Is there anyone on earth who hasn’t seen Grease or can at least sing You’re The One That I Want? Just hearing the opening theme tune sends shivers down my spine. I know the following comment will age me, but I saw the film in the cinema when it first came out. There was a queue round the block of Bletchley cinema (before there was even a city centre in Milton Keynes) and it was the first film I ever saw in the cinema twice. Grease is just as popular today and still delights audiences with its classic songs including Summer Nights, Greased Lightning and You’re The One That I Want. Grease is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre this week and you know it’s the one that you want!
Grease is a teen love story set in a high school during the 1950’s. Sandy is new to the school but makes friends with the pink ladies. She already knows Danny from their summer romance but he is trying to be cool in front of his mates. It’s a classic boy meets girl tale.
The indelible Peter Andre plays the teen angel. He would have made a good Danny when he was younger, and he still exudes that cool and sexy vibe that works well for the teen angel character. But it doesn’t stop there. To get your Peter Andre fix, he is playing two roles as he is also Vince Fontaine. And boy did the audience want their Peter fix. Every time he came on stage there were huge cheers. My only criticism is that Peter deserved bigger wings! Peter says "I am so thrilled to be returning to Grease this year. Grease is joyous and will truly allow you to escape to a different time, with show-stopping dance routines and some of the most iconic songs of all time. It's a show about solidarity and it celebrates friendship, which is even more important now with how the last 12 months have been. As the song goes, We Go Together!"
Dan Partridge reprises the role of Danny, having played the role on the UK and Ireland tour in 2019. Dan is the perfect Danny; he even has the same name! Dan is handsome, cool and girls would fancy him and boys would want to hang out with him. Can you ask for more? Well, he can sing too and his energy is fantastic. Georgia Louise is Sandy and she gives Sandy that innocent air without being too much of an airhead. She has what I would describe a ‘musical theatre’ voice which at times feels too good for Sandy. I can see her easily fitting into Evita or Les Mis.
Don’t expect a carbon copy of the film. This is a very different Grease. It feels fresh and stripped back to the bare bones and then given a sprinkle of the magic of musical theatre. You still have all the well-known characters and the story is the same and of course the well-known songs feature, but there are changes. Sandra Dee isn’t sung in the bedroom, instead there’s a song about a boy named Freddie. Some changes do leave an air of disappointment such as You’re The One That I Want feeling very country and there are no T-Byrds but instead they are the Burger Palace Boys, which doesn’t have the same ring and we never really know why that is the case. Also we never get to see the final Greased Lightning car in all its glory. But if you can get past the changes, you are in for a treat. I loved Mooning by Roger (Josh Barnett) and Jan (Maeve Byrne) who embody the characters and can sing well. Those magic changes in an acoustic style led by Doody (Alex Christian) is also excellent, but my outstanding number of the evening award goes to Rizzo played by Tendai Rinomhota singing There Are Worst Things I Could Do. She absolutely blew it out the water. A truly fabulous moment. We Go Together seems to be the biggest show stopper, sung at the end of both acts. It boasts amazing choreography as well as all the gang all getting a chance to sing together
A fabulous show with a very talented cast that helps you forget the last 18 months and leaves you humming as you leave the theatre. Grease is the word at Milton Keynes Theatre until 28 August 2021. Tickets here