USER (15Dec04): “GREASE”
Starring Norman Bowman and Hayley Evetts
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, 14 December 2004
The Christmas show at the Alex certainly raised the roof tonight with a full house and great applause from an audience that rocked to the music of ”Grease”. Local girl Hayley Evetts gave a strong performance as Sandy and was excellent in her vocals principally “Hopelessly devoted to you” but I felt that her transition from the prim and proper Sandra Dee character to the leather clad Sandy was not quite as convincing.
Norman Bowman as (Danny) is a very able performer with West End and touring musicals experience. He makes the role of Danny his own and over the course of the evening became very popular with the audience. His singing voice appears softer than some of the past Danny’s and his performance of “Sandy” is Act 2 was certainly more melodic than belted out. A slightly taller than usual Danny he appears much more energetic and bouncy and moves well in the dance routines.
Jane Quinn once again gives a great and amusing performance as Miss Lynch and other standouts are Robbie Scotcher as Kenickie and Jamie Tyler as the “geeky” but lovable Eugene. The whole cast work well together and this pays dividends in all the productions numbers.
The choreography for this production was much tighter than on previous occasions and the ensemble numbers worked much better as a result. Resident director Jason Capewell who also plays Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel does a good job in both roles and has made this version of “Grease” a little bit more individual. All in all this is a show that will put “bums on seats” and will be very successful for the Alex and makes the shows on offer in Birmingham over Christmas and the New Year varied and entertaining.
USER (09Mar04): GREASE
Starring Ben Richards and Suzanne Carley
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, 8 March 2004
Having seen other productions of ‘Grease’ also directed by David Gilmore and with Arlene Phillips staging and choreography sadly this is the weakest to date. I am by no means against loud volume music when the occasion is the right one however to distort the very music and to obliterate the vocal tracks on virtually every company number is not my idea of how a musical should be performed. I had always until now chuckled when veteran performer Hubert Gregg recounted not having been to the West End theatre since the introduction of amplification, now I tend to see or is that hear his point!
Ben Richards (Danny) is a very able performer with great experience and he is well partnered by Suzanne Carley (Sandy) in her professional debut. Suzanne performed a creditable ‘Hopelessly devoted to you’ and luckily for her the orchestra did not drown out her vocal. Ben added his own stylistic touch to the vocals and he has a strong voice but even he was frequently drowned out.
Together Ben and Suzanne do their best in a somewhat ragged production in which it takes the full company until the final production number ‘You’re the one that I want’ to actually put the whole thing together.
Jane Quinn gives a great and amusing performance as Miss Lynch but there are few magical moments in this production in spite of it being a sell out and having been produced more successfully in the past. Generally, a disappointment.