Imagine being transported back to 1959 and being in High School and all that was associated with that time. Well, Beaumaris Theatre Company definitely did that last Friday night on their opening night of their production Grease. They even had a vintage car parked right by the front doors, which was a very nice touch, and the front of house staff were all dressed in the 1950’s style.
The creative teams use of the space in the small, yet quaint theatre was very well executed.
Director Debbie Keyt definitely mentioned in the program she had passion for the piece and this was definitely shown, as all the story line was easy to follow and the chemistry between the characters was evident. Keyt’s use of the space was superb. Even within the limited space of the actual theatre, Keyt managed to not disappoint in such iconic scenes as ‘Greased Lightning’, ‘Beauty School Drop Out’, and ‘You’re The One That I Want’.
Choreography was very tight, well planned, and it showed that hours and hours of rehearsing was done to perfect such numbers as the ‘Shakin’ At the High School Hop’ and ‘Born to Hand Jive’. Choreographer Camilla Klesman definitely kept true to the piece and the moves created certainly went with the era.
Musical direction from Rhonda Vaughen was terrifically done, and it was clear that the cast really listened to each other when it came to the harmonies, for they were executed brilliantly. The solo performances were very well done, leaving you wanting more. At times, the music was slightly overbearing with the vocals, but I do put this down to opening night nerves.
Ash Cooper was a suitable choice for the leading male role of Danny Zuko, as his vocal ability was ‘flawless’ and he was very comfortable with his vocal range. However, at times, it did feel like he was a little lost on stage, but this could have been to do with those dreaded opening night nerves.
Amy Gridley in the role of Sandy Dumbrowski really did portray that wholesome, girl-next-door type of character. Her rendition of ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ was angelically performed, and it really gave you understanding of her character and the relationship she has with Danny. Gridley connected with all the characters perfectly, and had great chemistry with Cooper.
Two stand outs for me from the supporting cast were Kate Seinfield as the light-headed, good-natured Frenchy, as she reminded me so much of the role made famous by Didi Conn in the 1978 Movie, and Josh Pratt as the gullible Doody – his performance of ‘Those Magic Changes’ is definitely something I will remember.
Sue Hand’s performance as Miss Lynch perhaps lacked some conviction as she had difficulty holding an American accent, and she often broke into an Australian accent, and that detracted from her performance.
The costumes were very suitable and certainly fitted well within the story line and era. The infamous T-Bird Jackets and Pink Lady Jackets were created with precision and showed great detail. In fact, all costumes matched the characters they need to portray. I believe Beaumaris Theatre Company is lucky to have Jenni Osburn as their costume designer.
Sound was at times broken and distracted the audience, however I am sure this will be improved as the season progresses.
Lighting also had some minor issues, with the direction of the lighting at times blinding for the audience and took away from being able to see the performance, but the majority of the time the lighting was executed brilliantly and effectively.
Set design by Pietro Giordano was cleverly done and managed to fit all aspects of the show within the space. As the space was limited by height and width, I am amazed at what they were able to achieve in such a small space.
If you haven’t already got your tickets, I recommend heading over to the Beaumaris Theatre Company’s website and book now, as you will be leaving the theatre singing your favourite song from this hit musical.