Please note this post contains affiliate links.
BrumHour was invited to see Grease by Birmingham Hippodrome.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note this production contains scenes of smoking, misogyny and in some performances, Peter Andre.
Grease at Birmingham Hippodrome
Directed by Nikolai Foster, book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Grease the Musical is mid-way through a UK and Ireland 2019 Tour bringing its slice of late 1950s nostalgia in this fantastic fun-filled production to the huge stage of Birmingham Hippodrome.
If you do need to know the plot (because you are going to see this as a plus one) then here it is:
After a romantic (or filthy, depending on who you believe) summer, Danny (Dan Partridge) and Sandy (Martha Kirby) think they have gone their separate ways only for Sandy to discover she has transferred for senior year of high school to Rydell High where Danny already attends. Danny is in a gang/group called the Burger Palace Boys with Kenickie (Louis Gaunt), Doody (Jordan Abey), Roger (Ryan Anderson) and Sonny (Damian Buhagiar). Sandy starts to hang around with the girl’s group, The Pink Ladies, Rizzo (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky), Frenchy (Eloise Davies), Jan (Natalie Woods) and Marty (Tara Sweeting). Sandy soon discovers that fitting in is going to be more of a challenge than she thought.
This is an ensemble show, based on the 1971 musical which inspired the massive 1978 film. Whilst most of the plot features remain the same some things have been added and some removed over the years.
BrumHour’s Julie Wallis has seen productions of Grease twice but it was my first time seeing Grease on stage.
I had a great time and enjoyed this production a lot. The leads all get their chances to shine with the extra songs shared more evenly than the film. Unlike lots of huge musicals, this is a mixture of drama and comedy which come from both dialogue and lyrics. I couldn’t help feeling that the audience wanted just more music all the time.
The audience loved this production, singing their way through numbers and cheering wildly. There are lots of familiar dreamy musical numbers from the film, You’re the one that I want, Grease is the Word, Beauty School Dropout (With Peter Andre at most performances and Ore Oduba at others as Teen Angel.) Plus several songs that don’t feature in the film like Freddy, My Love, Those Magic Changes and Tattoo Song.
I adored Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky version of There Are Worse Things I Could Do and of course Summer Nights!
Every inch of the stage is used with a DJ booth sat high against the rear wall, gym climbing frames, there’s also film projection effectively used at different moments, particularly at the start.
It’s easy to see the impact that Grease has had on musicals, pushing them further into the mainstream than ever before. Rocky Horror, High School Musical, Glee, Back to the Future, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Beverly Hills 90210, many more use the types of characters seen here, but this casually concentrates on the first proper age of the teenager without making social comments on it. The plot does the talking here, once in this world we are thrown back into the lives of the characters touching on their final year at school.
There are moments of currently influences too such as the acoustic Stomp-style percussion of We Go Together, and the vague idea that only one of them has a car to get around in. Everyone of these kids has access to a car.
Much as I teased at the start, Peter Andre’s only plot scene is in Beauty School Dropout and it was amazing to see the audiences reaction to this and he’s clearly having the time of his life! (Wrong musical!)
Grease is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 24th August. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/grease-the-musical
Tour Dates continue at:
King’s Theatre, Glasgow 27th to 31st August: Book tickets with BrumHour’s affiliate link >> HERE <<.
Curve Theatre, Leicester, 3rd to 14th September: curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/grease-the-musical-2019
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin 17th to 28th September: bordgaisenergytheatre.ie/index.php/artist/grease1
New Theatre, Oxford, 1st to 5th October: Book tickets with BrumHour’s affiliate link >> HERE <<.
Churchill Theatre, Bromley, 8th to 12th October: churchilltheatre.co.uk/Online/tickets-grease-bromley-2019
Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 15th to 19th October: wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/grease/
This isn’t a sponsored post.
When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre,
Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and claiming to be at the gym. And tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.