Grease is the word at King's College
This year saw the turn of the fabulous fifties-era musical, Grease take centre stage. Celebrating 40 years since it first hit theatres and then the big screen, to become a much-loved musical/film, Grease is still relevant to audiences today – young and old. It captures the spirit of the era, but tells a story that transcends decades: love; rebellion; identity; growing up; self-discovery; things everyone can relate to. It provides that sense of escapism that we all enjoy and often crave in our busy lives in 2018, and it showcases perfectly the fifties-feel music that is so popular and nostalgic.
Across four nights at the end of term, our King’s College Theatre was transformed into Rydell High, taking audiences back to the summer nights of 1950s America. Following the lives of a group of teenagers in their last year of high school, much of the story focuses on the romance of Sandy (played by Flora Keeling) and Danny (played by Will Smale). Audiences looked on as Sandy and co journeyed through the highs and lows of teenage life, and watched her transformation from the new girl next door into the sassy siren who struts her stuff at the end of year school carnival.
The musical is full of iconic moments, including Siji Abere’s Kenickie and the T-Birds tinkering with a car and delivering a cracking rendition of Grease Lightening.
Each of the main cast really made the characters their own, and the result was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining performance.
At the Friday night show, audience participation was encouraged, with many dressing up in homage to their favourite characters. Everyone was given a song sheet and a goody bag jammed with sweets. There was even a tiny battery-powered tea-light that was later used, during slower songs, to recreate the waving of a cigarette lighter often held aloft at music concerts. The effect was excellent, with the audience holding up their ‘lighter’ in the darkness, swaying from side-to-side to the music!
Jimmy Dufosee and George Symonds were fantastic hosts, warming up the ‘crowd’ with vocal exercises and giving humorous instruction throughout.
A highlight was the creative way in which Technical Manager Chris Hoad recreated the drive-in scene on stage. To many, the recognisable face of former King’s pupil Lorcan Cudlip-Cook – who had been secretly drafted to create snippets of film characterising actors in the vein of Humphrey Bogart and Alan Ladd – added to the scene, and prompted much laughter.
Commenting on this year’s performance, Head of Drama, Harriet Agg-Manning said: “Every year a pupil begs me to do Grease. I have always been reluctant but I was never sure why … the pressure to recreate it perhaps!? When I saw it was the 40th anniversary, I thought why not. I love the fifties era and have thoroughly enjoyed directing Grease. However, the greatest joy comes from working with the pupils at King’s – they are so talented and hardworking and I have treasured every minute of working on this production with them.”
A special mention should be given to Fourth Form pupil Louis Benneyworth, who demonstrated such confidence and command as he conducted the band. Our chorus line, cast, crew and musicians were made up of pupils from all years, showcasing the very best of music, drama and performing arts at King’s College.
Published on: Thursday, January 1, 1970