Review: SUSU Showstoppers Presents 'Grease'

Grease was Showstoppers’ chance to show off its new talent in a well-known musical favourite, which automatically meant that the bar was set high. It’s a shame they didn’t quite […]

three stars

Grease was Showstoppers’ chance to show off its new talent in a well-known musical favourite, which automatically meant that the bar was set high. It’s a shame they didn’t quite reach it.

The main issue with the performance was something out of Showstoppers’ hands. The script is poor, leaning on awful, which didn’t give the cast a lot to work with. There was no character development other than the blindly obvious transformation of Sandy, and the plot is lacking. However, this production keeps the movie classics as well as the less known musical numbers.

The cast on the whole were good, but something unusual for most performances was their energy, which peaked in the first act and plummeted very quickly in the second. It’s a shame to see a cast start off with bundles of enthusiasm and then see it diminish after a 20 minute interval.

This isn’t true for Ellie-Rose Fowler (Jan) whose excellent use of facial expressions was a joy to see, and Phoebe Judd (Frenchy) whose performance replicated that which we all know from the film. A special mention must go to Ben Willcocks (Kenickie) who never seemed to tire on stage, and could even be described as being somewhat over enthusiastic at points!

The Cast of Grease - Copyright Oli Crump

The Cast of Grease – Copyright Oli Crump

Vocals were strong and ensemble numbers were a delight to watch, but solos were often hard to pick up over the band and it’s a shame that the talent of the cast was lost here. It goes without saying that Daniel N’Guessan-Lopez (Doody) has a stunning voice and his performance of ‘Those Magic Changes’ was a true highlight. James Paton (Teen Angel) showed great promise, although I’m not sure I agree with his characterisation. He was often too sassy which detracted from the pure quality of his voice.

My favourite performance of the night goes to Honor Saunders (Sandy) who sang ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ perfectly. The only query musically was the random points in the second act where the band cut off abruptly at the end of songs causing laughter amongst the audience, which I am sure was not intentional.

Teaching challenging choreography to a cast of 24 when some of the cast had never danced before is no easy feat, and this is where Grease succeeds. Hannah Cann and Immy Tantam did a wonderful job with the cast and I was extremely impressed.

Greased Lightning - Copyright Oli Crump

Greased Lightning – Copyright Oli Crump

I was somewhat confused by the set. The beige coloured brick work was bland and, while costumes were colourful, I would have liked to see a set which complemented this. While bleachers were a necessary part of the set, they took up a lot of room and made space uneven during company numbers. The famous Greased Lightning car was great to see and the tech was okay overall given the crew for this show were made up of StageSoc’s freshers.

One final thing to raise is a pointer to the production team. While you may be proud of your cast it is very important to consider your audience during applause. Wooing after every song and when somebody succeeds in cracking a joke on stage can alienate your audience. I often felt awkward and am sure many other audience members did too. In future, take your applause from the mood of the audience.

This is definitely a show to see. If you love the movie, you’ll find it hard not to sing along during the show and songs will be stuck in your head for days afterwards. A positive start to the year for Showstoppers.

Did you see Showstoppers’ Grease? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!