I grew up watching Grease and I loved both the original and part II (remember there was a second Grease??). I remember being with my two cousins of the same age, sitting in front of the television, in awe of the singing, dancing and watching the story of Danny and Sandy unfold before our eyes. We were about primary school age I think. Strangely, we all wanted to set up our own “Pink Ladies”. One of my cousin’s friends even bragged that she could get a jacket each for us. She was just bragging of course, but that didn’t mean she didn’t get our hopes up! This was one of those iconic movies that you watch over and over again and never seem to get tired of. A film that you can sing to all the words of the songs (well, most of them) and bop your head to whenever you hear it being played. So, it was no surprise that I immediately said yes to an invitation to their premier on Thursday. The idea of watching a stage version of this iconic film really got my interest piqued.
Playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, I dragged along Mr. C to the premiere of Grease The Musical. To say that I was excited was such an understatement. And maybe that was the problem. I was over-excited and so expected a lot more out of this theatrical version of Grease.
Rob Mills as Danny & Gretel Scarlett as Sandy (photo by Jeff Busby)
Danny was played by Rob Mills, who was excellent in this role by the way. Sandy was played by Gretel Scarlett, who was playing in her very first starring role and while she was pretty good, I think it did show in her performance. Or maybe it was the first night? Maybe it was the case of “first time in leading role” jitters?
Clockwise from left to right: Todd McKenney as Teen Angel, Burt Newton as Vince Fontaine & Stephen Mahy as Kenickie (photos by Jeff Busby)
The rest of the cast were pretty good too, with Burt Newton taking on the role of Vince Fontaine, Todd McKenney as the “Teen Angel” who was singing one of my favourite songs from the show – “Beauty School Drop Out”. I dare say that I think Todd stole the show! He was hilarious and looked comfortable playing the part.
The Pink Ladies at their slumber party (photo by Jeff Busby)
The sets were alright I guess, compared to the other musicals I’ve been too. But I have to remember that this is Grease, so no elaborate sets needed, except for when it counted. And while I do realise that just like adapting a book to a film, there will be some differences to the script, I thought leaving out some of the more essential parts of the story – like how determined Danny was to be a jock to impress Sandy – left the story a bit one-sided. It showed too much of how Sandy wanted to fit in and not a two-way effort like the film.
Greased Lightning (photo by Jeff Busby)
While the whole performance was entertaining – it did get me bopping to the different songs I had grown up watching and singing to – with the exception of Rob Mills, Todd McKenney, Burt Newton and Val Lehman, I thought everyone else’s performance seemed a bit forced. In other words, they did look like they were acting. I wasn’t pulled into the story at all.
But, if you’ve never seen a live performance of Grease and have been a long time fan of the film, I would suggest going to experience the differences between the two and judge for yourself. A live performance is certainly different from watching it on the screen, and be sure to get seats that are on the lower floors or closer to the front if you’re at the top section, to get right into the action.
Where: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
When: From December 6th 2014
Price: $60.90 – $149.90 (purchase here)
*I was given complimentary tickets to the premier of Grease The Musical. All comments are my own