Wednesday, April 09, 2014



Chelmsford Young Generation at the Civic Theatre


A retro feel to the styling and the staging: the austere brickwork of the school hall at Rydell High forms the backdrop to the whole story – the sleek Greased Lighting glides in through the double doors.
Costume and hair are also pleasingly redolent of those distant 50s.
Jeremy Tustin's production has some lovely touches: the grease monkey chorus, the baby-doll beauticians. The Prom Night duet is tellingly staged, and Doody [Charlie Toland] is given a backing trio and a gold jacket for his big number. And the huge cast – including some Junior High School kids – fills the wide stage in splendid Todd-AO. Lively dancing, with plenty of those tasteless and vulgar movements, and perhaps not enough of the inventiveness that brings a witty hint of Busby Berkeley to Beauty School Dropout.
Natasha Newton makes a convincingly “wholesome and pure” Sandy, with Henri de Lausun as her devoted Danny. A whole string of excellent performances in support, including audience favourite Jack Toland as goofball Eugene, Alice Catchpole as the omnivorous Jan, Monique Crisell as Frenchy and especially Tamara Anderson as the mature and cynical Rizzo. Her handling of Worse Things I Could Do is exemplary – insightful and crystal clear. Because in this show the words are always important, carrying the satire and the social comment behind the nostalgia and the dancing.

production photograph: Barrie White-Miller

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