Grease (Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne)

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What do the critics think of Grease? We review the reviews.
[box]Show times Tue 8pm; Wed 1pm & 8pm; Thu-Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 3pm Book tickets[/box]

The low-down

A new production of Australia’s favourite party musical. We know the songs, we know the dance moves, and we know that in the end, the boy gets the girl, but Australians can’t get enough of Grease. This version is an amalgamation of the stage and film version, so audiences get every moment they’ve always loved. The all-star cast is led by Australian Idol contestant turned musical theatre leading man Rob Mills as Danny, and rising star Gretel Scarlett as Sandy, with cameos from Bert Newton, Todd McKenney, Val Lehman and Anthony Callea.

Our verdict 

It’s systematic. It’s certainly hackneyed. Why, it’s Greased Lightning. Again. And with a cast that, frankly, doesn’t do much to revive the ’70s stage favourite. READ OUR REVIEW

What the critics say

This production of Grease got a fairly warm reception in Brisbane, but the Sydney reviews were generally negative. Most saw it as slick, and bright, but lacking any kind of depth. The general feeling is that this version is a disappointment, but not many critics have out-and-out slaughtered it. Perhaps it’s because there’s a fair bit of money spent on this show – not just by the producers, but by the mums and dads who have forked out their hard-earned cash to give the family a fun, friendly, and familiar night out. Who wants to ruin their fun? Consensus rating: 5/10
“Director David Gilmore recreates his London production with local talent, and the ensemble singing is excellent, and the dancing, after some shabby moments early on, is even better. But Gilmore has not solved the problem of our not really caring about the outcome, and most of the humour is just sliced ham. Speaking of ham, Bert Newton is back on the boards as DJ Vince Fontaine, and Anthony Callea briefly exercises his potent larynx as Johnny Casino. It’s still fun, if not as much as it could have been.” John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
“Stephen Mahy’s turn in Greased Lightning as Kenickie and Chris Durling’s Those Magic Changes as Doody are two of the shows biggest highlights and the cameos from various stars including Bert Newton, Val Lehman, Todd McKenney and Anthony Callea are fabulous fun. The show has had a tight rehearsal period and still needs time to settle in but that won’t take too much time to happen. Grease promised to be Brisbane’s number one party musical and it delivers in spades.” Nathanael Cooper, Courier Mail
“Grease reveals itself to be the prototype jukebox musical from the get-go, with the audience encouraged to recite lyrics from a blackboard and wave during the overture. Such is the familiarity of a score that was created for the stage and expanded to become one of the most successful movie soundtracks… In the crowded market of jukebox musicals, Grease can claim to be the original release. The scene is set for a party, but some of the performances need to step up a gear first.” Cameron Pegg, The Australian
“When Grease premiered in 1971 it was a small show with attitude that took a rough, raunchy look at 1950s teens. Over the years, particularly with the advent of the much-loved film, the edges have been knocked off it and it’s become much less gritty. This latest incarnation, which originated in the UK with direction by David Gilmore and choreography by Arlene Phillips, could do with a bit more of that original grunt.” Jo Litson, Sunday Telegraph
“A nostalgia machine that seems more interested in filling seats than entertaining the people in them, this show tears through the story and barely pauses for the songs; they are snatched out of the air and gone before you even have a chance to really enjoy them – but there are plenty of bright lights and fire and shiny things that try and fool you into thinking you’re having a good time.” Cassie Tongue, AussieTheatre
“This new production, making its Australian debut in Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre, is straight from London’s West End, where it’s garnered rave reviews and full houses. John Frost’s Australian production is being referred to as ‘The No.1 Party Musical’. I, however, disagree. It’s loud, it’s bright and it’s colourful, and it’s full of rock and roll party hits, but sadly for me Grease just missed the mark. The sets are flat and uninspiring, the lighting overdone – at times using strobes just for the sake of it – and as a whole it’s rather twee.” Mark Taylor, ArtsHub


A fun night out? Maybe. But not much else.

4 responses to “Grease (Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne)

  1. The trouble with most critics is that, generally, they don’t see productions or films, from the eyes or ears of the usual audience. I don’t care what side of the hill a grape was grown on, either I like the taste or I don’t, its that simple. In theater the question for me is, did I enjoy it? If the answer is yes, I don’t need to go further and disassemble the show to find the parts that were great against other parts perhaps not so great.
    My measure is the whole experience, the theater, the sets, the actors/singers and the audience reaction, in other words, the atmosphere. So professional critics, think of the ticket buying audience, we are the reason the show is put on!

  2. Lots of negatives about this production . Would have expected some wow factor ( given the price if the tickets indicated it might be classy) . Not much thought in overall presentation and the ending was insulting. Even my 17 year old daughter thought it second rate , but still loved Millsy. And the orchestra, sorry , the band – indicated the lack of money and effort put into this bargain basement version.

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