Review: Grease by Longridge Towers

Kenickie (Callum O'Reilly) jumps onboard the car for Greased Lightning as 
Longridge Towers stage Grease at the Maltings. Picture: Kimberley Powell
Kenickie (Callum O'Reilly) jumps onboard the car for Greased Lightning as Longridge Towers stage Grease at the Maltings. Picture: Kimberley Powell

Grease was the word as Longridge Towers’ senior school took centre stage at The Maltings with the 1950s teen classic.

The school was fortunate to licence the show. It is currently reserved for professional performance, however there was a short hiatus in the middle of the professional tour which coincided with Longridge’s scheduled performance dates.

Sandy (Martine Vrieling van Tuijl) and Danny (Rory Blyth)

Sandy (Martine Vrieling van Tuijl) and Danny (Rory Blyth)

As well as the original stage show the school licensed the legendary movie songs too to perform to two sell-out audiences.

The storyline comprises the adventures of the teens at Rydell High School as they prepare for their end of year prom, following the lives and loves of the self-styled ‘T-Birds’ and ‘Pink Ladies’.

Romantic leads were played by Martine Vrieling van Tuijl as Sandy, and Rory Blyth as Danny. Martine’s experience in principal roles was evident in her accomplished performance, especially the convincing transformation from ever-so-sweet ‘Sandra Dee’ to the worldly wise heartbreaker, ‘Big D’.

The audience was visibly moved by her soulful rendition of ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, and the smouldering ‘You’re the One that I Want’ in duet with Danny Zuko.

T-Birds sing about Danny's summer romance.

T-Birds sing about Danny's summer romance.

Rory was a convincing heartthrob, and it was hard to believe this was his first time on the stage.

There were strong performances from all of the leads. Callum O’Reilly was outstanding as T-Bird leader, Kenickie, receiving a fantastic reaction to his energetic, edgy rendition of the ‘Greased Lightning’.

James Shaw schmoozed his way around the ladies as Sonny. Alexander Williams had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as nice-but-dim Doody, excelling with ‘Those Magic Changes’.

Bob Jeffrey brought tears to eyes as lovestruck mooner Roger, with his rendition of obsessive teen love song ‘Mooning’. And the Pink Ladies were a knockout from the start.

Georgina Faed was exceptionally strong as world-weary leader Rizzo, with solo pieces ‘Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee’ and ‘There are Worse Things I Could Do’.

Martha Raine wowed as teen sweetheart Marty, and Siobhan Bankier played beauty student Frenchy with just the right balance of glamour and sensitivity.

Newcomer Jane Anderson impressed as goofy Jan, playing with confidence and tenderness opposite her love interest Roger.

Phoebe Weddle was especially strong as Patty Simcox, bouncing onto the stage with irritating energy and annoying smarm. Smaller cameos too were notable, not least Kirstyn Duff as Cha-Cha-DiGregorio, and James Bennet as the soulful Teen Angel.

James Williams showed perfect comic timing as nerdy Eugene, and Emily Gettins hit the right note as stern but compassionate Miss Lynch.

Mention must also go to Freja Raiker who exuded 50s rock ‘n’ roll energy as Johnny Casino, and Charlie Renner as sleazy DJ Vince Fontaine.

Impeccably choreographed dance numbers, fantastic music and sound lighting and backstage work was complemented by a stunning set and costumes.

Grease will be a hard acto to follow.