‘Grease’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by January 12, 2017

‘Grease’ is a 1978 American musical, and romantic comedy based on Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs’ 1971 musical of the same name.

This show has a young, but energetic and highly motivated amateur, cast are presented by Studio2Stage Youth Productions in conjunction with Phoenix Theatre. Although aged 11-18 years, they gave a quality performance in a broad range of dance, and advanced theatrical styles.

This two-hour show can be seen at the Phoenix Theatre Inc, in the Memorial Hall at 435 Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill. The season runs on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings until 27th January, with all the shows have curtain up at 7.30 pm. There are a couple of Sunday matinées at 2.00. As always at the Phoenix, the foyer was decorated having a glowing, realistic jukebox (Jodie Innes, Emma and Mark Foster, Michelle Shoosmith and Carrie Lewis).

A couple of key nights have sold out already, so get in quickly.

Studio2Stage have a merchandise table with fun 50’s items for sale.

Nightly raffles and programme sales profits will go to two worthy causes, Autism WA and The Lupus Foundation.

 

The main sets were the classroom and sports field of Rydell High School in 1958. There were several minor sets on the stage apron, e.g. café. The sets were quite symbolic, but the numerous, fascinating props of the era supplied by Narelle Thoms enhanced the scenes.

Alexander Coutts-Smith and Mikaela Innes’ lighting and sound design helped the show bounce along and added to the spectacle. Michelle Shoosmith operated the complex lighting design smoothly.

Bryan Shoosmith was the sound operator, retaining an ideal balance of accompaniment volume for the singers, and kept up with the numerous headsets (they all worked!! Wow).

 

         It is the end of the summer holidays, and T-bird greaser, Danny Zuko (Liam Pini) is keen to tell his pals consisting of his best friend Kenickie (Lincoln Tapping), guitar strumming Doody (Tim McClelland), the group’s sex bomb Sonny (Rudi Palmela), and Roger (Edan Frazer), all about the dream girl he met on the beach. She was beautiful Sandy Dee (Rebecca Collin), they fell in love, but Danny added a few tasteless comments into the affair and these got back to Sandy.

         Meanwhile, the Pink Ladies, who are a clique of stylish girls consisting of Rizzo (Kel Camponova), Marty (Mia Frazer) and Jan (Ruby Thoms) are sitting in the classroom, disclosing to each other their holiday affairs. As they chat, an old maid teacher, Miss Lynch (Lili Thoms) introduces them to a new girl, Sandra. Most of the Pinks ignore her, but welcoming Frenchy (Phillippa Bialas) befriends her. Before long, Sandy meets Danny, but she is horrified to find he described her as a loose woman.

        Frenchy invites Sandy to a pyjama party, but after trying a cigarette, drinking and getting her ears pierced by Frenchy, Sandy is feeling even worse. Rizzo makes fun of her virtuous nature. Kenickie buys a wreck of car, that he names ‘Greased Lightning’ to impress Sandy, but Danny borrows it and takes Sandy to a drive-in.

        Frenchy feels that school is a waste of time and decides to go to college to study makeup. However, she is visited by a teen angel (Elias Shoosmith) who advises her to return to school.

       The school dance is hosted by DJ Vince Fontaine (Elias Shoosmith) who flirts with Marty. Kenickie attempts to spite Rizzo by dating Cha-Cha (Emmalee Bialas). Although she is very pretty, poor Patty (Laura Foster) finds that along with geek Eugene (Lachlan Felstead) they are the leftovers when the dance competition is announced.

       Broken hearted, Sandy sits at home singing along with the radio singer (Amalie Meneghetti). Still in love with Danny, Sandy decides to do all she can to win him back, so with advice from Frenchy, she arrives at the school in a stunning black leather outfit. Could this bring the answer to her prayers?

 

The ensemble is an unfortunate name for the group of wonderful, remaining performers; they are Tara Butt, Charlotte Holly-Little, Eliza Lewis, Keira Butt, Rebecca Winn, Bethany Tandy and Riley Innes.

 

Normally a director has an uphill battle trying to mould a young cast into their characters, whilst praying that the whole show will come together in the end. However, this cast has been superbly trained in all the theatre skills by the Studio2Stage acting school. Thanks to director, Jodie Innes and her assistant Narelle Thoms, this whole cast were acting years above their age. Their stage presence was jaw dropping.

The delivery of the songs was done with power and perfect pitch – I didn’t notice bum note anywhere. There was some tremendous singing by the leads and featured singers, but when 13-year-old Mia Frazer sang ‘Freddy my Love’ I was blown away at the skills shown. Every singer was outstanding.

The lively orchestral music was on a licenced disc, but the musical direction of the cast was by 16-year old (yes 16!!) Lincoln Tapping; who along with choreographer Mikaela Innes, gave us numerous memorable numbers. The young stars gave us acrobatic lifts, with graceful and interesting dance routines.

With a large cast, Leanne and Emily Winn managed the stage wonderfully well, and with Ebony Howard and Bethany Tandy helping with the muscle work on stage everything flowed smoothly. The colourful and well researched costumes were excellent. The hair (loved Teen Angel) and makeup were also by Jodie and Elaine Innes.

 

I went expecting a simple musical from some youngsters and came away totally impressed. Quite a few names to remember, I hope their Stage School has a year book for future reference.