The cast of Grease tonight weathered a storm of latecomers not quite as turbulent as the downpour outside, but close to. These tardy folk clamoured around with their phone lights and quibbled over seating, dropping coins, fiddling around with brollies, producing a show of their own up the back. One latecomer tried to persuade me out of my seat. (The nerve!) He asked me if I’d sat in the right spot when naturally I’d filled his closer to the middle about twenty minutes ago.
Well, there I had it. A great show with a great view. Grease sold out before opening night. Organisers stretched the cash, allowing for a motley spread of polka-dot silver-strapped 60s ensembles that would put Miranda Priestly in her grave. Not only that, a life-sized Grease movie-imitative prop car replaced my prediction of some sort of wretched jumble of a cardboard thing, much to everyone’s delight.
The supporting roles stole the show. Vince Fontaine, the creepy middle-aged radio star, provided wonderfully amusing moments and a perfect commitment to character. The T-Birds were not thoroughly successful as a whole but were entertaining individually. Lines needed to be thrown up the back, with less delay between those cheeky calls for the audience to keep up with the tone of the scene. I wanted to hear that locker-room filth tear back and forth rather than lines left hanging. The T-Birds’ interaction with their ‘steadies’, however, was really something else. These awkward, don’t-lose-your-cool flirtations between the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds were the highlight of the show, at least for me! Ultimately I couldn’t take my eyes off Phoebe Clark as Marty, who I feel (not to sound like some drab, drab content in a weekly performing-arts school newsletter) is one to watch! And while we’re using clichés, I’m now going to be a London musical theatre academy advertisement and bring up the term triple threat for expert dancer-actor-singer Tom Crotty as Kenickie, who flared up in Greased Lightning. Whoops and yells flew as Crotty jived around the prop car, providing a spectacular few moments of foot-tapping and head-bobbing. Much as a Crotty really delivered this scene, I wanted to see the T-Birds get a bit wilder behind him. ‘Patty Simcox’ was victoriously annoying and terribly funny, Rizzo and Sandy’s mutual dislike was tense and well maintained and star Danny Zuko must be congratulated for good comic delivery, not to mention a fabulous voice.
Opening night nerves couldn’t hold you all back, obviously. Well done MUSE. Well-directed, cleverly staged and thoughtfully cast. I would say don’t miss it, but there are no tickets left.