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Review: GREASE: THE MUSICAL, The Dominion Theatre

Summer Nights in the West End are getting a lot brighter thanks to this production.

Grease The Musical

Grease The MusicalFeaturing karaoke favourites, "You're the One That I Want", "Summer Nights", and "Hopelessly Devoted To You", Grease remains one of the world's most popular musicals. While the original stage version didn't quite reach the heights of the 1978 film, it did cement itself in pop-culture history.

As such, it's hardly surprising that a Grease revival has found its way back to our stages, especially at a time when producers are trying harder than ever to fill auditoriums again. While the source material risks feeling a little dated (do we really need another girl-changes-for-boy story?), Nikolai Foster's production is gritty and nuanced. It also features a Sandy that, while very much still the girl-next-door, is willing to stand up for herself.

By now, you're probably already well aware of the musical's plot. When Sandy Dubrowski (Olivia Moore) skips over to the Bleachers at Rydell High for her first day at school, she joins the Pink Ladies. She tells them all about her romantic summer at the nearby beach. Little does she know that her lover, Danny Zuko (Dan Partridge), is also a student at the school, a member of the Burger Palace Boys (renamed the T-birds for the movie). Only he isn't anywhere near as sweet or charming when they reunite. What follows is an all-singing, all-dancing foray into high school romance, friendships, and all of the drama that comes along with becoming an 'adult'.

Missing from the 1978 film, but present in this production, is a grittier take on being a teenager in 1950s Chicago. The Burger Palace Boys, in particular, take on a sharper edge, whose proclivity for violence almost entirely overshadows their boyish charm. In fact, you almost expect them to start clicking their fingers and whistle along to the West Side Story soundtrack.

One of the greatest merits of this production is that it welcomes a new generation of talent into the West End - with many cast members making their professional or West End debuts this summer. And, if last night's performance was anything to go by, we will be seeing them all on stage for years to come. While the entire cast is phenomenal, Noah Harrison and Mary Moore, as Roger and Jan respectively, give stellar performances, especially during their Act One duet "Mooning". Noah is quietly charismatic, catching your eye throughout the production, while Mary brings in the most laughs of the evening through her innocent, giggling portrayal of Jan.

The central couple is also fantastic - Partridge effortlessly embodies the boyish charm that became synonymous with Danny Zuko, while Moore raises the roof with her performance of "Hopelessly Devoted To You". Jocasta Almgill is passionate and punchy as Rizzo, paired nicely with a more brooding, harsher Kenickie than audiences are used to seeing from Paul French. Peter Andre makes his West End debut as Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel, but while enthusiastic, he is a little drowned out by the rest of the talent on stage.

Set design from Colin Richmond evokes a High School gym, complete with bleachers and climbing frames, and serves as the perfect backdrop for the evening's raucous dance numbers from Arlene Phillips. Phillips' spin on the choreography for this production is sure to win awards further down the line: it's energetic and full of life - with "Greased Lightning" being a particular standout.

In short, Grease The Musical is everything that you look for in a lighthearted night at the theatre: music that you want to sing and dance along to, strong performances, and a lot of sparkle.

Grease at The Dominion Theatre until 29 October.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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