by Mark Jones and Guy Unsworth based on the film Grease 2.

Duchess Theatre 3-5 Catherine Street WC2B 5LA To 19 April 2014.
Fri, Sat 8pm Mat Sat 5pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS 0864 482 9672.
Review: William Russell 16 April.

The coolest show in town..
Exhausting, noisy, vibrant, a lot better than the 1982 movie Grease 2, which was a flop, and renamed Cool Rider after its best song, this stage version is proof there is life after death.

The failure of the sequel to 1978’s Grease was one of those things. Somehow the magic of Rydell High failed to rematerialise. Director Guy Unsworth has, however, performed the trick which made the flop a hit. Scrap the sets, have a first-rate band on stage and let the songs carry the show in concert.

There was nothing wrong with the songs in Grease 2 and here they get belted-out with aplomb by the entire cast. The school now has only two teachers, the headmaster and the libidinous drama teacher who runs the talent contest, and the plot has gone for a Burton.

It is two years on and there are new kids in the playground. Stephanie (the delectable Ashleigh Gray) has ditched her boyfriend, the muscle-bound king of biker cool, Johnny (Stewart Clarke), who is not best pleased. Michael (Aaron Sidewell), the new boy, a brainiac and English would you believe, falls for her but is rebuffed.

Then along comes a cool guy in black leather and shades riding an even cooler bike and – well, who cares? The audience know all the lines and when the cast stumble provide them to general glee. Gray is terrific, especially when straddling a step-ladder and warbling. Sidewell really doesn’t quite fill those leathers, which is what a hunk should do – his striptease is tepid and if you are going to take your shirt off you need something to show – but he sings nicely and the rest of the cast play-up splendidly.

Mark Benton ambles through the clichés in style as the headmaster, and Niki Evans smoulders as the drama teacher. There really should be a West End home somewhere for this sparkling, silly, loud, vulgar well-directed show. The band, under Lee Freeman, is worth the ticket price on its own.

Mr Stuart: Mark Benton.
Ms Mason: Niki Evans.
Stephanie: Ashleigh Gray.
Michael Aaron Sidwell.
Sharon: Bronte Barbe.
Johnny Stewart Clarke.
Louis: Joshua Dowen.
Goose: Luke Fetherston.
Davey: Harry Francis.
Rhonda: Lucinda Lawrence.
Paulette: Hannah Levane.
Nun: Rick Woska.
Ensemble: Jak Allen Anderson, James Darch, Katy Hards, Fela Lufadeju, Danielle Mullam, Simone Murphy, Joeph O’Reilly, Lisa Ritchie, Parisa Shahmir.

Director: Guy Unsworth.
Lighting: Charlie Morgan Jones.
Sound: David Bartholomeusz for Orbital.
Musical Director: Lee Freeman.
Choreographer: Matt Krzan.
Costume: Christopher Wilmer.
Assistant director: Rick Woska.

2014-04-17 13:06:50

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