REVIEW: Grease, Mayflower, Southampton, until Saturday, July 16.

Who needs High School Musical and all the new-fangled nonsense?

Wednesday, 6th July 2011, 10:55 pm

Grease was the word, is the word and will always be the word, brought brilliantly to life again in a terrific touring production currently in Southampton.

The story is the age-old tale of all the sillinesses and awkwardnesses which briefly stand in the way of a true love that’s always going to triumph.

But what lifts it to the very highest level is a wonderful set of songs which bring out the best in a hugely-energetic and skilful cast.

Hopelessly Devoted To You has got to be one of the greatest songs in any musical anywhere any time; You’re The One That I Want isn’t so very far behind. Ditto Summer Nights.

Wrap them all up in a tale of young love nearly going off the rails, and you’ve got a show which grabs you from the off - a bunch of sympathetic, nicely-drawn characters that you can’t help but root for whatever their little crises.

Danny Bayne (winner of ITV’’s Grease Is The Word) is terrific as Danny, the dope who nearly throws his love away through his self-conscious need to seem supercool whenever the lads are around; Carina Gillespie is every bit his equal as dowdy square Sandy who turns rock chick to get her man.

The icing on the cake comes from Ice Champion Robin Cousins as Teen Angel, five minutes of class in which he tosses a little mature reflection into the teenage maelstrom.

Only Hairspray has come remotely close to matching Grease’’s glory in recent years; on tonight’’s showing, you’’d have to say that Grease has still most definitely got the edge.

Phil Hewitt