Grease, Bridewell Theatre | Review


Grease
Bridewell Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th November 2018 by Nicola Louise 
★★

With its cheesy jokes, feel good songs and an array of over enthusiastic teenagers from the 50’s with a rebellious edge, it’s not hard to see why Grease has been at the forefront of musical theatre for over 30 decades.

Songs like You’re the One That I Want and Look at me I’m Sandra Dee have been played countless times, and sung by some well-known names. So when Rewrite This Story got invited to review an Am Dram revival of this well-loved musical, we jumped at the chance to take our seat.

Unfortunately, I wish I hadn’t been so quick off the bat, apart from Yvette Stiel (Cha Cha) and Charlie Smith (Danny) dancing to Born to Hand Jive at the school dance, there’s very little right with this show.

Danielle Orlans (Rizzo) had countless face movements, almost like she had a tick and put on a very strange New York/Boston accent which carried on through her singing, making it very hard to hear the words and almost painful to the ears. I was unsure why Director Stuart James had Orlans sing There are Worst Things I Could Do to Sandy (Laura Ellis), who looked just as confused as myself and a couple of people sitting next to me.

Casting Smith as Danny, in my opinion was not the best move. He had no charm and nothing about him screamed leader; Jarrod Hawn, who played Kenickie would have been a much better choice as I found him to have more stage presence, charm and wit.

Ellis as Sandy was a decent choice although I felt like she was cast due her voice, her rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You was pitch perfect and the whole audience was captured by her and her emotion during the song. As sweet and innocent Sandy, Ellis played the role ok at first but as the show went on it looked like she was more comfortable. In the grand scheme of things this is a positive as it mirrors Sandy and her character growth but at the start just felt unsteady.

The rest of the T-Birds and Pink ladies we’re nothing special, however, I was drawn to Ashlie Kenyon-Evason who portrayed Jan, the way she bounced around stage and belted out high notes made the show watchable, as well as Kate Winney (Marty) who carried her character well and had the 'younger girl wishing to be older' scenarios down to a T.

With direction from New Zealand born Stuart James, this show is, unfortunately a massive flop, the singing was mediocre, the acting was barely there and they shoved too many people on the stage at one time making the dance scenes look messy and uncoordinated which I would have thought the choreographers, Samantha Herriot and Vanessa Forte have noticed.

Overall, the show seemed clunky and unrehearsed and this is one showing of Grease I wish to never see again.

Grease is currently playing at the Bridewell Theatre with completely sold out performances.

5 comments

  1. Please think twice before allowing someone who clearly has zero qualifications on critiquing the hard work this company has put into Grease. Regardless of whether Nicola thought that it was professionally appropriate to use terms such as 'painful' and 'flop,' these are non-professional performers, who are doing it for the love of the craft and this scathing review has literally torn down every aspect of their show. The tone to this poorly-written article is extremely negative throughout and strikes more as a bashing than any form of useful review. Maybe this 'reviewer' should think about the distinct lack of constructive criticism she is offering to this company, not only shamefully displaying her inability to construct a well-rounded review, but also sadly devaluing the credibility of this otherwise good Blog.

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  2. Hmm, this is one of Nicolas reviews that I must fundamentally disagree with...
    While selective points hold some weight (lyrics and dialogue sometimes becoming lost in the accent), I really feel that describing Ellis' performance as 'Ok', and Smith as possessing 'no charm' is grossly divisive; both played their parts with truth and authenticity, and focused on portraying their journey as teens in love, which is what they indeed are (lets not forget that Travolta/Newton-John were edging on 30 when the stylised film was made). Moreover, both had objectively exceptional voices. I also felt that the T-Birds and Pink Ladies did their parts justice. The style of the piece was admittedly not what my wife and I had maybe expected, but I am wholly at fault there for assuming it would be a replica of the film! Once I realised that this portrayal was going to be different, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had 'chills multiplying' during the wonderful ensemble numbers! Nicola should give credit where it is due and focus on the positives that this AMDRAM performance displayed :-)

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  3. I do sincerely hope that future AMDRAM actors are not dissauded from performing in similar shows by frankly nasty and (poorly written) reviews such as this rubbish. This is not a review, it is an unfair and unjustified bashing of actors who are simply performing for the love of theatre. I saw Grease on Saturday night and I particularly felt that Charlie Smith was an incredibly strong Danny in both vulnerability, style and charisma - and this mean-spirited criticism of him and other actors seems cruel and without a purpose. I sincerely hope that this reviewer revisits the purpose of her craft and takes a long look in the mirror, as I cannot imagine that writing poorly edited and mean reviews such as this is why she began reviewing theatre.

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  4. I'm quite appalled by this review. I would agree with a few points made but on the whole to write such a negative review for an amateur theatre production is quite disgraceful. However, if we are attacking all things amateur than I can conclusively say your skills as a reviewer and writer are 'mediocre', 'messy' and definitely 'without charm'. One could say in terms of professionalism this review is a 'flop'.

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  5. In all, I don't disagree with this review. AmDram Performers in London brag about the professional level of their shows and performers and then as soon as they pan and get a bad review, they're suddenly AmDrammers again. The hypocrisy stinks. I thought that there were some great vocal performances from Ellis as Sandy and Glen Jordan as Teen Angel. I think the same cast (minus Danielle Orlans who was not good imo) doing any other show would've been much more enjoyable. Grease is a bad show. This was a bad show. But the individuals who put it on weren't necessarily bad.

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