CONGRATULATIONS, big well done to me. Tot it up and I think you will find I am exactly the two billionth writer in the world to review some form of the musical Grease.
The treat for hitting this milestone in theatrical history on your behalf is another squizz at how they do the weller-weller-uhs at the Piccadilly Theatre where a recast has landed TV talent show almost Lauren Samuels (she almost became Dorothy) in the Olivia Newton-John role, and Siubhan Harrison as Rizzo.
Important life lesson alert: if the woman in your life ever wanted to be Sandy and not Rizzo when they first saw the film, believe me right now they aren’t for keeps. Axe them asap.
Rizzo is the cool one, and even the leathery biker-look thing that Sandy uses to make Travolta’s eyes pop in the finale doesn’t balance the score. In fact, the transformation makes Sandy less cool because it just means she has let greaser Danny Zuko – pronounced Zewwwko in the baudy American accents here – do whatever he wants and still get the girl to dress sexy.
He wins despite acting like a doofus. Rizzo wouldn’t be rolled over like that and as such it is Harrison who catches the eye as the bitchy-witchy anti-heroine, full of sass, cracking voice.
In contrast, the Samuels Sandy doesn’t stand out. Her shift here for example doesn’t compare well with, say, Sheridan Smith’s inexplicably breathless performance in Legally Blonde: The Musical across town.
But there is nothing in little Lauren’s collection of big-eye looks and sugary ballards to ruin the night either. She goes through the motions and we all still cheer.
The night I was there, leading man Noel Sullivan – him that used to be in Hear’Say with Kym Marsh – was ill and understudy Malcolm Goodgame played Zewwwko like his surname.
Yet there is always a feeling – maybe it’s the number of tourists with shopping bags in the stalls – that the casting is of secondary importance.
We just wanna see Grease. The show, its story you all know, its songs, its romance, is such a winning formula that anybody who can hold a note should be able to make this workout watchable.
To hear a brassy band pump out Grease Is The Word or Summer Lovin’ is fun wherever you are in the world, no exception here.
And that’s why 1,999,999,999 reviews have all ended: This is the show that you want. It’s true. This is the show that you want. Oh yes indeeeeed.