Reviewed by Gina Reedy
Last night we went to an unforgettable night of incredible singing; vibrant costumes; 1950’s Americana dance music and iconic songs, including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You’re The One That I Want. It was so exciting to return to musical theatre with the joy-filled production of Grease, at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking.
Getting into the theatre was very easy. The car park is part of the centre and parking was only £1.50 (Cash or card). It was incredibly convenient as we walked straight into the lobby, where the staff were checking everyone had their Covid 19 double vaccination or negative lateral flow test result before going into the theatre foyer proper. There is the opportunity to buy a wide range of drinks and snacks in the big airy atrium before entering the very large auditorium. The seats had plenty of legroom and were very comfy in the clean, modern theatre.
Grease originally opened in Chicago in 1971, followed by a move to Broadway in 1972. During the show’s eight-year run, at the time, little known actors including Peter Gallagher, Patrick Swayze and John Travolta all appeared in the production, with Richard Gere understudying many roles before going on to star as Danny Zuko in the 1973 London premiere.
My own knowledge of Grease came from when I first watched the film in 1979 as a teenager at the local cinema. It is the fourth highest grossing live action musical ever.
Right from the beginning you are taken back by the old radio and TV clips from the 1950’s on the fire screen curtain. The cast set the pace for a great night out. The “Grease” opening dance gave an insight of what was to come in terms of Arlene Phillips’ hand in the choreography. The group dances were really in sync and performed dynamically by the whole cast. Throughout the show the variety of dance steps happening simultaneously gave a real sense of excitement. This was emphasised by the stage scenery of Neon signs, movable sets, broken down car and the live orchestra supporting the joyful songs, allowing for spontaneous involvement by the audience.
Sandy, played by Georgia Louise and Danny Zuko played by Dan Partridge, sing their sad farewells after a summer at the beach, before meeting again at Rydell High School.
It is hard for me to comment on all the actors, as there were so many great moments in the show. The strength of the singing talent makes for a really strong performance all round- for me, as a reviewer I kept thinking how will I write in a way to justify this superlative show?
Georgia Louise’s vocals in Hopelessly Devoted to you were absolutely amazing. Her voice range and the way it filled the auditorium was breath taking.
Peter Andre, as Vince Fontaine was constantly acting in the background in his music studio and his confidence in the role really lit up the stage when he came to lead the hand jive/dance competition. He brought humour and real talent to the character of Teen Angel and was dynamic in the way he led his songs. The audience responded by cheering and singing along.
Inez Budd as Marty had an incredible voice and it had a vibrancy that rang out loud in her solo performance, as did Tendai Rinomhota as Rizzo.
Dan Partridge (Danny) and Paul French (Kenickie) and the Burger Palace guys were convincing as a group of lads each demonstrating individual characteristics- but in Greased Lightnin showing gang mentality and great co-ordination in their dance.
Josh Barnett’s (Roger) comedy acting and powerhouse voice added to the sub-plot, which for me was new, as I hadn’t really picked up on it from the film.
The curtain call was a reprise of all the well-known songs and the audience joined in with singing and dancing. It was a great ending to a fantastic night out. It is only showing until 11 September so I’d recommend booking now and going tomorrow!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Tickets from £13 (plus £3.65 booking fee)
Grease is at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking until 11 September 2021
For more information and to make a booking tickets can be bought from: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/grease/new-victoria-theatre/
New Victoria Theatre, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ