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Grease at Theatre Royal, Brighton

The West End production of Grease is in Brighton over Christmas

Photo by Paul Coltas

I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying. I’d better shut the door and tell you about Grease – the Christmas musical at Brighton’s Theatre Royal this year.

This is the touring West End production of the well-loved show, with Tom Parker from boy band The Wanted taking the male lead as Danny. Sandy is Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope with EastEnders and Strictly’s Louisa Lytton as acerbic Rizzo.

Tom Parker (front) with the T Birds, in Grease in Brighton. Photo by Paul Coltas

There’s a live band on stage, or rather above the stage, who introduce themselves at the beginning – a good trick to get the audience warmed up. From then onwards they are either visible or curtained off depending on the scene. Not that the audience needed much warming up. It’s incredible that hits from a musical set in the 50s, made famous by a film in the late Seventies can still fill a dance floor at wedding discos this side of the new millennium.

They are, of course, irresistibly sing-along. I stole a few glances at the audience in the first half and could see rows of people, like myself, silently mouthing the words. After a bit of interval lubrication the karaoke was less muted and there was giggling as a few low voices from the audience chimed in with the ballads on stage before we all were at it for the finale.

Danielle Hope as Sandy (centre) and Louisa Lytton as Rizzo (right) with the Pink Ladies. Photo by Paul Coltas

Among the cast, Danielle’s are the vocals that really shine. Special mention must also go though to Oliver Jacobson who does a great solo in the more minor role of Roger.

Baby-faced Tom as Danny is no John Travolta but he handles the comic side of the part well and was popular with the crowd. I particularly enjoyed his efforts to get intimate in the drive in scene, and the bit where his cool façade slips when he first re-meets Sandy was funnier than in the film.

The set is fairly simple for most scenes, though there’s a dazzling (quite literally) transformation of the car for Greased Lightnin’. The stage is filled instead with plenty of exuberant dancing.

Photo by Paul Coltas

The show is billed as for 8+. I took my 10-year-old nephew along and saw a few others had also brought children. Whether you’d want to do the same depends on how relaxed you are about moderate swearing and sexual references. Most went over his head and I made sure I clapped along loudly by his ear to Greased Lightnin’ hoping to obscure some of the bluer lyrics.

“They did lots of rude hand signals!” he said to me gleefully as we left the theatre, while I reminded him that smoking definitely isn’t cool and the show was set in the past when people didn’t know how bad it was for you (there’s a wry gag to this effect).

Rude gestures aside, it was We Go Together and the medley of songs at the end that he really loved. He giggled along at the light-hearted sparring between the friends and double-checked with me in the interval that Danny was going to turn out nice after all.

“It was amazing!” he told his dad, so it looks like those songs are still hooking a new generation.

Grease is at Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton, until Dec 31 with daily performances and matinees on certain dates. Tickets are from £17. atgtickets.com

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