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Review: Grease is the word at the Wycombe Swan
FEW modern musicals have quite the recognition factor as Grease – it is one of those shows everyone knows and most people love.
So with the story and musical numbers so familiar, any production of the show is less about delivering any surprises than it is about bringing those routines to life as spectacularly as possible.
And Grease, showing this week at the Wycombe Swan, certainly does that.
It is a rollicking, exuberant two hour explosion of entertainment that left audiences buzzing at last night’s performance.
All the well-known roster of songs are belted out with plenty of verve –from Summer Nights, Grease is The Word, Greased Lightnin’, You’re The One That I Want and plenty more besides. And all of them light up the stage, both in terms of the fabulously vibrant set design and energetic performances.
The story, as if you need to be told, concerns a teenage romance between cool kid Danny Zuko and good girl Sandy Olsson, set in 50s America. After falling in love over the summer break, they unexpectedly find themselves in the same school at the start of term – can they rekindle their romance now they are hanging out with crowds as different as the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies?
As Danny, Danny Bayne – who won the role through the ITV show Grease is the Word – is a winning presence (although there is a bizarre hint of Yogi Bear to his take on the greaser), while Carina Gillespie makes a great Sandy.
The supporting cast, too, is full of excellent performers who bring to life the colourful roll call of characters – from the sharp-tongued Rizzo to the car-crazed Kenicki, they all make a strong impression.
This show has one extra ace up its sleeve with the crowd pleasing stunt-casting of Russell Grant as Teen Angel. Delivering a song and dance routine that clearly takes some cues from his Strictly Come Dancing performance last year, audiences lapped up his appearance. And while his abilities are certainly a bit rough around the edges compared to the rest of the cast, he made for an endearing addition to the production.
While I can’t say I am personally the biggest fan of this kind of show, it is clearly a high-spirited piece of theatre entertainment, and the audience enjoyed every moment.
And even I had to admit, it was impossible not to be won over by the infectious enthusiasm of the cast and the exuberant performances and spectacle. The show flew by, with one hit number after another, and its energy levels are permanently set on high.
So as a piece of escapist, feel-good theatre that can’t fail to brighten up the onset of Autumn, Grease is pretty hard to beat.
Grease is showing this week at the Swan (Oct 23 – 27), at 7.30pm Tuesday to Thursday, 5.30pm and 8pm on Friday, 5pm and 8.30pm on Saturday.
For tickets go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk