×

Review Abroad Grease

Also with: Charlotte Avery, Richard Calkin, Glenn Carter, John Combe, Liz Ewing, Tamzin Outhwaite, Shane Richie, Heather Robbins, Myra Sands, Aidan Treays , Anna-Jane Casey, Robin Cleaver, Amanda Courtney-Davies, Derek Joshua Cullen, James Davies, Simon Harper, Daniel Hinchliffe, Kim Leeson, Lucy Moorby, Ben Richards, Sebastien Torkia, Nikki Worrall, Janine Davies, Sue Eastwood, Steen Young, Simon Coulthard.

With:
Danny ... Craig McLachlan Sandy ... Debbie Gibson Frenchy ... Jo Bingham Rizzo ... Sally Ann Triplett Roger ... Drew Jaymson Teen Angel ...Andrew Kennedy Vince Fontaine ... Gary Martin

Also with: Charlotte Avery, Richard Calkin, Glenn Carter, John Combe, Liz Ewing, Tamzin Outhwaite, Shane Richie, Heather Robbins, Myra Sands, Aidan Treays , Anna-Jane Casey, Robin Cleaver, Amanda Courtney-Davies, Derek Joshua Cullen, James Davies, Simon Harper, Daniel Hinchliffe, Kim Leeson, Lucy Moorby, Ben Richards, Sebastien Torkia, Nikki Worrall, Janine Davies, Sue Eastwood, Steen Young, Simon Coulthard.

Whether it’s better than ever is debatable, but “Grease” has certainly never been more overproduced and noisier than in this West End revival. On the strength of two leads with a teenage following (Australian soap star Craig McLachlan and American pop singer Debbie Gibson) and the inclusion of four songs from the successful movie version, “Grease” has emerged as the hot musical ticket of the season some two decades after Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s show began life in a Chicago trolley barn.

That first production no doubt had a knockabout charm, which is precisely the quality missing from this rather lugubriously conceived package in which every last gum-chewing aside seems carefully calculated.

The story, such as it is, is unchanged: The summer lovers Danny (McLachlan) and Sandy (Gibson) go their separate routes at Rydell High until Sandy realizes the way to a man’s biceps lies in teased hair and leather. Their classmates say things like “bite the weenie, moron,” and the resident tough-cookie-with-a-soft-heart Rizzo (Sally Ann Triplett) is revealed not to be pregnant after all, even if talk of a broken condom sends a shiver through an audience in 1993.

The show’s raison d’etre is in the musical numbers, here strenuously choreographed in high-aerobics style by Arlene Phillips. (No wonder the opening night party was at a local YMCA.)

Amid the busier routines, one real gem emerges in the first act. “Mooning” is adorably led at the school bleachers by Drew Jaymson’s Roger. The songs from the movie stir the audience on cue, as Terry Parson’s lavishly kitschy sets struggle to keep pace alongside the odd laser effect seemingly left over from this same theater’s infamous mid-’80s tenant, “Time.”

Gibson cuts no sexier a presence than Olivia Newton-John did in the film. But as teen icons from that saga of Australian suburban life go, the self-mocking, swivel-hipped McLachlan has it all over the last well-scrubbed “Neighbors” face to grace the West End: Jason Donovan in the recent revival of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” No doubt other “Neighbors” alums await packaging in future shows-as-rock concerts, but until they arrive, “Grease” will indeed be the word.

Popular on Variety

Review Abroad Grease

Production: A Robert Stigwood, Paul Nicholas and David Ian Associates presentation, by arrangement with James M. Nederlander and Apollo Leisure Group, of a musical in two acts with book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, additional songs by B. Gibb, J. Farrar, L. St. Louis, and S. Simon. Directed by David Gilmore.

Crew: Set, Terry Parsons; costumes, Andreane Neofitou; lighting, Mark Henderson. Orchestrations, Larry Wilcox. Musical supervision and direction, Mike Dixon; sound, Bobby Aitken. Opened July 15, 1993, at the Dominion Theater. $:25 ($ 37.25) top.

With: Danny ... Craig McLachlan Sandy ... Debbie Gibson Frenchy ... Jo Bingham Rizzo ... Sally Ann Triplett Roger ... Drew Jaymson Teen Angel ...Andrew Kennedy Vince Fontaine ... Gary Martin

More Film

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content