Review: Grease, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until October 21
Think Grease and you immediately think of John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and the iconic 1978 movie that wowed cinema audiences all over the world.
You think of the classic hits. You think Summer Nights, Greased Lighnin', Hopelessly Devoted To You, Sandy, You're The One That I Want. There were so many great songs that captured .the rock n roll essence of 1950s America.
Well, there's a new class at Rydell High School and, boy, do they have some big shoes to fill.
Tom Parker of The Wanted has the job of following in the fancy footsteps not just of the irrepressibly cool Travolta but also Richard Gere, the first Danny Zuko to appear on stage in London back in 1973.
Similarly, Danielle Hope looks to emulate not just Newton-John, but also the likes of Elaine Paige, in taking on the role of the innocent Sandy, initially too 'square' for the Pink Ladies and T Birds before her memorable transformation at the tale's finale.
Being judged against such stellar performers is always going to be a daunting task but both Hope and Parker bring great enthusiasm and energy to the roles and clearly have a big likeability factor with the audience who are quick to dance and sing along as the show rolls along at a lively pace and one hit song follows another as the classic plot unfolds.
They are backed by a vibrant supporting cast. Louisa Lytton is suitably caustic as Rizzo, no mean feat given how brilliant Stockard Channing portrayed the character in the movie. Equally, George Olney shows his versatility as both Vince Fontaine during the classic high school dance contest and as the Teen Angel during Beauty School Dropout.
Tom Senior impresses as Danny's faithful sidekick Kenickie and a special mention must go to fellow T Birds Ryan Heenan (Doody) and Oliver Jacobson (Roger) who provide many of the laughs.
The dance sequences - take a bow Natasha Mould as the sultry Cha Cha - are fantastic, no surprise given Arlene Phillips' expertise. There's certainly a bit of the flamboyance associated with Strictly Come Dancing in each routine. And the hit songs are delivered superbly, from the fast and furious beat of Greased Lightnin' to the slower, softer moments such as Sandy.
The fun goes on for almost two and a half hours. Deserved bows are taken and the feelgood factor is high as everyone heads out into the autumn night. Grease is the word, for sure.
As the song might've said, it's the one that you want to see!