Grease The Musical Review

Reviewed by Cynthia Ning

The highly anticipated Grease The Musical has finally hit Sydney’s Capitol Theatre with a sold-out opening night. Avid musical theatregoers and guest stars alike put their best 50s inspired outfits forward which made for a glittering red-carpet event.

Guests were ushed into the iconic theatre and we were pleasantly surprised to see retro advertisements and animations of lobby snacks being played on the projection screen which set the perfect ambiance. We felt that we were truly at an evening out in 1959 as we settled back to enjoy the feature film at The Starlight Drive In.

The dark set teased audience members with a single beaming light from the smiling moon as two familiar silhouettes appeared longing for each other. The whole stage soon lit up with bright neon lights and life as the cast burst into song, singing the beloved title song Grease. A startling but exciting opening scene which set the tone and pace of the performance to come.

The towering bleachers stood on top of the rotating platform with the hollow space down below used as functional rooms during scene changes. The costumes were carefully colour coordinated to stand out from the monochrome set palate and the frequent change of lights.

Annelise Hall played an earnest Sandy, wearing her heart on her sleeve as she sung with perfect pitch. Annelise is a very giving and patient stage partner, allowing time for her co-stars to relish in the applauses before picking up the scene again. She radiated when delivering her lines with both firmness and kindness, sticking to her values and belief on love. A wonderful rendition of the character, capturing the essence of Olivia Newton John’s portrayal in the 1978 film and making it her own. 

The Pink Ladies, Rizzo (Mackenzie Dunn), Jan (Caitlin Spears), Marty (Brianna Bishop) and Frenchy (Catty Hamilton) were engaging, sassy and vibrant throughout the show. They were giving us fabulous fashion moments, perfectly hair sprayed styles and serving phenomenal vocals with Mackenzie Dunn delivering a killer version of the song, ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’. She performed the sharp tongued yet vulnerable Rizzo to a tee.

The moving set walls that were patterned like windowpanes served as the backdrop of the city, burger joint and school classrooms with Eugene (Gareth Isaac) and Patty (Lucy Fraser) providing comic relief, having fun and playing into their quirky dialogue and awkward gestures with their interaction with the main cast.

Joseph Spanti plays the boyish and charming Danny Zuko, living up to the reputation as playboy and high school heartbreaker. The chemistry between Sandy and Danny were undeniable as the moments they were apart encapsulated what it meant to young and in love. Joseph knew how to play it cool, emulating a touch of John Travolta’s mannerisms of the character as the leader of the T-Birds. Slick like his hair and ride whilst keeping everyone amused with banter with the boys. But he also showed his tender side in the brief moments of when he let his guard down and melted whenever he was near Sandy.

The T-Birds gang, Doody (Tom Davis), Sonny (Harry Targett), Roger (Andy Seymour) and Kenickie (Keanu Gonzalez) were mischievous teenagers running amuck with their (literal) cheeky antics and playing up the cool cat’s behaviour when the girls came around. Tom and Keanu were standouts and stole each scene they were featured in. Doody was a sweetheart with the crowd rooting for him to ask

Frenchy out and Kenickie shone with his charismatic and confident personality. We were blown away by the excellent quality of vocal performances by all the cast members, giving us upbeat and tight musical numbers. The second act was just as memorable and exciting, and we were zapped back to the rolling 50s era of Elvis Presley and fast cars after the brief intermission.

We were now at the school dance with the heated couple’s dance competition about to begin. Patti Newton played the well-respected Miss Lynch who kept the boys in line with fantastic delivery of her lines, landing every joke and pause. Jay Laga'aia electrified the room with his rocking vocals as the flirty Vince Fontaine and maintained an impressive American accent.

The ever so feisty Cha Cha (Cristina D’Agostino) performed a tantalising tango, being the self-proclaimed the best dancer of the night and she knew it. Cristina played the perfect antagonist and dazzled everyone during her moment in the spotlight.

Frenchy’s dream sequence was a heavenly sight to see with silky smooth vocals provided by Marcia Hines as the Teen Angel. She gave an unforgettable performance with wise words of advice to go back to high school. It was a dream to see her perform live.

The swing and ensemble provided energetic support to the main cast with seamless scene transitions and a bit of magic when it came to revealing the refurbished 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible, ‘Greased Lightning’.

A truly spectacular Australian production and performance that received a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd as we joined in the celebration to dance and sing along to the lyrics of Grease. This is the show that will be the talk of the town for weeks to come.

If you’re a fan of the movie, the music and 50s style nostalgia then you must bring your sweetheart to see Grease The Musical before it drives off into the sunset.