Grease, The Q

31 Jul

Grease – the classic 70s broadway hit and film – arrived in Queanbeyan on Wednesday night, bringing clever costume designs, the well-known songs and the blatant sexism.

Say what?

I’ve had a long, fraught relationship with the musical as I’ve revisited it over the years. On the one hand, I love it. The songs are (mostly) fantastic. The music is great. The cast and costumes are great. The choreography is great. And, from a young age, the message was apparent that Sandy was actually pretty annoying and just was too hard on Danny; she was so much more likeable when she just relaxed, took up smoking, and made her voice a breathy one (and I couldn’t wait for that end of school party once I finished year 12, either). In my pre-teens it occurred to me that a whole lot of the behaviour between the characters in the movie was actually incredibly cringeworthy, or – more accurately – cruel. In my early teens (okay I’ve seen it heaps of times) a whole lot more sexual references finally clicked for me and, in the middle of singing along to songs, I found myself largely horrified about the messages being promoted.

The horror and the discomfort hasn’t changed. And Grease hasn’t changed, either – it’s still hugely popular and a theatrical feast which is exactly why I was drawn back to it. So, while I could write weeks of blog posts analysing the politically incorrect, sexist and otherwise questionable messages, this is a review blog and thus: here’s the review.

It’s no secret I like The Q. It’s a good theatre that’s roomy and has found the balance in being a professional operation that’s relaxed, and Grease – a high school musical about the angsty relationship between Sandy (Rosanna Boyd) and Danny (Marcus Hurley) – finds a welcome home in this space. The set is anchored by two bleachers and two black blocks on which Kenickie’s (Liam Downing) famous car Greased Lightning digitally appears, allowing the cast to sit ‘in’ it.

From the moment she appears on this first day of school, Pink Ladies leader Rizzo (Vanessa de Jager) steals the show. As Summer Nights begins and the gals fawn about new-girl Sandy, Rizzo’s as much part of the chorus but still maintains her disdain without detracting from the song. Any time she’s on stage, I find myself watching her closely and it’s a faultless performance: big voice, even bigger sass and – dare I say it – an even better Rizzo than the film version. Even when a scene’s attention is focussed elsewhere, de Jager is the most in sync, the most on point. Grease is worth the trip to Queanbeyan to see this performance alone.

After Sandy and her beach beau Danny sing to their school gangs about what a special summer they each had and how they never expect to see the other again, the Pink Ladies catch on that Sandy’s talking about Danny and push her in front of him. They’re excited to see each other at first, but then Danny realises he has appearances to maintain and brushes Sandy off.

Sandy’s best (only?) new friend, Frenchie, invites her to a girls night in where Sandy’s again subjected to Rizzo’s standards – Sandy’s much too virginal for Rizzo to ever get along with Sandy.

But Rizzo and Sandy have one thing in common: they both have fickle relationships with the men they’re keen on, and Rizzo ends up at the school dance with Danny instead of her man Kenickie, and Sandy ends up with, well, no one. Nevermind. The scene – just after the intermission – is a fantastic one and the dance sequence with Danny and Cha Cha (after Rizzo ditches Danny again for Kenickie – like I said, fickle) is simply good fun to watch.

Rizzo gets a scare and takes it out on Sandy – who’s only trying to help – in an epic rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do but fortunately this is simply a plot device to encourage Sandy to lose all of her principles and put on some leather pants and convince Danny they belong together! Spoiler: there’s a happy ending.

In a musical that’s as much about the filler storylines as it is about Sandy and Danny, they are complementary leads and match each other in vocal range and chemistry. Roger (Dave Collins) and Jan (Sophie Hopkins) are standout supporting cast members with even better chemistry and strong stage presence presence – you can guarantee early on that any scene with them in it is going to be a good one.

The choreography and both the big lead and chorus singing is tight against a musical backdrop which – while always recovering quickly – is at times a half-beat delayed or fumbling. It’s enough to distract me before the composition in front of me brings me back.

Grease is fun, you’ll know the songs whether you’ve seen it before or not (though why every production insists on keeping the interminably bad Beauty School Drop-Out is beyond me), and it’s true to the film version we know and love. And, in some cases, it’s even better. We start believing now that we can be who we are.

Grease is the word: 8pm-10.15pm (with intermission), Thursday, 30 July

Where: Conventionality belongs to yesterday aka The Q (Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre)
Cost: $47 for subscribers; $57 for non-subscribers (chang chang changity chang shoo bop that’s the way it should be?)Value for money: It’s electrifyingWe got to be what we feel factor: Hopelessly devoted to youTell me more, tell me more: Tickets can be purchased via The Q website. It’s on until 15 August.

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One Response to “Grease, The Q”

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  1. traiteur rabat - September 2, 2017

    Traiteur Rabat Regal; Traiteur de ronome au Maroc

    This is my expert

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