It’s the charming love story mixed with teenage rebellion that made Grease ‘the word’ in film, but it’s the bona fide sexuality and dirty language that makes Grease the musical so much more.
Grease the musical is like the film’s raunchy older sibling.
It has all the leather jackets, cigarette smoke and curled hair you would expect, but there’s a certain authenticity about the characters onstage that isn’t tangible in the movie.
An up-close and personal performance
Studio 58’s production of the original Grease musical captured the essence of the setting and characters in a way only a theatre that size can.
Director Peter Jorgensen’s production was so intimate it was interactive. It opened with Miss Lynch, played by Anthea Morritt, speaking directly to the audience at Rydell High’s class of ’59 reunion, a cheeky way to engage the audience and remind us to silence our phones (or radio transmitters).
From then on actors would thunder down the aisles to get onstage, their leather boots shaking the theatre’s seats.
A stolen hubcap was deposited in one man’s lap for safe-keeping while Markian Tarasiuk’s Danny and Lauren Jackson’s Sandy sang inches from the audience’s faces.
Besides the physical closeness in Studio 58, there was an element of emotional bonding between the audience and characters.
Watching Sandy’s hair go from brown to blonde while Danny stepped out of the tough-guy mould let the audience feel as though they were coming of age right alongside the teens.
Gyrating hips and lewd jokes
The production also checked the box for impressive choreography and vocals.
Although it was occasionally hard to hear a solo, and some of the dance lifts were cringe- worthy, it was hard not to want to walk down the aisle and join them onstage.
Another notable part of the production was the almost colourless set, which changed from Rydell High to the Burger Palace to Marty’s bed- room, but this allowed no distractions from the characters’ constantly gyrating hips and the lewd jokes that warranted the play’s ‘Not suitable for children’ warning.
But despite all the forward sexuality, there was something endearing about smudges of Sandy’s red lipstick on Danny’s lips during their final bows.
Reported by Megan Bobetsis