Grease at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

Royal & Derngate, Northampton

25-29 October 2016


Reviewed by Jayne Wiggins

This iconic West End hit has been doing the circuits since the 70s and never seems to lose its charm! I have to admit that I was unaware of who was performing this Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey classic until we got to the theatre and were handed the programme. I have only seen this on stage once before – a school production, brilliant but lacking some of the iconic scenes and songs which are scarred into my memory! With that in mind I felt a little disappointed as I sat down, even knowing that this company has won the NODA Best Musical Award 10 times!

The Northampton Musical Theatre Company made full use of this fantastic theatre, using the box for the radio presenter and a set which left me in awe! The use of concertina scenery and foldaway furniture made the transitions between scenes easy and seamless. The technical crew really do need congratulating on the set design which allowed each scene to set the tone perfectly. Lighting and costume were to be expected from a show which is so well known. The pink ladies did not disappoint with the iconic jackets, and Frenchy was recognisable from the start of the show with her hair! My biggest disappointment however was the sound. Too often throughout the show some of the head mics crackled at crucial moments of speech or song, which was really off putting and distracting from the great vocal of this cast.

Set in the 50s and based around the students of Rydell High School, the musical tells a love story between Sandy and Danny, and the complicated stories of high school students as they near the end of their school lives. Rachel James was a classy Sandy with great vocals which gave me tingles as she sang the Sandra Dee reprisal (and she squeezed into those iconic end of show leggings!). George Johnston was a fun and talented Danny who did justice to the ‘Sandy’ track which I was worrying about as it is one of my favourite songs in the show! Both talented vocalists and perfect for their parts. My shout outs though need to go to the amazing lightning ball Susie Pack as Rizzo. WOW! She blew me away with her vocals and her portrayal of bag girl Rizzo. ‘There are Worse Things I Could Do’ is the track most teenage girls want to sing in this musical! Susie pulled this off with a professionalism I would expect of any professional company! The scene was a removal from the usual one where I have seen this number, she sang this to Sandy rather than about her boyfriend, which gave it an intimacy tenderness I wasn’t expecting. My other shout out goes to the very talented Dan Hodson as Kenickie. He owned that stage! ‘Greased Lightning’ is the track most likely to get people up and dancing at parties, and I very nearly did at the theatre! The set (the car itself!) was fantastic but Dan’s Kenickie made the show for me. I was fixed on him every time he was back on stage. Nick Hart amazed with his crooner voice as Teen Angel, while David Routlegde (Roger) and Jay Snedker (Jan) had me rolling in the isle laughing with their version of ‘Blue Moon’!

All in all, the show was a very pleasant surprise. The mics were the only thing which let it down at times for me. But the show was very much a professional show which is well worth seeing. I will certainly be looking out for more from Northampton Musical Theatre Company – a great 4 out of 5 only for the sound.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost from £10 to £22 (booking fees may apply).

Grease is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 29 October 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

4 Star

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