Review: Grease the Musical in Sydney

Grease the Musical is now playing in Sydney! I was fortunate to be invited to the opening night at The Lyric Theatre (inside The Star) in Sydney.

In case you’ve been living under a rock with no wi-fi access, Grease the Musical is based on the 1978 film Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This Aussie interpretation stars Rob Mills who is fresh from playing Emmett in Legally Blonde as bad boy Danny as well Gretel Scarlett, who debuts as a leading actress playing overly sweet Sandy.

I grew up watching Grease, I’m pretty sure this is NOT a unique trait. This simply exemplifies that even as the ‘token’ Asian kid in a small town – even I could not escape the luster of Grease in fact being the word. So this is probably the only musical where I am overly familiar with the storyline AND the music… so let’s see if the musical meets my ridiculously high expectations shall we?

So let’s start with the opening… When you have a fun nostalgic musical, the best way to kick it off would be in a similar fashion right?

Well, someone thought differently. It kicked off with a lukewarm crowd warmer of awkwardly reciting nonsensical lyrics, then the show kicked off with... a ballad! It didn’t seem like a proper start to give the show justice! It only felt like the musical properly opened and the crowd got excited when they then went into “Grease is the Word.”

As much as I hate sounding like a Negative Nancy, almost as much as using such a cliche term of Negative Nancy but Grease felt clunky. The storyline didn’t flow naturally and there were even songs that weren’t particularly good - I’m referring to "Mooning"… About a guy who is literally ‘mooning his love for you.’ In my mind, they gave up the classic yet educational ditty titled "Reproduction"  for a song about a bum.

I actually enjoyed the musical overall, but the lackluster opening left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. So now I’m building a bridge and getting over it because the second half was WAY better. So let's get on to the good stuff...

The Good Stuff

Lucy Maunder as Rizzo.

Holy Yeezus.

Her interpretation of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was phenomenal. Sure she can sing, and hit the right notes – but she had pure and utter conviction. I believed her, I was moved. This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a religious experience. Plus bonus points to her for having striking resemblance to the original character played by Stockard Channing.

Todd McKenney as Teen Angel

Yes, the Dancing with the Stars guy. Even though the definition of star is pretty vague on that show, his star quality is not. He had the pzazz and personality to own “Beauty School Dropout” (one of my fave songs from Grease). He shone bright like a diamond, possibly being head to toe in metallic silver had something to do with it.

I should mention that the time on stage for Todd McKenney and Australian Idol winner, Anthony Callea is very short lived – enough to razzle & dazzle with one song each – but that’s pretty much it. This would be the celebrity cameo of musicals.

It’s Grease

For the nostalgia alone it was worth seeing. Despite my earlier criticisms, overall I enjoyed it. So definitely still worth seeing if you’re a Grease fan or THAT person who has to see every single musical (yes, I know those people). It was good, but it’s not the best musical I've ever seen.

The Lesson

As a naive young child, I just loved the music. Evidentally, I was too stupid as a child to get the whole lesson of Grease that finally registered as a 26 year old woman as I was sitting in the theatre.

When you embark upon a romance, and the guy (Danny) treats you like crap after especially in front of his peers. To get him to be your boyfriend you (Sandy) need to change everything about yourself. The way you dress, your personality and the icing on the sexy cake? Take up the disgusting habit of smoking to look cool. Then you may live happily ever after.

Despite my clear acknowledgement of feminism now (despite being a slave to popular culture), it's the amazing soundtrack from Grease that allows me to forgive this 'subtle' message I thankfully never understood as a kid.

The End.

See It

Thanks for reading my overly long review, to check out the show for yourself...

Grease is now playing at The Sydney Lyrics Theatre at The Star until December 22, 2013. It will be heading to Melbourne on January 2, 2014 at Her Majesty's Theatre.

You can find out more about tickets here

All images are courtesy of Grease.

I attended Grease as a media guest.

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