Presenting the first production in The Edge, coupled with the ambitious decision to take on household name musical, Grease, put this daring cast under pressure to deliver; they did so with ease.
Set in ‘50s America, Grease tells the unlikely romance of greaser Danny Zuko (Luke Waddon) and shy Sandy Dumbrowski, (Suzanne Evans) who’s surprise appearance at Rydell High jeopardises Danny’s reputation as a ladies man. Following the teenage lives of the T-birds and Pink ladies provides aspects of humour, compassion and pure entertainment.
From the outset the sheer quantity of talent in the cast was obvious. Not restricted to the many leading roles, the chorus proved to be the backbone to the musical with strong vocals and effortless diversity. Shakin’ At The High School Hop exposed some awkward male footwork, but like every big dance number revealed lead choreographer, Samantha Herriot’s genius. Asking a huge, amateur cast to master multiple challenging and exhilarating routines had Sam feeling “really frickin’ shaky” at curtain up, but other than the shaky curtain withdrawal she had nothing to fear.
Scene changes could have been smoother at times, but any thumb twiddling was soon forgotten when the T-birds and chorus pulled off the smoothest Greased Lightning transformation imaginable. Complete with tricks, flips and the best use of the wheelbarrow dance move since junior school sports day, the Greased Lighting scene was a spectacle that really showed off the genuine brotherhood of the T-birds. BUSMS chair, Tom Burgess, captured the comical and awkward yet sensitive nature of Doody with panache, engaging in undeniable bromance with joker of the cast, Aaron Hickman, who clearly had a scream playing loveable prankster, Sonny. Front man Luke Waddon as Danny Zuko used his past National Theatre experience to deliver a self-assured performance, presenting both the arrogant and tender sides to the character with equal proficiency.
Not outshone by the boys, the Pink Ladies along with Heather Kirk as a befittingly irritating Patty Simcox, shook off first scene nerves to deliver superb performances. With strong vocals individually, the girls grew in confidence as a group where they truly supported each other. Suzanne Evans showed competence in switching between naïve Sandra Dee and raunchy Sandy in You’re The One That I Want, where she was unfazed by a few mic glitches to assert herself as a first year to watch.
Charles Craven’s BUSMS debut as the stereotypical geek, Eugene, highlighted the huge promise for future productions by this relatively inexperienced cast. Perfecting a slapstick type style delivered with unmatched consistency, Craven’s deliverance shone through even amongst the more leading roles.
This high energy, well-rehearsed performance made Director Olivia Facer’s aim to ensure that the audience had as much fun as they did possible. Clearly influenced more by the film adaptation than the grittier Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey original, the performance was a real crowd pleaser without coming across as a directive cop-out, largely due to the infectiously enthusiastic atmosphere created on stage that delivered the impact performance the society needed to well and truly arrive in the new setting. It was a joy to see the Edge being used for it’s true purpose and not purely to show unprecedented prejudice against lefties with the pathetic fold-away desks. BUSMS set the bar for student art societies high tonight, silencing anyone who grumbled that the Edge wouldn’t be fully utilised by this sport obsessed university, but above all put on a deservingly sold out show.
Tickets for Grease are now sold out.
Photo credits: Hugh Wren