everywhere, having been seen by more than 12 million people in the UK.
Tom Parker has amassed worldwide success with his band The Wanted, achieving two UK number one and nice top 10 singles.
 Danielle Hope made her professional debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium, after capturing the hearts of the country and winning the BBC's smash hit Over The Rainbow having competed against over 9,000 girls. 
Louisa Lytton trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and secured her first professional role as the innocent schoolgirl Ruby Allen in EastEnders. Following this Louisa joined The Bill, playing the inexperienced and shy police officer Beth Green.

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, directed by David Gilmore (Daisy Pulls It Off, Happy Days, Song & Dance, Footloose) and choreographed by Arlene Phillips (Starlight Express, Saturday Night Fever, Flashdance The Musical and BBC Strictly Come Dancing), designed by Terry Parsons, with costumes by Andreane Neofitou.

Grease is presented by Paul Nicholas and David Ian.

It opens at the Bristol Hippodrome on Monday, June 5, for six nights.

Click HERE for tickets from £15 with concessions available at certain performances.