Grease (2019)

Cast:

Danny Zuko - Finn Knowles

Sany Dumbrowski - Annie Gaskelll

Betty Rizzo - Aimee Pendlebury

Frenchy - Rebecca Fairhurst

Marty - Eve Wagstaff

Jan - Grace McDivitt

Doody - Chris Bache

Kenickie - John Donachie-Ashcroft

Sonny Latierri - Conor Porter

Roger - Alfie Ignatius

Vince Fontaine - James Cleary

Cha-Cha - Lydia Heaton

Eugene Florczyk - Nathan Massam

Johnny Casino - Max Tomlinson

Miss Lynch - Erica Speakman

Patty Simcox - Aimee Lunt

Teen Angel - Billy Malone

Dancers:

Molly Bolus, Millie Ellison, Melissa Hesketh, Alicia Kamanzi, Jade McDonough, Matthew Wragg, Ella Bennett, Alicia Bibby, Alicia Cardiff, Ciara Tordoff, Ellie Turner, Ellie Wilson

Award Nominations:

  • Best Youth Production

  • Best Staging, Set & Technical

  • Best Chorus Performance

  • Best Youth Ensemble – T-Birds

  • Best Youth Ensemble – The Pink Ladies

  • Best Comedy Female – Grace McDivitt – WINNER

  • Best Comedy Male – Alfie Ignatius - WINNER

  • Best Musical Director – David Wall

  • Best Choreographer – Grace McDivitt, Lydia Heaton & Rebecca Fairhurst

  • Best Director – Rebecca McDonald & David Wall

  • Best Supporting Female – Aimee Pendlebury

  • Best Supporting Male – John Donachie-Ashcroft

NODA Review

During a visit to America in the 1950’s; Australian Sandy meets Danny at the beach and they fall in love. She is heartbroken when summer ends, but fate lends a hand – her parents decide to stay in America. She finds herself attending the same school as Danny, but he is different; he is the leader of the ‘T’ Birds, a black leather-clad gang with a reputation to maintain. Sandy is upset and seeks solace with some new friends – a girl’s club called ‘The Pink Ladies’. But her prim and proper virginal ways do not fit in ands she soon finds herself almost alone.  A change must be made; does she attempt to get her man by turning him into a jock or must she get rid of her ‘Sandra Dee’ image!

It was evident from the moment we reached our seats and saw the preset stage that a huge amount of attention to detail had been given by the Production Team. The set was perfect and used every inch of space available with an offset bedroom and a school room staged either side. What wasn’t apparent was the ‘hidden gems’ within the set!  Two folding flats fronted the ‘garage’ and the all important car... which was visually superb, easily manoeuvred and again the attention was details superb (Regd. Plate GRE45E). Behind flat two was a cafe / lunch room. Congrats to Mark Lane for designing and building the set and to Josh Duffy, Rebecca McDonald, Mick Holt, Sue and Tony Lane for painting, decorating it!  Well done guys excellent work!    

The St John Rigby College Theatre was packed to the rafters - not a seat to be had and as the band struck up the opening number ‘Alma Mater’ – Rydal’s anthem filled the room; you could feel the anticipation! I was initially concerned that, although the opening number sounded great, I felt it was a little loud and it did overwhelm some of the opening singers, but by ‘Summer Nights’....it had levelled out and thereafter complimented and supported the singers really well.

Our two leads Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski were played by Finn Knowles and Annie Gaskell respectively.  Finn gave a good performance as Danny; good accent, good diction, but I just wanted a little more characterisation... just wanted the ‘cocky’, ‘cool’, ‘strong’, ‘self confident’ ‘bad boy’ character to come to the fore a little more...but well done!  Annie also gave us a good Sandy.  Again, good diction; Annie gave us the sweet, naive, innocent character that we expect from Sandy, with a good singing voice... loved her rendition of ‘Hopefully devoted to You’... well done, young lady!

The ‘Pink Ladies’ – ‘Betty Rizzo’, ‘Frenchy’, ‘Marty’ and ‘Jan’ were played really well by Aimee Pendlebury, Rebecca Fairhurst, Eve Wagstaff and Grace McDevitt respectively.  Great individual characterisation with good accents, good diction and the chemistry between them was believable!  I’m never one to let great performances go unnoticed and although all four played their parts really well there were two that stood out... Aimee Pendlebury was ‘perfect for the role’ of ‘Rizzo’... a ‘Leader’, ‘tough’ ‘outspoken’, ‘forceful’ - you really wouldn’t want to mess this young lady around...well done!  But the stand out performance for me was from Grace McDevitt...’Jan’.  From the ‘first mouthful’, Grace made this part her own... her comedy timing was perfect, she was loud, food crazy and as a ‘double act’ with Alfie Ignatius as ’Roger’ they were excellent!  Their rendition of ‘Mooning’ was hilarious...be proud...both of you! 

The ‘T’ Birds – ‘Kenickie’, ‘Doody’, ‘Sonny Latierri’ and ‘Roger’ were again really well  played by John Donachie-Ashcroft, Chris Bache, Conor Porter and Alfie Ignatius respectively.  Again, all four created believable characters and again the chemistry was excellent. Again... two outstanding performances for me... I’ve already mentioned Alfie Ignatius, he was really well cast as ‘Roger’ the ’mischievous’, ‘jolly’, ‘prankster’ and as previously stated with ‘Jan’ they formed a great double act... well done!  John Donachie-Ashcroft was well cast as ‘Kenickie’; 2nd in command of the ‘T’ Birds. John gave me everything I was looking for in ‘Kenickie’ - ‘tough’, ‘surly’ ‘intimidating’.... well done young man, be ever so proud!

We had a number of ‘cameo’ roles’...Aimee Lunt played ‘Patty Simcox’ really well... a ‘Cheerleader’ who isn’t well liked by Rozzi. James Cleary played the ‘slick’, ‘washed up’ ‘fast talking DJ’ ‘Vince Fontaine’ really well...great clear diction!  Lydia Heaton played ‘Cha-Cha aka Charlene Digregorio, the flirtatious, sexy salsa dancer well.  Nathan Massam was well cast as Eugene Florczyk as was Erica Speakman as ‘Miss Lynch’.  Max Tomlinson played Clarence/Johnny Casino and Billy Malone played ‘Teen Angel’.

Making up the ‘ensemble’ we had Molly Bolus, Millie Ellison, Melissa Hesketh, Alicia Kamanzi, Mathew Wragg, Jade McDonough, Ella Bennett, Alicia Bibby, Alicia Cardiff, Ciara Tordoff, Ellie Turner and Ellis Watson as our dancers.

This was a good show with a good cast all of whom looked like they were having the time of their lives....so congratulations to David Wall, (Director/Producer/Musical Director), Rebecca McDonald (Director), to Grace McDivitt, Rebecca Fairhurst and Lydia Heaton (Choreography) for some great casting, some great sound and some simple yet appropriate dance routines.  What was also great was the band made up of students from the college...Keys - Jacob Riley, Guitar – Euan Jones, Guitar 2 – Jack Winstanley-Withers, Bass – Darby Pell (Guest from Hawkley Hall High School), Woodwind – Nicola Rhodes, Trumpet – Daniel Nash / Joel Whittington and Drums and Percussion – Jack Clayworth....well done folks!

Lighting was good - there were a couple of occasions when ‘actors’ were in the dark delivering lines, but that could well have been ‘actor error’....be like a ‘moth’ folks - embrace the light!  Sound was a problem I’m afraid.  The ‘personal mikes’ for a number of the actors were intermittent at best... I think it was Sandy who sang almost a full song without and Rizzo during a song was on and off so often... it did affect the performance I’m afraid....it is never easy I know, but something to be worked on!

The ‘costumes’ were in keeping with the era and perfect for the production as were the ‘props’ and enhanced the production, so congratulations to Christine and Steve Wall for their hard work.

Thank you so much for inviting my wife and I. We really did enjoy the production and we look forward to visiting you again very soon.

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All professional photographs by nickfairhurstphotographer.com