Stage and Theatre
REVIEW: Grease - book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.
Musical director Michael Nicholas Williams, choreographer Leigh Evans for Wellington Musical Theatre.
Opera House, Wellington until July 26
That Grease is still the word, even after 40 years, is testament to the durability of this all-time favourite musical.
And while some may be somewhat cynical about yet another Grease - this is
Wellington Musical Theatre's third production - fortunately there is enough originality and innovation in this production to make it very watchable.
The dialogue is still a little cheesy and the characterisation somewhat superficial, but director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford and her creative production team have pulled out all the stops to focus fairly and squarely on the performers and the energy of the musical numbers.
Simple is the word with this Grease, the large bare stage of the Opera House adorned with minimal sets and props, yet enough to anchor the time and place firmly in late 1950s America.
And as the large cast flow on and off from one musical number after another with pace, flair and loads of confidence, the stage at no time ever looks bare or empty.
Love and all its machinations is the theme as a group of teenagers return to Rydell High School after their summer vacation. The Burger Palace Boys, led by Danny Zuko (Waylon Edwards), hang out on one side of the playground while the Pink
Ladies and their new recruit Sandy D (Awhimai Fraser) hang out on the other.And so, as the well-known story plays out between Danny and Sandy, all those well-loved tunes like Grease ''is the word'', Greased Lightnin' and Born to Hand Jive reverberate around the stage until Sandy's transformation culminating in You're The One That I Want which brings everyone together.
The staging is simple yet highly effective, with many clever and imaginative touches that make the show alive and fresh.
There is a good balance between vocals and band, the diction through the songs is, for the most part, clear and audible, not always achievable in this type of show.
And the two leads complement each other well with Edwards a cool, cocky Danny with a heart, making a good foil to Fraser's wholesome, naive Sandy, each leading a rousing finale to make this a fitting tribute to one of musical theatre's most enduring musicals.
- The Dominion Post