Review: GREASE, Kings Theatre Glasgow

An edgier, sexier, grittier revival of the classic musical

By: Jun. 19, 2024
Review: GREASE, Kings Theatre Glasgow
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Review: GREASE, Kings Theatre Glasgow Gear up for some nostalgic summer nights... Grease has arrived in Glasgow. Nikolai Foster and Leicester's Curve bring us an edgier, sexier, grittier revival of the classic 1971 musical following Sandy and Danny's tumultuous relationship after a summer of love.

Adopting Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's original stage version, the production deviates from the famous movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Here we see subversive, sex-driven working-class teenagers in industrial Chicago instead of beachy California. Sandy Olsson is now Sandy Dumbrowski (reflecting the '50s influx of Polish immigrants), the infamous T-birds are the Burger Palace Boys. There is an undertone of gang warfare as the rebellious group often push against authority getting in trouble with the police - reminiscent of West Side Story.

There will be new songs you don't recognise, and the songs you do recognise might happen at different times. Resembling a quirky high-school gymnasium, Colin Richmond's set is vibrant yet cleverly minimalistic. There is a circular video wall embedded upstage which cleverly transforms into Vince Fontaine's funky DJ booth overlooking the narrative action. The lighting is phenomenal, even incorporating pyrotechnics.

The energy is high and the music is loud (sometimes overpoweringly loud). American accents aren't always maintained and a few vocals are underwhelming, but the dancing does not disappoint. Stand-out numbers include "Grease Lightning"'s electrifying choreography led by charismatic frontman Kenickie (George Michaelides) and "Beauty School Dropout" performed superbly by Joe Gash, who double-roles as the smooth Vince Fontaine. Rebecca Stenhouse's Rizzo steals the show, oozing mean-girl sass coupled with soft vulnerablility. Her renditions of "There are Worse Things I Could Do" and Sandra Dee showcase her powerhouse vocals.

Ironically, the weak link of this classic love story is.... the love story itself. Ben Middleton's Danny Zuko and India Chadwick's Sandy Dumbrowski lack chemistry, and don't really feature much in the story. I found Jan (Emerald B) and Roger (Lewis Gray)'s subplot romance more engaging than the leads. There is an unexpected plotline of Danny dating perky cheerleader Patty Simcox (Phoebe Roberts) then leaving her hanging, which makes him unlikeable. Sandy's iconic leather reveal is downplayed suggesting a new interpretation of the scene, nevertheless the overall story still feels dated... misogynistic teen males treat women badly, then get a free pass at the end.  

The sold-out performances and dancing audience members are a clear indicator that there is a lot to gain from this production. It's a fun night out, but I'm not hopelessly devoted.

Grease is at the Kings' Theatre Glasgow until 22 June

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner


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