Review: Grease, Sunderland Empire

Grease is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, May 6.
Grease is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, May 6.

Whatever your opinion of Grease, it really is one of the classics.

It's loved by all generations - so woe betide you if you get it wrong and upset the legions of fans across the country.

There was no such concern with the latest production, which opened at Sunderland Empire last night (Monday, May 1).

Starring Tom Parker (of The Wanted fame) as Danny Zuko, Danielle Hope as Sandy, and Eastenders' Louisa Lytton as Rizzo, the cast had us hand-jiving, shimmying and singing along from the start of Summer Nights.

One of the things I love most about Grease is that you know what you're going to get - and as long as you get your favourite things, you're going to be happy.

And so I winced at Patty Simcox (played brilliant and shrilly by Gabriella Williams) danced along as Vince Fontaine (George Olney) arrived at Rydell High and giggled along at Roger and Jan's blossoming relationship.

Danielle Hope as Sandy, Tom Parker as Danny and Louisa Lytton as Rizzo.

Danielle Hope as Sandy, Tom Parker as Danny and Louisa Lytton as Rizzo.

I have to make a special mention for Rosanna Harris, who played Jan, because she really is my favourite character in the musical.

She's goofy, sweet and unapolagetically herself - and I like to think there's a little bit of Jan in all of us (no, just me?)

And that's another thing I love about Grease - while the storyline follows Danny and Sandy as the key characters, there are so many secondary characters to get attached to (and I do).

So we see ourselves sleeping over at Marty's house with Rizzo, Frenchy and the rest of the Pink Ladies, we see ourselves taking a ride in Greased Lightnin' with Kenickie, Doody, Sonny and the guys.

Grease is the word.

Grease is the word.

At opening night, Kenickie was played by Michael Cortez - and his portrayal was the perfect combination of aloof and alpha male to offset Lytton's prickly and sassy Rizzo.

And so to Danny and Sandy.

You'd never guess it was pop star Tom Parker's first foray onto the theatre stage. He looked so at home and delivered an ideal Zuko - the accent was sharp, the moves were sharper and he had the power to turn the audience's ladies to mush.

Danielle Hope's Sandy was sweet, innocent - and then sultry. They were both so well played that I was suitably outraged on Sandy's behalf when Danny didn't treat her right - and jealous when he danced along with Cha Cha (Natasha Mould) instead of just asking Sandra Dee to be his date.

But the final word of this review goes out to the punter who scored Danny Zuko's comb as he flung it out into the crowd with his final bow. Good catch - but should we meet, that comb is mine ...

Grease is STILL the word.

*Grease is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, May 6.