After all these years, judging from the buzzing, dancing-in-your-seat atmosphere of the auditorium, Grease certainly is still the one that we want. The nation’s favourite musical has hit the stage of The New Theatre, with Orbit Theatre Company bringing us all the classic hits it’s famous for- the ones that we all undeniably know the lyrics and all the moves to.
Opening the show, the infamous lovebirds Danny and Sandy, played by Lloyd Macey and Rhian Peak, gave us a taster instalment of their incredible voices as they sang the timeless song ‘Sandy’, made all the more timeless by simple spotlights. But from timeless to time travel; as the song comes to an end and the curtains rise, we were bought into the 1950’s Rydell High School.
Instantly, colour, energy and plenty of enthusiasm fills the stage, and there’s no denying that, commendably, none of these left the stage for the entire show. Hidden behind the array of Rydell High characters on stage, the Orbit theatre band play faultlessly and are nothing far off West End standard.
With great orchestral accompaniment, follows even more so incredible vocals. Standout performances from Doody, played by James Rockey, and Rizzo, played by Helena-May Harrison, bought the entire show to another level, leaving me in awe of their talent.
Oozing sass and bubbling with charisma, the Pink Ladies are the counterpart of hunky, macho, yet rather goofy T-Birds. Each Pink Lady and each T-Bird shine with their distinguishable character traits, in particular Frenchy, played by Sarah Green, wins the audiences heart over with her ditsy-ness. But it must be said that each of the characters were of equal, (high), standard which, especially for such a renowned show like Grease, is not a common occurrence.
There weren’t just sparks from the Grease Lightning wheels tonight however, sparks between all the characters, including the exceptional ensemble, were evident throughout. The rapport between an, played by Laura Phillips, and Roger, played by Matthew Preece, in their duet ‘Mooning’ (yes mooning, as in… showing your bottom to the world) bought laughter throughout the theatre. Even the minor characters, Eugene and Patty, played by Daniel Ivor Jones and Giaccolina Crothers, are the pinnacle of nerdy, emphasied by their over-enthusiastic dancing at the high school dance.
This leads me to commend the use of the disco ball in this production, a mighty impressive disco ball I must add. The second act began and an explosion of sequins and lights screamed ‘American high school dance’. And then Vince Fontain, played by Tom Reynolds, was as flashy as the gold sequin suit he was wearing.
Reynolds reappeared as Teen Angel during ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ which saw the Burger Palace, a truly retro 1950’s style diner, transform into a beauty parlour.
I cannot finish without properly commending the talent of the two leads who ‘Go Together’, Danny and Sandy. Delivering everything that the two young sweethearts are renowned for – and more – Elliot and Peake make this show what it was, a hand-jiving, grease lightning, sing-along success.
Reviewed by Molly Wyatt
For more information about Grease, contact http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/what’s-on/orbit-theatre-grease/, Grease finishes on 7th November 2015.