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Grease The Musical at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Grease Is The Word For Peter Andre As Teen Angel
Grease is back in Birmingham on tour... Tell me more, tell me more, and was it love at first sight? Find out below...

Grease, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, Pete Andre, Ore Oduba, Nikolai Foster director
Grease is the word at the Hippodrome


A new updated production of Grease The Musical is on at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 24 August and adds more grit to the plot.

Grease is a well-loved classic that has been put on countless times on stage, so it's understandable that director Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director at Leicester Curve, wanted to shake things up a bit.

Refreshing it with a tougher edge to the characters to make it for modern day audiences, it's not so cheesy but also loses some of that lovable kitsch-ness which made the film a cult classic.

Grease, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, Pete Andre, Ore Oduba, Nikolai Foster director
Pete Andre makes his musical stage debut as Teen Angel


There's a glamorous cast too with Peter Andre making his stage musical debut as Teen Angel, a role he shares with Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba at different performances.

Appearing to sing just one song - Beauty School Dropout - after the interval, there's a star quality to Andre that electrifies the crowd. You can hardly hear him through the screams from the audience but he does manage to impress with some high notes. After all, Andre was a singer long before becoming a TV personality with his pop song 'Mysterious Girl'.

Oduba will fill in for four performances when Andre isn't available but there's another Strictly connection with former judge Arlene Phillips responsible for the choreography in the show. There's big impressive high energy dance numbers that bring the 'Pink Ladies', romance and rivalries at Rydell High to life.

Grease, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, Pete Andre, Ore Oduba, Nikolai Foster director
Martha Kirby plays lovestruck Sandy


What works well is adding a touch of West Side Story gang culture to Danny's group, which has inexplicably changed names from the T Birds to The Burger Palace Boys. There's an abusive cop and fights taking place instead of a car race that seem more realistic.

More depth has been added to the characters on the periphery but the Pink Ladies seem more like Mean Girls as they give Sandy a tough time and there's a lot of attention to head cheerleader Patty Simcox that doesn't really go anywhere.

Danny Zuko, played by Dan Partridge, is much harder too and dabbles with so many of the other girls that his love for Sandy isn't that convincing. His attitude makes him harder to like than the John Travolta version sadly.

Martha Kirby has an impressive voice as Sandy, particularly during 'Hopelessly Devoted To You', but the romance between her and Danny seems to take a back seat to a teenage friends coming of age story.

While I can understand most of the changes, I wasn't too sure about an altered ending where Sandy changes for Danny but he doesn't for her. I'm really not sure that was a good decision.

Grease, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, Pete Andre, Ore Oduba, Nikolai Foster director
Ore Oduba is Teen Angel at some of the performances


Ultimately, despite the changes, it's the iconic songs including 'Summer Nights', 'Greased Lightnin'', 'Hopelessly Devoted to You' and 'You're the One That I Want' that lift the show and are the highlight.

It's a big song and dance musical with great lighting effects and hilarious scenes at the High School Hop with a pervy Vince Fontaine, played by an excellent Darren Bennett.

It's good to refresh shows and although still enjoyable, all the changes didn't quite fit in with the mood of what Grease is all about. Maybe if it was a little less tough-edged, it wouldn't have been at such odds with the uplifting music.

RATING: 3.5 / 5 stars

Ore Oduba will perform on 19, 20 23 & 24 August, and all other performances of Teen Angel will be played by Peter Andre.
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Why? Relive the fun and romance of Grease on stage
When: Until 24 August 2019
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham
Cost: From 15
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