REVIEW: Grease, Pendle Hippodrome Theatre

Grease
Grease

Despite injuring his knee during the opening night performance of “Grease” at Pendle Hippopdrome on Tuesday, Simon Jackson was a true professional and made sure “the show must go on”.

Having an energetic principal role as Kenickie in this liveliest all singing, all dancing show, did not stop Simon (27) from carrying on regardless and most of the audience were probably unaware that he was suffering.

“Grease” opened with a bang rather than a whimper and the cast seemed to grow in confidence as the performance went on, providing the audience with a real all-American night out.

You felt you were there with the T Birds and Pink Ladies in their final year at Rydell High as they fooled around, chatted at the local diner and kissed at the drive-in movie, all the while struggling with the roller coaster ride that is being young and in love.

Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company have put every effort into making this version as popular as possible, with all the songs from the film included, unlike some stage versions of “Grease”.

Therefore it really had the likeability factor, making you want to jump up from your seat and do the handjive with them.

If you like energetic, feelgood factor musicals this is for you.

“Grease” really is the musical that everyone likes and one theatregoer leaving the Hippodrome on Tuesday was heard to say: “That was absolutely brilliant, I’m going straight home now to watch the film again.”

Director Howard Raw introduced something new to the Hippodrome stage, a revolving platform themed on a juke box to really get into the spirit of 50s America. And while it was innovative, it did appear to slow down the scene changes.

If I had a minor criticism it would be that the American accents are sometimes difficult to hear, particularly from some of the male characters.

That said, there is nothing to find fault with in this bubbly production. There are strong singing voices in this cast and, combined with Helen Cheung’s very entertaining and fun, full-on choreography, it is great entertainment. Lisa Manley’s musical arrangement is, as alway, very good and the costumes really take you into the heart of an American high school in the 50s. The sets – especially the “Greased Lightning” car – are spot on.

There are some stand out performances among the principals with Josh Hindle seemingly made for the role of Danny Zuko – all hormones and Brylcreme – with his dazzling dancing and great singing. Cathryn Osborne excels as the outwardly brash but inwardly vulnerable Pink Lady Rizzo and Karen Wilkinson shines in her debut with the company as leading lady Sandy. But other principals Jess McGlinchey, Jade Barrett, Emily Wilkinson, Simon Jackson, Gary Leonard, Fletcher Smith, Jack Herbert, Sophie Greenwood, James Holt, Sophie Counsell, Tony Cousins, Angela Schofield and David Smith make up a great team.

And with numbers such as “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightning”, “You’re The One That I Want” and “We Go Together” what a performance, what a night, what a show!

It continues until tomorrow and tonight is dress up night. Should be fun.