GREASE: The Musical cast singing Grease is the word

Fair warning, I’m a big fan of musicals and Grease was my first musical-movie, so forgive me if I come off as a fangirl. The 1978 hit movie was set in a high school during the 1950s and follows the unlikely romance between bad boy Danny Zuko and girl-next-door Sandy. Most of the songs featured in the movie like “Summer Nights”, “You’re The One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You” went on to become chart-toppers that many still love today, including me. Even so, I have to say that the latest production of the classic, Grease: The Musical, didn’t quite satisfy my appetite for musical delight.

Grease: The Musical Val Lehman as Miss Lynch

WHAT I LOVED
Right off the bat, sternly comedic schoolteacher Miss Lynch (above), portrayed by Val Lehman, marched on stage and roped the audience into singing nonsensical lyrics (parts of “We Go Together”), with parts of the ensemble lining the aisles to spread their infectious energy into the crowd. Evidently, the little sing-along had the desired effect as many of the audience were singing and grooving along to the well-known hits like “Summer Nights” and particularly crowd favourite “Greased Lightnin”. The catchy number was obviously aimed to impress with a modified 1948 Ford convertible onstage during the performance. The car then underwent a dazzling transformation mid-song amidst electric guitar riffs, and ended with the cast driving off the stage accompanied by brilliant pyrotechnics.

GREASE: The Musical Lucy Maunder as Rizzo

The secondary cast were particularly impressive as well, especially Lucy Maunder as ‘It girl’ Rizzo (left), who leads the clique of girls that new kid in town Sandy befriends. From the moment she strutted out in her shades, Lucy blew me away. With her powerful vocals, she breathed life into the opening number, “Grease Is The Word”, and overpowered most of the cast. She continually stole the limelight with her condescending drawl and big voice, especially in her emotional rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”, which was equal parts vulnerability and pride – definitely the highlight of the night.

Resident director Jason Capewell’s performance as hotshot radio DJ Vincent Fontaine and the Teen Angel was also a delight to watch. His charming portrayal of Vincent was both humorously sassy and swoon-worthy at the same time while his crooning Teen Angel had the crowd cheering and whooping.    

BUT …
Unfortunately, leads Greta Scarlett and Stephen Mahy didn’t hold up in comparison to Lucy and Jason’s talent and charisma, let alone in comparison to the original stars of the hit movie Grease. Despite the six year age gap between them, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John had something the two stars of Grease: The Musical sorely lacked – chemistry. Watching the first two on screen was literally electrifying. Greta and Stephen on the other hand? Not so much. The secondary couple, Jan and Roger, was by far my favourite of the musical with their adorable goofiness and comic relief.

Speaking of comic relief, like your typical lackluster sitcom, Grease lays on cheesy humour in bucket-loads. In fact, by the intermission, I could almost imagine someone waving around a giant “Laugh” cue card for every comedic moment. Perhaps this latest production would have done better if they had chosen to add some depth to the pretty cliche and predictable storyline of Grease instead of cheesy humour.

FINAL VERDICT
Grease: The Musical is a light-hearted walk down memory lane that is probably best for undiscerning families who are looking for a fun night full of laughs. Although you may want to watch out for the cussing and excessive middle-fingers if you have younger kids with you.

Catch Grease: The Musical at the Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatre from now to May 18, 2014. Tickets are priced from $60 and are available at SISTIC. For more information, visit https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/grease0514.