How do you follow Berwick?
The preceding show at York Theatre Royal saw the legendary panto dame bow out after 40 years. So, a hard act to follow.
- Till Sat 23 Feb
- York Theatre Royal
- From £12
- More details
But luckily the anwer to that question was Grease by York Light.
Officially Britain’s favourite musical it offers bags of music, dancing and fun, with an added bonus of youthful exuberance.
And just like the panto there was even some (uninvited but amusing) audience participation. Boy those guys could hand jive.
Panache and precision
We all know the storyline of Grease. After a summer fling, Danny and Sandy find they are at the same US high school together.
The course of young love doesn’t run smooth but after a lot of backchat, bitchiness and rock’n’roll, the kids get it together.
First staged in 1971 and set in the Fifties, the core message of Grease – girls, you’d better put out if you want to snag a man – isn’t completely at ease in the modern world.
But it’s the music that makes the musical and here York Light simply know what they’re doing.
All the songs, from Grease Is The Word through Summer Nights and Beauty School Dropout were brimming with panache, complete with precision choreography.
There’s a strength in depth to this cast. The two leads are both excellent.
James Horsman adds a touch of vulnerability to his wisecracking Danny. Sarah Craggs does really well with the challenging part of Sandy, who has to spend much of the show as the school’s prim party-pooper before morphing into a leather-trousered man-eater.
Her high point is a beautiful and sweet version of Hopelessly Devoted.
Among the other principals, Jack Armstrong as Kenickie was particularly strong – Greased Lightnin’ is a highlight.
Emma-Louise Dickinson really gets under the skin of snarky Rizzo, showing off her vocal talent in There Are Worse Things I Could Do.
As the irritating and perkily passive aggressive Patty, Sarah Bruce was note perfect.
And we were particularly taken by Finn East as Roger and his date Jan, played by Fiona Baistow, who were terrifically watchable as well as very funny.
To bring together a show featuring this many fast and furious song-and-dance numbers takes some doing, so hats off to Martyn Knight who was both director and choreographer.
He was aided by a great band under the direction of John Atkin. And the set was impressive and ingenious – what a team effort.
You sensed the cast have even more to give. Now the first-show nerves are over, they can really let rip to take the big numbers up to a whole new level.
Anyone with a touch of the February blues should take refuge in those Summer Nights at the Theatre Royal till February 23. Put simply, if you’re looking for a big night out, Grease is the word.