The Mad Fish production of the 50’s set musical Grease at the Izzard theatre embodied all the youthful energy and exhuberance which tipified this decade.
Grease has rightly joined the ranks of our favourite musicals. It has all of the vital ingredients - a simple storyline and plenty of catchy songs. Emma Burnett and Zach Le Cheminant’s clever direction made the most of all these as well as adding a few imaginative touches along the way. With toes and hands sore from tapping and clapping these were the fastest two hours that I can remember having spent in a theatre.
This talented young cast worked hard to bring to life the simple tale of young love in high school. A group of boys -The T Birds played by Tyler Sargent, Jacob Murphy, Zach Le Cheminant, Luke Hawes and Joshua Kinsella pursue a group of rock chicks - The Pink Ladies played by Amber Blackman, Alice Creasey, Evie Hooten, Ruby Hammond, Frankie Stewart and Amy Potter. The T Birds leader Danny (Tyler Sargent) falls for the demure Sandy who is an unlikely recruit to the Pink Ladies. After a rollercoaster courtship she undergoes a transformation to a leather-clad siren in the raunchy finale You’re the one that I want. The part of Sandy was played on different performances by Saskia Burke and Isobelle Goldup both of whom gave a fine individual interpretation of the role.
There were some fine cameos too. Sam Knight-Farman skillfully maintained the character of the geeky Eugene and Chae Greene evoked memories of early American DJs as Vince Fontaine. Luke Hawes as Teen Angel singing Beauty School Drop Out was backed by dancers in costumes and routine reminiscent of early Busby Berkley muscials. Credit must also go to choreographer Kirstie Wilde and musical director Lesley Van Egmond. Their ensemble production routines were particularly strong. The opening number Grease had particular impact leaving the audience eagerly anticipating what was to follow.The dance contest faithfully captured the atmosphere of a high school hop with plenty of carefully staged asides taking place as couples were eliminated to find the winner. This was an especially entertaining scene further enhanced by Sam Hickman’s vocal. Perhaps the song which best embodies all the youthful energy of this show is the one often reprised on stage as the encore - We Go Together. Well, the Mad Fish certainly did go together with all of them giving this one their best shot including a fine accapella section leading to a well deserved standing ovation.
Thanks to all of you for reminding those of us who were around in the decade when Rock ‘n Roll was born just how much fun it was...you would have loved it!