Grease, Springers AOD - Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
When one thinks of Grease we all picture the film with John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, leather jackets, slicked back hair, pink lady jackets and lots of fun.
Springers version of this gave us lots of those memories and more. As the leader of the pack – Danny Zuko, Jon Newman had the requisite strut and thrust and playing opposite him as Sandy was Hannah Yarwood who was all sugar and sweet as the innocent Sandy but she definitely showed us her sexy side at the end. They both worked well together and gave us some great moments throughout the evening both vocally and in their overall performance.
The remaining T- Birds were James Beaver as Kenickie, Dan Schultz as Roger, Dan Carlton as Sonny and Ian Pavelin as Doody. Dan Schultz as Roger sang the painfully high 'Mooning' with ease and Dan Carlton as Sonny was perfect as the desperate lethario. They all had very strong characters but I particularly liked Ian who squeezed every ounce of comedy out of the character especially in his first number ‘Those Magic Changes’.
The pink ladies comprised Alexandra Philips, who was in her comedic element as food loving Jan, Ruby Mortimer as Marty, Kat Mckeon as Frenchy and Sophie- Anne Chaplin as Rizzo. All the girls worked well together but I particularly like Ruby’s rendition of ‘Freddy My Love’ and I thought Kat maintained her Frenchy character throughout which was charming. I wished Sophie-Anne hadn't shouted her dialogue so much as Rizzo. Rizzo is a complex character and one that is hard to portray sympathetically but I felt Sophie-Anne didn't ever quite get under the skin of her on this occasion.
Kieran Bedwell as Eugene and Izzy Churches as Patty were both suitably geeky and I thought Susan Corina as Miss Lynch was perfectly cast as the School Principal.
The company which were mostly adults worked hard to portray high school students and congratulations to the choreographers - Brett Gillborn and Kieran Bedwell on some inventive and interesting choreography especially with the use of props to give added dimensions to the routines. Helen Arber who played Cha-Cha stood out in all the routines as she danced everything with great conviction and style.
For me the vocal performance of the night went to Mat Smith as the Teen Angel, not only did he look the part of a high school heart throb but he sang beautifully too.
The downside throughout sadly were the scene changes which were often long black episodes without any musical cover which slowed down the storyline. I appreciate the set was large and complicated but perhaps more could have been done in view by the cast – which is perfectly acceptable these days in modern musicals and some added music would help to keep the audience engaged.
However, all in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and if you are longing for ‘Summer Nights’ then get along to the Civic Theatre as this is ‘the one that you want’!