Tag Archive: Grease

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


Antony N Britt

“Rama lama lama, ka dinga da dinga dong.” 

At least that’s what I think the lyrics are. I performed We Go Together in panto and I don’t think I ever got the words right. 

Grease—Highbury Theatre Sutton Coldfield —8 July 2022

At short notice, I went to see Grease (School Edition) by Script Youth Musical Theatre Company, and I was so glad I did. Always a supporter of local companies and youth theatre and from the moment the show began, I knew I was going to enjoy the evening.

I’m not going to go over the plot of Grease (Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey) and this was the first time I have seen a junior edition of any show. Shorter and more suitable for younger cast members, this edition keeps the fun and spirit of the original version. To be honest, I’ve only seen Grease once before and apart from the removal of the pregnancy plot and alternative version of Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee, I didn’t notice many more differences. I’m sure there were but the fact I was so immersed in the show is a credit to a wonderful performance by all on stage.

In the role of Sandy was Erin Mooney who was superb in her headline number (and my favourite Grease song), Hopelessly Devoted to You. Likewise, Ollie Roberts as Danny channelled his best Travolta with Sandy, and both captured their roles perfectly.

Unless living on a deserted island for the last 50 years, everyone has heard of You’re the One That I Want, Summer Nights and Greased Lightening, but there are many more feelgood songs in this show. One not just for principals, but a large ensemble as well of which there was plenty of talent. Shakin’ at the High School Hop, Born to Hand Jive, Mooning and Freddy My Love are all good numbers and certainly had the audience full of applause after each.

Grease—Highbury Theatre Sutton Coldfield —8 July 2022

In addition to the main two, Grease is full of excellent supporting characters and to be successful you need the right people in the roles. Now when I watch a youth production, one person often registers with me more than others and on this occasion, it was Evie Rice as Rizzo. Yes, it’s an iconic role but you need excellence to fulfil its potential. Evie was in character right from the go, full of sass and attitude, facial expressions, and reactions consistent throughout. Evie tells in her programme biography that Rizzo is a “Strong character, so unlike herself,” which made the performance even more remarkable. And superb in There are Worse Things I Could Do. Well done.

Another great moment was Beauty School Dropout with Finlay Laidlaw doubling as Teen Angel alongside his T-Bird, Doody. It is one of my guilty pleasures, partaking in OTT performances and Finlay was on top of his game in this number; the audience showing its love and appreciation as deserved.

Grease is a great show by the fact there are plenty of principal roles in which to shine. Harry Robbins (Kenickie), Aimie Whillis (Frenchy), Josef Hammond (Sonny), Reanne Witheridge (Marty), Zachariah Scrivens (Roger) and Bethany Sall (Jan) all gave so much.

And there were a further 23 on stage in terms of excellent dancers and ensemble. Amature Theatre is for everyone with each as important as the lead. This is a nice company which showed enthusiasm throughout, the reaction to the deserved applause appreciated. Script Youth is also managed well. I felt welcomed on arrival and throughout the experience.

In charge of Production and Choreography was Louise Farmer who can be immensely proud of her cast and crew. Assisting, though, on Choreography was youth member, Molly Chamberlain, who also figured in a principal role as Patty the Cheerleader. Musical Direction was in safe hands with stalwart of Midlands Theatre, Chris Corcoran overseeing an excellent band.

A Lovely, enjoyable evening out and I look forward to more from Script Youth Musical Theatre Company. They prove youth and theatre do go together.

With a “Shoo-bop sha wadda wadda, yippity boom de boom.” 

Grease—Highbury Theatre Sutton Coldfield —8 July 2022


Antony N Britt

What came first, the stage or the movie? That’s a question sometimes asked when attending a performance which has been showcased in both mediums. And it might surprise a few that Grease was on Broadway six years before the 1978 Newton-John/Travolta film, such is the iconic status of that version. As with Annie recently, I had seen neither. Okay, I probably have seen most of Grease, one way or another in bits during the million and one times it’s been on TV, but this was a first for me, viewing from start to finish.

So how did it start? Quite well actually. In a predominantly female audience, we had a good opening with Grease is the Word by the company before the legendary Summer Nights. However, for me, this summer night didn’t get going until the energetic and brilliantly choreographed Greased Lightening. A great showcase by all involved; it was amazing.

But then we had a series of lulls. The show did drop several times with a risk of the audience losing interest. As a writer, I immediately saw that some of this was the script, but also the energy on stage fell too. These lapses were only temporary, though, and it wasn’t long before things picked up again. The script is nearly fifty years old now, so maybe it’s time for an update to give a more contemporary feel in terms of language and structure.

The same can be said for Act Two which did not become exciting until Hand Jive. In fact, the several preceding minutes were mostly irrelevant. Which is a crime. You really must make every word count.

It really lifted, though, with my number of the night, Hopelessly Devoted to You. This was sung with passion and quality by Martha Kirby (Sandy) who gave a five-star performance throughout the evening.

In the opposite lead role was Dan Partridge who delivered a softer Danny than might have previously been seen. He did well, though, and it’s nice to vary things with a different interpretation.

Playing Kenickie, we had the excellent Louis Grant, more in tone of what I would expect of a Danny. Also giving a good showing was Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as the formidable Rizzo.

The above were well supported by numerous T-Birds and Pink Ladies. But I did have one criticism here. All the male and female characters in the respective groups seemed … generic, with little distinction between them, which was a shame.

Then came Teen Angel. On the night we had TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner, Ore Oduba. This is a cameo role, but I have to say, I do love Beauty School Dropout.

Other numbers of the night to note included: There Are Worse Things I Could Do, You’re the One That I Want, Sandy and the rousing We Go Together.

The director for Grease was Nikolai Foster with musical direction from Neil MacDonald. I cannot praise enough, though, the choreography from Arlene Phillips. No more than expected from one of her experience, but what the show needed anyway.

All in all, a decent, likeable offering, but probably not one I’d see again.


Antony N Britt

I was recently privileged to witness a journey through the years, courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company. And Through the Decades was just that. A showcase of not only several eras in pop, rock and musical theatre, but also an example of how music has evolved during those times.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016

This was my first experience of the Bournville company and I was not disappointed.

From the opening rock and roll of the 1950s, I found myself captivated, tapping away and singing along (and not always silent, I may add) to the numbers performed on stage.

Good use of a three-piece band: Keyboard, drums and bass, provided all the sound needed. Combine that with great singing, dance and characterisation, you had a fabulous show before you.

Each section was introduced by a video consisting of films representing the relevant decade before launching into their opening number.

Of the songs, themselves, I’d have too long a list if I named all I enjoyed. Therefore, I’ll have to rely on the first which spring to memory.

A mix together of You’re my World and All I See is You were exceptional as was the case with the harmonies of Mr Sandman. For the 70s we had a Grease set of which Hopelessly Devoted to You, shone. Act One ended with a company number of Bohemian Rhapsody, and it shows you’re good if you pull that one off.

Into Act Two and a song from one of my favourite musicals in One Day More (Les Miserables). It was then I found myself further surprised. You see, I consider myself more a rock person. However, I was completely drawn in by fabulous performances of Total Eclipse of the Heart, She’s the One and Torn (one of my favourites of the night). Then we had Bournville’s very own Spice Girls. Now come on, I’ve said I’m into rock, and I’ve never taken any notice of the Spice Girls. But I liked these ones.

Probably, for me, the most powerful number was a combination of the Adele songs, Turning Tables and Rolling in the Deep. And that’s where I come back to what I said at the start. Whereas my eras are more late 70s to early 80s, it’s interesting to see how much music has evolved since the 1950s. Despite not being my type of music, there seems to be greater depth and complexity about more recent offerings. I guess we’re always discovering techniques that it’s inevitable a new generation will improve. And that’s a good thing. I enjoy the past, but don’t want to live it again.

Rounding off the show were two numbers from School of Rock. Great. A bit of rock. I’d not heard these songs before but having done so courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company, I went online and ordered the original cast recording CD the next day. And I’ll probably be making a trip to the West End, too.

So well done to all, especially Rachel Fox (Producer), Chris Corcoran (Musical Direction), and Kris Evans, Helen Gauntlett, Karen Lane, Chloe Turner, Sadie Turner (Choreography).

At the start of Act One, we had a preview of the companies next show, The Pajama Game. On this performance, it will be well worth going to see.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016



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