Carpe Diem Emmie

A Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel Blogger focusing on the Midlands and beyond.

Hi I'm Emmie!

I'm a 28 year old Lifestyle, Theatre + Travel Blogger showcasing the best of the Midlands and Beyond. You’ll find me talking about theatre companies, reviewing shows, showcasing the best of food in the Midlands + discussing books, mental health + other things I enjoy too.

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REVIEW | Grease, UK Tour


Grease
Curve Theatre, Leicester
★★

Grease is the definition of a feel-good, summer musical and an absolute classic for audiences around the world. For years people have been fascinated by the story of a summer love that transports itself unexpectedly into everyday life. We mostly know it for the 1978 hit musical film that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and it has become one of the most popular musicals in theatre history, it's also one of the highest-grossing cinema musicals of all time. But it was also one of Broadway's longest-running shows in its history. 

The initial inspiration plays homage to the 1950s; an era for greasy hair, greasy engines and greasy food but also to the thrilling rock 'n' roll music scene. It heavily focuses on an American teenager and how they look, their attitude and morals heavily influenced teenagers overseas too. 

This musical not only brings together a memorable music score, with hits such as Summer Nights and There Are Worse Things I Could Do but the lyrics also provide us with an insight into post-war American history, touching on themes like the sexual revolution, the promise of youth and the rebelling against tradition. 


The latest UK tour production was in fact made at the Curve Theatre back in 2015 and how it returns. I loved the performance when I reviewed it back in 2016 (read that here) and this time around it definitely delivered some of that pizzazz and electrifying energy I loved about it before - but there was definitely a *few* things that were missing for me, personally.

This production returns to the original, early 70s script and the plot is clearly recognisable if you've seen the film before. We follow good girl Sandy Dumbrowski played by Martha Kirby who was instantly recognisable as the leading lady, immersing herself in an instant in a role that is so noticeable. Sandy has spent her summer in the arms of Danny Zuko (Dan Partridge) before going separate ways to begin their senior year at high school. September, arrive and little does Danny know that his summer romance is set to catch him up when he sees that Sandy has begun her senior year in the same school. With the help of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies, the couple is reunited in time for a good knees-up finale (including a megamix you do not want to miss!)

Grease is such an iconic production with a lot of punch to give in its delivery. It needs a high-quality production that stands above anything we've seen before; after all the audience know all of the songs, the storyline and the slapstick jokes. There's a consistent level of energy and it felt fresh in comparison to the previous performance and I loved that! Of course, this production had the Curve magic from director Nikolai Foster that keeps with the reputation of other Made at Curve shows. 

Arlene Phillips delivers athletic and energetic choreography that for sure has the essence of the iconic dance styles of the 1950's. The Hand Jive and We Go Together were exceptional favourites of mine, visually stunning and sharp right to the fingertips. I was disappointed in Grease Lightning in comparison with the 2015 production, I felt there was so much more that could be discovered in the movement vocabulary for this number. 


I thought the strongest performances came from the supporting roles, especially Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as the tough, sarcastic and strong characteristics as Rizzo. McCaulsky has excellent vocals and a real embodiment as this character that is different from what I've seen before especially when it comes to portraying the vulnerability of Rizzo's character. She does an excellent job in doing this, especially when it comes to her solo performance There Are Worse Things I Could Do. 


It was great to see that Natalie Wood returned for this tour as the big-hearted and loving Jan, she was naturally funny and comfortable within her role.

As the two leads, Martha Kirby and Dan Partridge were given characters which are so pivotal to the storyline of Grease however I thought that there was something different about them that I couldn't put my finger on. I didn't particularly enjoy how Danny's character was portrayed, although I understand this could have been the direction that they wanted to go with for this production. There is definite natural chemistry between Kirby and Partridge which works so well in this performance and their vocal ability was excellent too. 
You can't finish off this production without mentioning the production design, it was gorgeous and completely outshone anything I had seen before at the Curve. The Curve definitely knows how to recreate a musical in their own unique way, and the height and width of the main stage was used so well in this production. Colin Richmond's set blends the 1950s aesthetic and versatility that suited the fast pace of the play so well. The use of the lighting design from Guy Hoare showed an awesome job of grabbing the audience's focus in a theatre space that is so vast and full of activity.


With the mega-mix finale at the end which will have you up and dancing on your feet you would be foolish not to head over to see UK tour of Grease in 2019. 
Don't miss the UK tour of Grease during its 2019 tour. You can find out more information by visiting their website here


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