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I am not a fan of Grease, however this production was the best I’ve seen, from every point of view.  The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the cast, aligned with excellent musicality, choreography and costumes, made this a purely pleasurable evening’s entertainment.  

The set worked well, and the different levels were used to advantage, with a super lighting plot, which enhanced the action on stage.  Sound balance was good throughout.

Clive Ogden had a tight-knit band who gave the music enthusiasm, but never encroached on the cast – so although you were aware of the fantastic sound it all blended well.  Clive seems to lift everyone with his zest for the feel of the music, and this really showed.

Costumes were excellent throughout, from Jane Foufas and her crew – the girls had lovely dresses throughout and matched their shoes, which was a good touch – all the hairstyles were very in-keeping with the times – so the overall look matched the performance levels.

I liked the way Alan Cox kept the action flowing, with practically no blackouts, and the use of dancers in spots at the front of the stage during the more major scene changes was great.

Choreography was excellent – Claire Stanley had a lot to do, but everyone was well-drilled in good numbers, and I was impressed too with the ability of the men – everyone obviously worked really hard in creative numbers, that picked up some of the expected elements, with added twists - a joy to watch.

Henry Cox choreographed Grease Lightning for the boys, which was also a full-on well-conceived production number, with everyone really buying into the imaginative dance moves.  

We had a strong cast, who seemed to bond and be aware of each other on stage, good relationships and characters gave us the contrasts and dimensions to make it interesting on all levels.

Oli Martin-Smith gave us a slightly subdued Danny, because he dislocated his shoulder at the beginning of the run, but I was impressed and thought he did really well, although it must have been a disappointment to him that he wasn’t able to participate in all the musical numbers that he’d learnt in rehearsal.

Oli was well-matched by Bethan Rufey as Sandy – a lovely portrayal, she got the innocent naivety well, so that the makeover and change in attitude was super.  Musically Oli and Bethan sounded good together, and were also very strong apart.  

Adam Herbert Keene gave us a very challenging Kenickie – typical of what we perceive as a good time college boy of the times – I enjoyed what he did with the part.

Elise Allanson was Kenickie’s counterpart in the feisty Rizzo – a lovely part, and one which she played to the hilt.  I loved both her solo numbers, but she also blended well with the ensemble.  This couple were again a good pairing, matching each other in their intensity of performance.

Andrea Campusano gave Frenchy the persona required, which came over well, and gave a good contrast to the Pink Ladies group – which also included Stefanie Chadburn as the exuberant Jan, happy to eat her way through college – and the flirty Marty, played by Aditi Sawjani – I really liked the way the girls played off each other, and kept their own characters throughout.

The T-Birds group saw Alan Baker as the irrepressible and slightly shy Doody, a strong character, nicely done.  Oliver David as the full-on Roger, again an excellent portrayal, with Adam Feighoney as Sonny, adding so much to that little group of friends.  Again they played off each other well, very believable.

These two groups also had good voices that blended well.

Charlie Harden gave a super comedy performance as Eugene (the nerdy one!) – he always gets into his character, and was great fun to watch.

Henrietta Wingate-Martin also came up trumps with Patty, I liked what she did with the part.

I loved the Teen Angel scene – always over the top – but Chris Andrews had a lovely melting voice that took Beauty School Dropout out of the cheesy into something rather special, despite the over-indulgence of smoke!

Abi Bedford really took on the sexy role of Cha Cha and gave it her all, whilst Debby Connor was a suitably haughty Miss Lynch.

David Duffy and Jeremy Cohen had fun with the roles of Johnny Casino and Vince Fontaine, with Johnny leading Born to Hand Jive.

One difference I noted was in We Go Together – there was a section that was ‘a capella’, it made a very interesting and diverse sound, that I loved.

The ladies and men of the ensemble also gave everything in terms of bringing the choreography to life, and giving us loads of expression.

I had a super evening and don’t think this version of Grease will be matched for a long time – very well done to everyone, loads of energy and expression, contrasts and dimensions that meant we all left on a high.

St. Albans Operatic Society

GREASE”review date: 7th Nov 2014

at Alban Arena, St Albans

Director: Alan Cox    MD: Clive Ogden

Choreographer: Claire Stanley


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