Grease was the word for students
Grease was the word as Longridge Towers' senior school took to The Maltings' stage with the 1950s' teen classic.
The school was fortunate to licence the show as it is currently reserved for professional performance. However, there was a short hiatus in the professional tour, which coincided with Longridge’s performance dates. The school also licensed the legendary movie songs to perform to two sell-out audiences.
The story line comprises the adventures of the teens at Rydell High School as they prepare for their end of year prom, following the lives and loves of the self-styled ‘T-Birds’ and ‘Pink Ladies’.
Romantic leads were played by Martine Vrieling van Tuijl as Sandy, and Rory Blyth as Danny. Martine’s experience in principal roles was evident in her accomplished performance, especially the convincing transformation from ever-so-sweet Sandra Dee to the worldly wise ‘Big D’. The audience was visibly moved by her soulful rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You, and the smouldering You’re the One that I Want in duet with Danny Zuko.
Rory was a convincing heartthrob, and it was hard to believe this was his first time on the stage.
There were strong performances from all of the leads.
Callum O’Reilly was outstanding as T-Bird leader Kenickie, receiving a fantastic reaction to his energetic, edgy rendition of Greased Lightning. James Shaw schmoozed his way around the ladies as Sonny. Alexander Williams had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as nice-but-dim Doody, excelling with Those Magic Changes. Bob Jeffrey brought tears to eyes as lovestruck mooner Roger, with his rendition of love song Mooning.
The Pink Ladies were a knockout from the start.
Georgina Faed was exceptionally strong as world-weary leader Rizzo, with Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee and There are Worse Things I Could Do. Martha Raine wowed as sweetheart Marty, and Siobhan Bankier played beauty student Frenchy with just the right balance of glamour and sensitivity. Newcomer Jane Anderson impressed as goofy Jan, playing with confidence and tenderness opposite her love interest Roger.
Phoebe Weddle was strong as Patty Simcox, bouncing onto the stage with irritating energy and smarm.
Smaller cameos, too, were notable, not least Kirstyn Duff as Cha-Cha-DiGregorio, and James Bennet as the Teen Angel. James Williams showed perfect comic timing as nerdy Eugene, and Emily Gettins hit the right note as stern but compassionate Miss Lynch. Mention must also go to Freja Raiker who exuded rock ‘n’ roll energy as Johnny Casino, and Charlie Renner as sleazy DJ Vince Fontaine.
Impeccably choreographed dance numbers, fantastic music and sound lighting and backstage work was complemented by a stunning set and costumes.
Grease will be a hard act to follow.