Norton Canes High School Theatre
The Spotlight production team are staging Grease this week and the iconic film by Jacobs and Casey, featuring well-loved characters Danny Zuco and Sandra D, needs little introduction. This adaptation cleverly captures the main story lines from the movie and transfers as a brilliant, fast-paced, high energy stage musical. And the young performers from Spotlight Youth Productions have most certainly done it justice.
Directed by Charlotte Cowley and Michele Windsor, and with a most competent off-stage band conducted by Brian Hirst, the show was performed with total confidence and an awful lot of cool by the young performers who never dipped in energy and spirit - sporting wigs, layered costumes and leather jackets, all adding to the heat of the moment, which was commendable considering the current climate!
Set in the American 1950s the colourful show set was built for quick transition utilising single set pieces which left the dancers a good performance space. A nice touch was the screen and projected images that enhanced the location of the scenes and the physical scene changes in blackout were executed deftly.
Strong performances by principals and ensemble. It was lovely to see so many gorgeous, happy faces - little ones with cheeky smiles and self-assured older students with just the right amount of attitude. Some excellent characterisations - Tara Hill as Rizzo did a sterling job, retaining the Channing sultry demeanour throughout the show. Handsome Matt Windsor’s (Danny) vocal was excellent and competently accompanied by the very pretty Imogen Poole (Sandy), both well cast leads who played against each other with delightful chemistry. The good-lookin’ T Birds - Ben Walker (Kenickie) Ben Carr (Roger), William Heath (Doody), Callum Steed (Sonny), Sam Rushworth (Billy) and Kieran Banner (Bobby) entertained us with their lighthearted, school-boy angst, camaraderie, songs and slick dance routines. Pink Ladies Charlotte Ham (Frenchy), Kande Eden (Marty), Tash Pearce (Jan), Kimberley Beckett (Mary Lou), Jess Cavill (Barbara Ann) and Rebecca Cartwright (Peggy Sue) made a fabulous all-singing-all-dancing gaggle of hyper teens with dreams of boys, hair-do’s, cheeky cigarette trials, jealous moments and true friendships.
Robyn Ennis as the delightful Miss Lynch controlled the class as best she could and Rebecca Cartwright played a very pretty Teen Angel. Kieran Banner doubled up as the formidable Vince Fontaine who had the ladies swooning, Sam Rushworth owned the mic as Johnny Casino and Megan Rogers treated us to some sassy dance moves as Cha Cha DiGregorio.
Absolutely loved Lewis Kent’s portrayal of the bumbling Eugene. Great stage presence and a truly winning smile. Notable performances include the very comical Tash Pearce who competently immersed herself in her character and William Heath who I felt really connected with the audience and had a unique and very likeable upbeat confidence which I'm sure would transfer into any musical theatre production.
Congratulations to MDs Chris Allen and Ian Windsor, the team of choreographers and the set building, costume, prop and technical volunteers. A revisit of mic levels for lead vocalists against backing vocalists might be something to address but in all a good sound design and lighting scheme.
I really enjoyed every moment - the elements that made the movie so successful have been focused upon and the team’s vision really worked resulting in a great night’s entertainment. An established and talented group with a lot of love and friendship that is clearly apparent in their performances. It certainly was a Summer Night to remember!
Suitable for everyone.
Runs to 15 July with a Saturday matinee
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