Featuring the local theatre scene is now a regular fixture on the Weekend Tourist and a couple of weeks ago we joined the rest of Oxford’s media scene for the press night at ‘Grease’.
As soon as the band strikes up, I quickly remembered why I love Grease. It has really great tunes. Mind you as a child you certainly don’t pick up on the darker undertones of the story – Sandy changes her identity and values to fit in with the crowd, what kind of message is that? Anyway, that aside, it’s been years since my Mum and I saw a professional production of Grease and this certainly didn’t disappoint.
Casting for the tour includes Tom Parker, from The Wanted, who makes his musical theatre debut playing Danny Zuko. Unlike Travolta, Tom’s Zuko is less self-assured; more go-with-the-flow; one of gang; Kenickie’s right hand man. Danielle Hope, who won the BBC Show ‘Over the Rainbow’, plays Sandy, and with a beautiful tone, every note during ‘Summer Nights’ was crystal clear.
Louisa Lytton, of Strictly and Eastenders fame, plays Rizzo, my favourite character. Louisa certainly came into her own for Rizzo’s big number, ‘There are worse things’, which was an edgy climax as Rizzo finds out she might be pregnant. Of course, Darren Day brought true entertainer experience and charm to play Teen Angel, seventeen years after he played Danny in the West End.
Just like when we went to see Evita, it was the supporting cast members who really stood out. Tom Senior as Kenickie had all the necessary swagger for ‘Greased Lightnin’ and the ‘ol’ hunk of junk’ quickly lights up and morphs into the T-Bird’s ‘pussy wagon‘. The rest of the T-Birds, Oliver Jacobson as Roger and Ryan Heenan as Doody had great solo numbers which really captured the era. Who’s not going to love the semi-naked, towel-clad, synchronise dancers in the boys’ showers during ‘Those Magic Changes!’