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Grease's West End return is a gritty update with plenty of surprises for fans - a first look

11 May 2022, 12:19

By Tom Eames

Grease will be the word once again later this month, as the iconic musical returns to the West End for a special new run at London's Dominion Theatre.

While any production of Grease is always a guaranteed night of fun entertainment, this particular production promises to bring something different.

Choreographed by former Strictly judge and all-round legend Arlene Phillips, and starring Peter Andre in his full West End debut as Vince Fontaine, this adaptation of Grease will have a far grittier edge with more time added for its story.

This version will develop the T-Birds and Pink Ladies as characters, and will be far closer aligned to how the musical sounded and looked when it was first staged in 1971 by creators Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

It will also include songs that weren't used in the iconic movie version starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, including another song called 'Grease' which is not to be confused with the Barry Gibb-penned track sung by Frankie Valli.

The new musical will also feature a brunette Sandy (the biggest shock of all, surely?), played brilliantly by Olivia Moore, opposite the excellent Dan Partridge as Danny. Jason Donovan will also appear at select dates as the Teen Angel, while there'll be standout performances from Jocasta Almgill as Rizzo and Paul French as Kenickie.

Smooth was very lucky to attend a rehearsal of a few classic numbers, including 'Summer Nights' and 'You're the One That I Want', in a stage show which will largely be set inside the Rydell High gym as choreographed by Phillips and directed by Nikolai Foster. Watch a few highlights in the video above.

Peter Andre told Smooth that this new version will appeal to modern audiences, saying: "Even though a lot of things that were said back then [in the 1950s] were inappropriate by these standards – by today’s standards, they’re on a wrong on a lot of levels, the way guys treated girls.

The stars of Grease
The stars of Grease. Picture: Hugh Glendinning
The Pink Ladies
The Pink Ladies. Picture: Craig Sugden

"But actually, it still has the same message of: 'boy tries to impress girl; boy tries to act cool in front of his mates; but really, he likes the girl; the girls are kind of… all they want is to be loved. The guys, all they want to do is impress their mates.'

"It happens now. The difference is, what you notice in the script – which I notice – is that the girls actually show that they’re not pushovers. That also stands today. So I think that’s why it’s so iconic, and that’s why it stands the test of time. Because it relates to every generation. And every kid wanted to go to high school in America in the ‘50s."

Arlene Phillips added: "It’s a show about teenage angst, and therefore people remember what it’s like to be a teenager. You know, teenagers are getting younger and younger evermore.

"But I think, also, because it’s on television so many times, you could literally, I think, probably find a channel 24 hours a day that’s showing Grease. It gets into people’s DNA. So it feels familiar. It feels comforting, like a warm blanket. It feels kind of like home. You know it, but you are happy to see it again and again and again, and to return, and to just enjoy it."

Tickets are on sale now for Grease at London's Dominion Theatre until October from here.