As you tumble out of Qudos Arena after GREASE-THE ARENA EXPERIENCE you might hear an odd sound, just in range of your hearing. It takes a while to work out that it is thousands of people humming or singing along to themselves. And it’s pretty much all ‘Born to Hand Jive’. That, after all, is the spectacular finale song of a night of thoroughly entertaining music and staging.
The production is great fun. It’s big, it’s busy and it powers through its two hours with immense energy. With a great cast on the raised stage and over 500 in the mass chorus of dancers and singers on the floor, it is vibrant and colourful.
Most of us know the beloved film rather than the rather raunchy original story but even a star-studded movie doesn’t compare to seeing something live. All the favourite characters are there, it’s very suitable for children, and your favourite songs, plus some new ones, keep your feet tapping.
Meghan O’Shea as Sandy and Damon Wade as Danny are lovely couple. O’Shea’s Sandy keeps the Australian accent of the film but gives Sandy some extra grit to stand up for herself. The wonderful mass chorus is so disciplined that their disappearance to leave Sandy alone for ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ is seamless. Just one figure in that vast space provides a really enjoyable respite from the frenetic dynamism of the show and O’Shea, in pink and blue lighting bouncing from the two mirror balls, stills the audience. The huge roar of appreciation afterwards is only one of times that the audience explodes in appreciation.
It only takes the first few bars of ‘Greased Lightnin’ ‘ for the crowd to roar in anticipation. Damon Wade is hugely enjoyed as he extols the virtues of Danny’s beaten-up wreck of a car. He has a swagger which he can maintain from centre stage to the wings which is highly comic, yet he has a sweetness about him that is really endearing when required.
Speaking of wings, Christine Anu makes a great Teen Angel and enters to massive applause. Accompanied by a fandancing entourage, her ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ is a highlight in a show of great songs. Anu knows how to play in huge stadia and is obviously a crowd favourite. As is Ruby Clark as Rizzo, who has chutzpah and sass in abundance, plus a wonderful voice for ‘Worse Things I Could Do’ . Also delightful is Bil Heit as Ms Lynch… who is simply hilarious.
Other favourite songs are ‘You’re the One That I Want’, ‘Grease is the Word’, ‘Summer Nights’ ,all done with big lighting effects, energetic performances and a crowd who is thoroughly entertained. There’s everything for the family to love in GREASE-THE ARENA EXPERIENCE, even no-alcohol sections of seating, well done on that!
And that is also a part of the fun of the show, watching the proud parents try to find their kids among the masses. Whenever those big numbers hit the stage, camera phones are raised in unison and there is lots of pointing and nudging. And it is just thrilling to see the work of these young people. When they all jump and clap in unison during ‘Born to Hand Jive’ it really is electrifying. One can see why that song is the finale, it really puts the work of the floor singers and dancers on display.
Plus, it’s hard to get the music out of your head as you head off to look for loved ones excited and entertained by a musical party that you can recommend to anyone who wants a large and live musical experience.
GREASE-THE ARENA EXPERIENCE is currently playing in Sydney as part of its national tour.