Bristol Hippodrome -Tue 21 Sep to Sat 25 Sep 2021
Grease the Musical is currently on tour so this week we went to The Bristol Hippodrome to find out whether it’s true that ‘Grease is the Word’.
My knowledge of Grease had been limited to the tremendously popular film. I hadn’t even realised it started life as a musical several years before the film came out so read on for some background, a plot reminder (as if you need one!) and our verdict on Grease the musical.
WHEN DID GREASE COME OUT?
This brief timeline helps explain how the musical and the film evolved.
- The original gritty production, complete with sex and bad language premiered in Chicago in 1971.
- Grease the Musical was toned down to become more commercial and less Chicago-centric and opened on Broadway in 1972.
- Six years later the immensely popular film was released in 1978.
- Broadway revival in 1994
- The latest Boadway revival in 2007 followed a U.S reality show, “GREASE: YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT“, which acted as the selection process for their next Sandy and Danny. This reincarnation included some of the poopular songs added from the film, such as Grease, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the one that I want.
I’m old enough to remember the film coming out. I remember a slightly older neighbourhood friend coming round and telling us how the film was so amazing, she’d been to see it at the cinema multiple times. I’d never heard of such a thing before!
Grease, the movie, was and has continued to be a huge deal. Some of the musical hits we sang along to in the film are still incredibly popular today.
WATCHING GREASE AT THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME
As we waited in the queue to go into the Hippodrome, I spotted my first ‘Sandy’, dressed the part with an off the shoulder top and poured into impossibly tight shiny black trousers. Beside her was her denim and leather-clad ‘Danny’. Several groups of satin jacketed Pink-Ladies were dotted around. All of these characters offered a hint of how welcome the audience was about to make the cast of Grease.
If you go to The Bristol Hippodrome, remember they still have Covid 19 precautions in place. Other theatres presumably will too. The queue to go in was even longer than last week, snaking back into Frogmore Street but it moved quickly.
We showed our vaccination cards and e-tickets on our phones, as we entered. The process was fast and the show didn’t begin until the audience was seated. We later learned that a medical incident had added to the delay.
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WHAT IS GREASE THE MUSICAL ABOUT?
After a whirlwind summer romance, leather-clad greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year.
The high school cool-crowd, ‘Pink Ladies’, hang out with their male counterparts – the greased up, testosterone fuelled gang, known as the Burger Palace Boys (The T-Birds in the film version).
Kindly Frenchy tries to introduce new-girl Sandy into the Pink Ladies crew but will she be too straight-laced to make the cut?
And can Sandy and Danny survive the trials and tribulations of teenage life and find true love once more?
GREASE THE MUSICAL SONGS
The show is spilling over with huge hits including including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want.
GREASE – HIGHLIGHTS
Peter Andre did steal the show a teeny bit. The audience showed their appreciation from the moment he appeared on the stage as local DJ, Vince Fontiane, to welcome the kids back to a new school term.
The music and dancing are really what this show is all about. The excitement rose as soon as Grease is the word started to thumped out.
When the Burger Palace Boys cleverly performed Grease Lightening, the phrase which came to mind was “synchronised testosterone” (just me?!), so thanks to Arlene Philips’ choreography for that.
Ellie Kingdon, our (alternate) Sandy, sang a beautiful rendition of hopelessly devoted.
Frenchy sounded just like her film counterpart and the Beauty School Dropout scene complete with Peter Andre shrouded in white, amidst a stage full of dry ice did not disappoint!
WHAT AGE IS GREASE THE MUSICAL SUITABLE FOR?
Bad language is scattered through the show, with the use of words like cr*p and assh*le.
The protagonists are a bunch of ‘too cool for school’ adolescents. Sexual activity is frequently referred to, we see dry humping, there’s peer pressure to smoke, drink and get a tattoo and a teenage pregnancy is suspected.
Having said all that, there’s nothing I’d really worry about my almost teenage aged twelve year old seeing or hearing. I think I would have been uncomfortable with the ‘grittiness’ of the show if he was much younger.
HOW LONG IS GREASE THE MUSICAL?
Grease is approximately 2.5 hours long, including a 15-minute interval. The two recent shows we’ve seen have had a delayed start time so you might want to bear that possibility in mind if you’re relying on public transport or already pushing your children’s bedtime with an evening performance!
GREASE THE MUSICAL – THE VERDICT
Despite this being the first time I’ve seen Grease the musical, I enjoyed the familiarity as I noticed that sections of dialogue are pretty much word for word the same as the film, however some scenes are completely different.
I was disappointed by the omission of Rizzo’s classic quote when confiding with Marty in the film that she thought she was pregnant:-
“I feel like a defective typewriter.
I skipped a period”
Yes, I know, I must have watched the film way too many times to remember this kind of detail.
It’s the same with the music. Some of the familiar songs appear but not necessarily in the same order or within the same scene as they were in the film so there’s a mix of total familiarity coupled with some music I’ve never heard before.
Most of the music is terrific and what’s not to like about a classic love story? But despite that, this wasn’t my favourite musical. I didn’t particularly empathise with the characters and the dialogue was hard to hear in places. The scenery was fine but a bit sameish. We liked the bright burger bar scene which appeared towards the end and would have liked to have seen more of that.
However, the quality of the singing and dancing were great and it was impossible not to be caught up in the nostalgia.
Peter Andre was clearly a draw. If you’re hoping to see him, please do double check when booking as he only appears at certain performances.
Grease the Musical is a real crowd pleaser. To affirm this, the audience laughed, sang along and showed its appreciation with an extended standing ovation at the end.
WHERE IS GREASE THE MUSICAL PLAYING NEXT?
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
27 September – 2 October
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre
5 – 9 October
Opera House Manchester
Mon 11 Oct – Sat 23 Oct 2021
Belfast Grand Opera House
26 – 30 October
The Alexandra, Birmingham
Tue 2 Nov – Sat 6 Nov 2021
Southampton Mayflower Theatre
9 – 13 November
Mon 15 Nov – Sat 20 Nov 2021
READ THE FULL GUIDE TO BRISTOL HIPPODROME SHOWS
For up to date show information, read my full Bristol Hippodrome what’s on guide. It covers Bristol Theatre productions including pricing, booking information and links to more reviews with age suitability guides.
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DISCLOSURE: We received tickets/admission for the purposes of this review.
All opinions are my/our own and I retain full editorial control.