BATS can be relied upon to produce an entertaining evening and this is no exception. I am not sure that on the (admittedly first) night that I saw the production it quite reached the standard of the company’s last production Sister Act, but that one was outstanding among amateur productions and beat a few professional ones hands down. Nevertheless, BATS have pulled it off again with this version of Grease.
I had a few favourites among the cast – Jade Hollingshead and Liam Brelsforth made a particularly good, sweet couple as Jan and Roger, and newcomer Chloe Ballard showed just the right amount of sass, anger and pain for Rizzo, plus she has a great voice – but I think what really makes this company better than many of the rest, is the way they all work together and their attention to detail.
From where I was sitting at least, every step was in place, every move was smooth, every orchestral note was in tune, every costume had been thought through, every bit of scenery was just right. They won’t have had a big budget but they had clearly worked out how to make the most of it and they must have worked hard.
A good example was in the Greased Lightning scene with Kenickie (Joe Humberstone who would suit the role of Pharoah in Joseph) and the company. Resplendent in bright red, shiny jumpsuits, they made us believe that the car Kenickie had just bought was actually the best thing on wheels while simultaneously and humorously pointing out that it really was just an old banger with stolen hubcaps, but, hey, a young man has to dream.
The show was sprinkled with more affectionate humour. For all their tough guy, mean girl acts, the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies are young, foolish and loveably incompetent. The sight of Danny Zuko (Craig Saunders) trying to impress Sandy (Rhianon Mone, another BATS newcomer) by taking part in a race, but still smoking a cigarette because that is what a T-Bird would do, summed it up. Then there is poor old Frenchy (Kirsty Bennett), the Beauty School Dropout, with her pink hair and her guardian Teen Angel (Bryn Hughes) who sings beautifully while the female ensemble dance holding large, pink powder puffs. Among them is Gary J. Myers, an inspired casting as Miss Lynch, as well as being assistant director.
This is a great show, directed by Angus Jacobs who was also choreographer, with Julie Dance as musical director.