Yesterday, my eight year old daughter and I were lucky enough to be guests of the Cliffs Pavilion for the first night of their run of the musical Grease. Iris and I were coming at the performance from different perspectives – she loves singing and dancing in all their forms, but was not familiar with Grease at all. I, on the other hand, am pretty much a musicalophobe, but had been forced to watch Grease on VHS about fifty times by my sister as a child.
This staging of Grease seems pretty true to that film version, as I recollect it, only touching lightly on some of the more serious themes of the story such as teen pregnancy, bullying and consent, but hitting the big musical numbers hard. The quality of the singing and particularly the dancing was good throughout – I especially enjoyed “We Go Together” at the end of the first half. Some of the over-the-top accents and cartoonish performances take a little getting used to, but overall I felt that they added to the bright and bubbly feel of the show. For me the only detraction was Darren Day playing to the gallery, but there were plenty of people in the audience who seemed genuinely pleased to see (and hear) him. This section of the crowd definitely appreciated the whole experience and were on their feet joining in with a medley of the songs at the end of the show.
If you’re thinking of taking primary school children (8 and up), I must tell you that Iris loved it – and would assume that other children her age who like music would enjoy it just as much. She was beaming from the very beginning and kept her enthusiasm going almost to the end, though was flagging a bit when we left at 10:40. Do remember though, that this is a story about teenagers behaving (moderately) badly, so if you don’t want to expose your young children to sexuality and swearing then maybe this isn’t the show for you. I wasn’t asked to explain what “lousy with virginity” or “going all the way” meant – but you might not be so lucky. What I did feel that I had to address with her on the way home was that the underlying message of the show – that you should change who you are because you are being bullied and/or to make a boy like you – is not right.
This was a good night out for both me and Iris and certainly for the majority of the audience. It was a solid performance of Grease. If you like that sort of thing, or think your children might, then you should go along.