first night


Serena Gosling enjoys an evening of 50's charm with Collingwood's production of 'Grease'


Grease follows the whirlwind summer romance of Danny and Sandy that comes to an abrupt end when Danny, trying to act cool in front of his gang, rudely brushes her off. It is a famous classic and, therefore, has many expectations attached to it. I am glad to say that director Cerys Jones has pulled this off brilliantly with the perfect amount of hip thrusting, underwear flashing and hair grooming thrown into the mix!


The first two group numbers were fantastic, the energy and exuberance of all the actors did much to captivate the audience and at many points I found I could not help but smile. At times the singing was drowned out by the music and parts of solos were lost but on the whole, vocals remained relatively strong throughout. The set was simple but effective, with a sofa, table and a few chairs used to represent the Rydell High cafeteria or a bedroom. Special mention should go to Abbi Richardson for the two Grease cars that proved a great hit with the audience! Tech and lighting were smooth and did much to set the tone in parts, notably during the drive-thru scene. The 1950s style costumes that were in abundance also did much to fuel the atmosphere.


The eight-person orchestra did a brilliant job, providing a strong accompaniment and an enjoyable and never-tiring distraction during the scene changes. However I could not help but be disappointed when favourites, such as ‘You’re the One that I Want’ and ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ were omitted.


The stand-out performance by far was given by Arthur Lewis as Danny Zukko, he maintained a high energy throughout which Sandy (Clara Shepherd) sometimes found hard to match. His slick dance moves and excellent vocals, coupled with his seemingly natural charm made him the perfect Zukko and he very much captured the audience’s attention from the start! Shepherd herself had a few awkward exchanges and wooden moments, notably when she walked in on the group in the infamous ‘Sandra Dee’ song and she seemed to struggle in group scenes. Nevertheless, her scenes with Lewis were mesmerizing and full of chemistry, and her voice was exceptional both in her solos and in harmony with Lewis.


Sian Green as Marty, also deserves a mention, dancing about the stage with naturalistic but incredible sass. The Pink Ladies in general were fantastic, with smooth interactions and laugh out loud moments that proved too numerous to count. Robyn Shepherd’s rendition of ‘Sandra Dee’ was a true highlight, combining great physicality with a brilliant voice and her chemistry with Tim Bufton, playing Kenickie, at times rivalled Lewis and Shepherd. Not to be outdone, the Greaser Gang were also excellent, providing many comic moments. Mark Goodwin as Roger did a great job in creating an obvious uncomfortable air in his exchanges with Jan (Michelle Jardim), which was cleverly offset by his more confident interactions within the gang.


Group scenes were, at points, stilted and lacking in energy. Some of the dancing was out of time and it was clear that a couple of people didn’t know the routine as well as others, constantly checking over their shoulder for the next move. There were some awkward build-ups and interactions, particularly in scenes ending in arguments or shouting that left the audience slightly confused as to what had just happened. However, on the whole the cast worked well together, presenting smooth interactions and great comic timing that kept the audience amused throughout, such as in ‘Born to Hand Jive’.


Despite a few vocal hiccups and awkward interactions, Jones has succeeded in creating a hilarious and incredibly sassy production. On the whole the actors have great voices and managed, for the most part, to maintain a high energy throughout. It was blatantly obvious to everyone that each and every cast member was thoroughly enjoying what they were doing and this noticeable enthusiasm and liveliness made it all the more entertaining. Collingwood might be a trek, but this production is well worth it and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting a night full of lipstick, life and lots of laughs.

14 March 2014

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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