Grease was voted “the No. 1 Greatest Musical of All Time” by Channel 4 viewers in 2003. It certainly isn’t that. But it does have something, if the singing and dancing are done right. They sure are in this production.
The USA enjoyed unparalleled prosperity after the Second World War. The railways were run down, highways criss-crossed America, and automobiles came within the reach of almost everyone, even teenagers. Yes, teenagers – a new subspecies of homo sapiens emerging from parental control, with money to spend and out for a good time. They had their own music and their own clothes. Rock and roll, jeans and leather jackets for the boys, party skirts and bobby socks for girls with their ponytails – and greased back hair for the boys. That was the 1950s, and Grease celebrates that era.
Some in the audience last night were old enough (just about) to remember that era, for others it would be ancient history. But this is a show for everyone who enjoys good loud rock music. The band were brilliant, and really drove the show along. The singing was excellent, with Danielle Hope’s soprano notes hitting the roof. Best of all was the amazing choreography. Everyone in the cast had to be an athlete as well as a singer.
Plot and characterisation? Forget about them. The story is silly, and we don’t care much about the characters, though one warms to Louisa Lytton as the feisty and badly-behaved Rizzo, while Darren Day as the radio DJ is just as annoying as Tony Blackburn. It is the music and the movement that we go for, and they are great.
The show has only a short run at this venue, closing on Saturday, so you will have to be quick to catch it. Plenty of people were catching it last night. The New Wimbledon Theatre (not that new – it was built in 1910, but refurbished in the 1960s) is the eighth largest in London, but it was pretty full. And to judge by the singing along and hand clapping, the audience were loving it!