Last week I had the pleasure of going to see Blackpool and the Fylde College’s rendition of the musical Grease. Although the cast didn’t know, they were set with the impossible task of making me actually enjoy the musical as it is one that I have never taken a liking to. That being said I am shocked to say that these students defied my expectations and managed to change my mind, I actually ended up loving the show and saw it not once, but twice with two incredibly talented alternate casts. The camp, cheese, and style was set up from the get go with the opening song ‘Grease Is The Word’ and from there the musical just kept getting better.
Our main man for both shows Frazer Mundy deserves a round of applause as he commanded the stage, with presence which was needed for the lead role of Danny. Talking to Frazer before the opening show he described his struggle with the character being so unlike himself, so I really didn’t know what to expect when seeing him in this iconic role. However I think he should be quite proud of himself. Casey Gwilliam who took on the role of Rizzo, the sarcastic and tenacious leader of the Pink Ladies, was tasked with perhaps one of my favourite songs (if I had to choose) ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’. The raw emotion being infused into her performance of this song was a sight to behold, I couldn’t help looking around the audience who seemed to be in awe as much as I was. Another shout out has to go to Emily Speake who played Jan. She had me in stitches and crying with laughter from beginning to end and was effortless in embodying the silly girly nature that that role entails.
When talking to director Alison Burns before the show she promised me her version of Grease would bring authenticity and lots of comedy moments, and she kept true to her word. The performance stayed true historically to the emerging sexual freedom in America during the late 1950s, and with that came comical exploitation of some characters such as Eugene (played by Robbie Gaskell) who was seen in ‘Freddy My Love’ dancing with the dream girls in matching headdress and leotard which was just brilliant direction and the audience ate it up.
Although I did enjoy most of the show I do have to point out that there were a few members trying to scene steal, and also perhaps the most iconic song of the show ‘We Go Together’ fell flat for me. I can almost forgive people forgetting choreography for this number as it one of those that you could improvise and not have much set in stone. However this is a song is about friendship and togetherness and it would have been lovely to see the cast actually enjoying themselves instead of doing choreography that it seemed not everyone agreed on. With this being their last show together as an entire year group, I thought perhaps they could use their own circumstances in this song as they too shall be leaving university soon.
All that being said I must again say that I really did enjoy this show and it was a pleasurable piece of theatre. Also I must point out that I did see the first two performances which was a bit mean of me because of first show jitters for both casts. The students should be very proud of themselves, they worked very hard to achieve this standard of theatre and being semi-professionals. I see no end to what they can achieve once leaving university in a few months’ time, and I wish them luck.
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