It's electrifyin' - what we thought of Grease, featuring Peter Andre, at Sunderland Empire

Almost fifty years since Grease first electrified audiences, the musical has proved more durable than Danny’s over-gelled quiff.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 10:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 18:13 pm

It’s a musical – and film spin off – that you’d have to have been living under a rock not to have seen. So it takes something special to make a touring production stand out from all the other Pink Ladies and T-Birds. Cue this electrifyin’ Curve production which stays true to the grit of the original musical, rather than relying on the candy floss of the Hollywood film version to put bums on seats.

Don’t worry, all the fun of the film is there, but the froth has been toned down as we follow this group of working class kids trying to find their way in the world on the mean streets of Chicago, rather than sunny California, while simultaneously navigating the peaks and troughs of love.

They’re a young cast and it shows in their unrelenting energy which radiates off the stage in group numbers. Although all your favourite characters are there, this is very much an ensemble piece and iconic songs such as Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights and Greased Lightnin’ are delivered with infectious vitality and slick choreography by Arlene Phillips.

Peter Andre as Teen Angel. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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Stepping into the dancing shoes of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is no easy task, but Dan Partridge and Martha Kirby do a great job of making the roles of Danny and Sandy their own, with added swagger and sass. They really do justice to the score, with a moving rendition of Hopelessly Devoted To You and Danny’s solo number about making a success of himself, How Big I’m Gonna Be, a rarely-heard track from the original.

My favourite character has always been the fabulously flawed Rizzo and Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky is brilliant at portraying this troubled soul who you can’t help but warm to and she particularly ramps up the feistiness in a brilliant rendition of Sandra Dee during a slumber party. This is a girl gang you want to a part of.

As if the teenage teasing and high school hijinks weren’t enough excitement for one evening, then Peter Andre appears as Teen Angel. From the first glimpse of his white suit and wings the crowd went wild for the singer as he lent his distinctive pitch to Beauty School Dropout.

It’s a shame to limit such a voice to one song but, much to the delight of the audience, he returns for a finale megamix that was just what everyone wanted.

Grease the musical

*Grease is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, August 3. Peter Andre plays Teen Angel at certain venues on the tour.

Danny and The Burger Palace Boys (The T-Birds)
Martha Kirby and Dan Partridge
Grease is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, August 3.