Robert Tanitch reviews Grease at the Dominion Theatre, London

Jim Jacobs and Warren Caseys Fat It premiered in 1971 and after 3,388 performances on Broadway in 1978 became the most successful musical of all time.

John Travolta played the narcissistic gang leader and heartthrob, a grooming, strutting stud with bryl cream. Olivia Newton-John played a stiff and orderly Goody Two Shoes who didn’t smoke, drink or sleep.

High school musical comedies have always been popular since the 1930s when they typically starred the nice Mickey Rooney and the nice Judy Garland.

Fat takes a nostalgic look at the 1950s when things weren’t so sane. It was the age of leather jackets, balloon skirts, stiff quiffs, and bob haircuts, an era when children had to decide who would be their model. Would it be Sandra Dee or Elvis Presley? Would they be square or cool?

Since the 1978 film, there have been numerous stage versions. Fat is now back at the Dominion, which ran 236 performances from 1993-1996.

This production, directed by Nikolai Foster, draws on stage and film versions. The stage is loud and colourful. The lighting is often blinding. The plot is weak. There’s too much talking, too much yelling. The Dominion is a barn of a theater. The show is massively amplified and it’s not always clear who is speaking.

Don Partridge and Olivia Moore star. Moore is away from the stage too much time for them to have any real contact and for anyone to take care of them.

Jocasta Almgill makes an impression There’s the worst things I could do. Peter Andre stars in a supporting role played by Vince Fontaine. One of the best moments is the vocals from Noah Harrison and Mary Moore mooning.

I enjoyed most the energetic dedication of Arlene Phillips’ choreography, everyone waving their legs and hands, especially in Oiled Lightning and Tremors at high school hop.

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Robert Tanitch reviews Grease at the Dominion Theatre, London

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