Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Grease was the word

I was surprised when my mother suggested we go and see Harvest Rain Theatre Company’s latest production of Grease. When we’d sat down to watch the movie together years ago she’d spent the whole 22 minutes scoffing at the idea that John Travolta was 18.

The conversation ran something like this:

“Kinda surprised you wanted to see this – I mean, you hated the movie.”
“I’ve seen the movie?”
“Yes, years ago. You thought it was ridiculous they had such old actors playing 17 year olds. “

And about 10 minutes later...

“FAME. That’s it, I thought we were seeing FAME. Both have singing and dancing. What are we going to again?”

I’m glad to say that even with the slight confusion, Mum still had a great night and so did I.

I hadn’t been to a Harvest Rain production in many, many years. The last show I saw was ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which for me didn’t work because the beast just wasn’t...beasty. He couldn’t be, he was a guy in a headdress.

So following on from an experience oh so many years ago, I was happily impressed by the professionalism and quality of Harvest Rain’s Grease. There was so much good stuff going on, not just with the actors and the songs, but the production itself was really well put together – good use of the set, good costumes and props. Plus there was a live band, which really makes a show – all working together to make a show that I think really demonstrates the high quality of theatre in Brisbane.

The number of the night for me was easily ‘Beauty school drop-out’ in act 2. Funnier than the movie version, with added excess and a fabulous gospel-choir chorus, it rather eclipsed many other ‘bigger’ numbers, even the finale. Doodie’s first-act solo ‘What’s that playing on the radio?’ came a close second, and that’s even putting aside the slight stage-crush I developed on Doodie.

Other highlights included the big group scenes, Rizzo and Frenchie’s selection of wigs. Though Kenike’s side burns did wierd me out a little, even from row I.

Poor Hannah King playing Sandy, did a decent job with a boring role. Let’s be honest – Sandy has the least personality of all the Grease characters and really is a kind of annoying goodie-two-shoes. Blake Testro as Danny had some real pizazz and the rest of the cast – all those kids with names ending in ‘ie’ or ‘y’ - were excellent. The ‘Mooning over you’ duet between Putzie and Jan was very funny and one of the additional songs you get in a stage-show-of-the-movie-musical.

I work in youth arts and with my work-hat on, I was thrilled to be seeing a production with such a large cast of young, talented local actors, dancers and singers.

I never would have gone to see it if my Mum hadn’t suggested it, but I’m glad I did. It was a really fun night out and I will definitely be going to see more Harvest Rain productions.

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