GREASE started off as a Broadway musical by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey in 1972. However, the musical is most popularly known for the 1978 hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This production knows that, so four songs written specially for the film, “Grease is the Word”, “Sandy”, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “You’re The One That I Want” have been incorporated into this version. On top of that, Sandy is now Australian, which is a nod to the film. (The film changed the character of Sandy to an Australian in order to accommodate Australian pop-star Olivia Newton-John’s accent.) This is, of course, ironic given that this is an Australian cast.
The leads, Stephen Mahy and Gretel Scarlett are competent as the famous couple, Danny and Sandy. Scarlett, particularly, adds her own interpretation to Sandy’s solo, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, making the song sound fresh. The rest of the supporting cast does a good job as well, but Lucy Mauder as Rizzo brought the house down with her powerful rendition of “There Are Worst Things I Can Do”. The harmonies are tight, and there is no weak spot even in the ensemble.
This production knows that everyone in the audience comes for the songs made famous by the film, so every song becomes a big number. Every big number is staged like a concert, over the top with backup dancers. In fact, you know it is going to be more of a concert when the show opens with the band on stage, the conductor dancing away and getting the audience to clap along. During the song “Those Magic Changes”, men in towels pops out of the shower to provide backup vocals while random girls come running in as fans. Microphones are whipped out from nowhere in many of the songs, concert style. This largely works in getting the audience involved, especially for songs like “Grease Lightning” and “Beauty School Dropout”. However, it feels out of place in songs like “You’re The One That I Want” which I feel impedes the choreography of both Danny and Sandy.
Special mention has to go to “Greased Lightning”. I am especially impressed by how the production manages to change a rundown looking car into the brand new car complete with lights in just a few seconds. This is definitely one of the highlight of this production.
The new orchestrations and new choreography makes this well-honed production feels fresh and new again. With all the familiar songs and the energetic cast on stage, you can’t help getting infected by the energy and start tapping your toes. This production doesn’t pretend to be anything other giving the audience a fun, nostalgic trip, and from the response of the audience, they have succeeded.
GREASE runs at the Grand Theatre, Marina Bay Sands till 18th May. Tickets available from SISTIC.