Grease – Review – Sheffield Lyceum
By Helen Johnston, October 2021
Can it really be 43 years since John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John took the film world by storm with the high school musical Grease? That makes me feel old.
I was one of the little kids queuing outside the cinema to see it, long before the days of multi-screen complexes.
This fun and energetic stage production proves it has stood the test of time, with an audience of all ages on their feet at the end to show their appreciation.
From the young girl sitting next to me with her mum, to older couples and groups of women in Pink Ladies jackets, everyone knew the songs by heart. Grease has gathered cult status and it’s easy to see why.
The 1950s-set story is a familiar one of course. Sandy (Ellie Kingdon) is the demure newcomer to Rydell High, all sensible cardigans and long skirts, who somehow gets taken under the wing of girl-about-town Rizzo (Tendai Rinomhota) and her gang of Pink Ladies.
“Lots of laughs”
Sandy is shocked to discover that the nice boy Danny (Dan Partridge) who she spent the summer with at the beach has a different reputation at school. He’s one of the lads, more interested in combing his quiff and straightening his leather jacket than admitting he’s in love with her.
Cue bumpy relationship, teenage angst, lots of laughs, and a happy ending. Along the way we get to know Beauty School Drop-out Frenchie (Marianna Neofitou) and wise-cracking Kenickie (Elliot Gooch), along with the rest of the girls and guys.
There are some new songs that weren’t in the film which sounded good but we’d all come to hear to the favourites – ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, ‘Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee’, ‘Summer Nights’. You know them all.
‘Greased Lightning’ was a crowd-pleaser, a battered yellow car taking centre stage and lighting up as the cast danced and sang around it.
The show’s continuity was sometimes slightly disjointed, at one point going from Danny and Sandy falling out, to Danny out looking for his gang of friends, then back cosying up with Sandy at the drive-in movie.
However, this scene was executed well, with a see-through screen at the front of the stage enabling the audience to see the horror film the two of them were watching.
The show ended with a mega-mix of all the songs, the cast clearly enjoying themselves as much as the clapping, singing-along audience. At one point Dan Ridge encouraging the audience with “come on Sheffield”. This is what live entertainment is all about, a shared and uplifting experience.
Grease, you’re still the much-loved one that we want.
images: Sean Ebsworth-Barnes