Grease The Musical
Dominion Theatre, London, until October 29
There’s a little sign up saying “Make Rydell great again” in a few scenes in Grease The Musical and that’s probably the closest Nikolai Foster’s production
comes to cracking a relatively clever and topical joke.
Grease was originally, of course, a hit film starring John Travolta that came out in 1978, the year after he had starred in Saturday Night Fever and, coincidentally, a stage adaptation of that is also now also playing in the capital. For my money, Bill Kenwright’s rival production – with breathtaking choreography by Bill Deamer – is more fun simply because it’s a lot wittier and more focused.
This one, by contrast, has in Dan Partridge and Olivia Moore – playing Danny and Sandy, the star-cross’d lovers of Rydell High – inferior versions of Travolta and Olivia Newton-John who do not make nearly enough of an impression to carry the show.
The big numbers are all-too-familiar – Grease is the Word, Summer Nights,
You’re the One That I Want etc – but they are listlessly performed and all the emphasis is on Peter Andre’s cameo turn as Vince Fontaine. Andre’s many fans went wild every time he put in an appearance on the first night, and the overall effect was to throw the show so much off balance that it seemed all but incomprehensible.
I should also point out that Andre’s name is asterisked in the programme and, in small print at the bottom, it reads “at certain performances”, so there is not even a guarantee you will get him in the show you’ve paid good money for. All in all, Rydell has most definitely not been made great again.