Always a delight to experience a new theatre company. Well, new to me, anyway, which is a shame as Starcross Youth Theatre are celebrating their 30th Anniversary which means based on the evidence of Grease, I have missed a heck of a lot of great shows.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

I’m not going to dwell on the plot; it’s Grease, and if you don’t know it, where have you been all your life? Simply put, girl meets boy, fall in love, amidst lots of feelgood fun and great songs. But to have that you need a fabulous cast and crew and I’m happy to say Starcross delivered in bunches. What was clear from the start was not only professionalism all round, but quality as well. When you enjoy a youth production as much as big theatre shows, you know the company have much to offer. This was well-paced and full of instantly recognisable numbers of musical theatre history: Summer Days, You’re the One That I Want, Greased Lightening and so much more.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

Some of the roles, as is often the case in youth productions, were split, giving more members a chance to shine. Playing Sandy on my visit was Christine Cross who was amazing, giving a Girl Next Door everyone warmed to from the start. Christine particularly smashed in style what is my favourite number in the show, Hopelessly Devoted to You, sending goosebumps rising when she hit the high notes. As Danny, we also had excellence in Brandon Harrison, equally at the top of his game with Sandy.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

But those aren’t the only love birds in Grease. Rizzo is such an iconic role, needing to have someone who can manage that sass, and Faith Whitehouse did that including a tremendous rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do. Alongside, equally as excellent was Harry Webb as Kinickie, leading the rest of the T-Birds which included Noel Jeavons (Sonny), Lucy Keates (Doody) and Alex Hill (Roger). Supporting in the Pink Ladies were Shayera MacDonald (Marty), Lauren Downes (Frenchy) and Lily Cross (Jan). Outsiders to the main groups were Scarlett Bennett (Patty) and Jamie Nutting (Eugene) and like all principals, they totally owned their roles.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

Special mention for the dancing talents of Lexie Jennings as Cha Cha at the climax of an exceptional routine during Born to Hand Jive. Then there were those playing the adults. Chloe James was Miss Lynch while Ben Harley played Vince Fontaine. Plus, in the comic interlude of Grease, Beauty School Dropout, we had Mitchel Griffiths as Teen Angel. This cameo role, in professional performances, tends to be portrayed by a big star name, however here, Griffiths showed with such a phenomenal voice that he was up there with the best.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

Now I mentioned that some roles were split and only having seen one showing, I missed those who would have had principal roles on alternate days but on my night were featured in the ensemble. However, I’ll credit them, as I am sure they were marvellous as were all on show: Kelsey Taylor (Sandy), Elsie Harrison (Rizzo), River Onions (Marty), Dimitri MacDonald (Sonny), Sharon Kouessieu (Frenchy), Lil-Grace Palmer (Jan), Jack Harley (Roger), Bethany Broomhall (Patty) and Jay MacDonald (Eugene). Rounding off the rest of an excellent cast were Emmie Adcock, Ellie Fletcher-Brown, Erin Keates, Sofia Nahavandi-Nejad, Alexa Nutting, Lottie Wilkes, Zadie Wilson-Smith and Kitty Worth.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

Producer/Director Phil Cross MBE spoke with pride afterwards about Starcross, also highlighting the Junior Members who have a Showcase – March 26 this year. He stressed the need to progress and keep the next generation coming, an ethos I totally agree with. Also on production was Christine Cross with Belinda Cross and Chloe James aiding in direction. April Kruszynski assisted by Emma Bably oversaw choreography and Ben Batt led an excellent band.

This was a marvellous show from Starcross and those 30 years of existence are due to be celebrated on the 17th and 18th of June this year at the same Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton. Well worth a check out.

Grease — Arena Theatre Wolverhampton — 23 February 2023

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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