Peachy Keen Jellybean – Grease the Musical – Cardiff

Cardiff, Lifestyle, UK

Dan Partridge as Danny & Louis Gaunt as Kenickie (front) and the T-Birds in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel HarlanMartha Kirby as Sandy and Dan Partridge as Danny in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel HarlanLtoR Natalie Woods as Jan, Eloise Davies as Frenchy & Tara Sweeting as Marty in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan

Picture the scene. I’m thirteen, studying for one of my singing grades and my tutor picks ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You” as one of my exam pieces. I spend almost every waking hour listening to Olivia Newton-John perform it in the 1978 movie. Whilst studying for my exam, the guy in my class that I think is pretty lovely tells me that I look like a boy and have a bowl cut (I did). I now not only love Sandra Dee, I think I am her. I watch that scene of her singing by the pool and I wallow over my childhood crush. A heartbroken and pitiful teen. Thank god fourteen years later I’m far more Rizzo than Sandy…

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This week, I kindly got invited along to the performance of Grease the Musical at the Wales Millenium Centre. Now, if like me your memories of the 70s classic are watching it on a Sunday afternoon with your parents and later singing the songs into your hairbrush in front of a mirror, I doubt you would know that Grease was actually a stage musical first. Shock. I know! I was as shocked as you. What do you mean Sandy is actually brunette?! What do you mean there are MORE Grease songs!? The outrage that no-one told me this before.

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I only found out that the Musical actually preceded the film as I gulped down a large glass of red in the theatre bar beforehand but as soon as the curtain lifted and the stage was revealed, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed, regardless of any differences.

Grease the Musical is everything that the movie is. It’s fun, kitsch, tongue in cheek and packed full of the most iconic songs to ever hit the silver screen, with a few extras thrown in for good measure. This is no Sandy and Danny show though, sure, the main storyline still has them at the centre of it, but, with standout performances from Rizzo (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) Kenickie (Louis Gaunt) and Jan (Natalie Woods) you find yourself more invested in their storylines rather than the post-summer fling genre that we have all come to know (and love).

Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky (Rizzo) in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan (1)Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky (Rizzo) in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan

The musical had a lot of qualities that I felt the movie simply didn’t. Despite being almost fifty years old, there is a lot of grit behind the storyline. The plot focuses more around the incessant need to fit in at all costs, bullying and other pressures that teens today still face. I have always adored Stockard Channing’s rendition of “There are worse things I could do”, who doesn’t, but when McCaulsky started singing, almost directing her words towards Sandy, you feel her pain, you start to contemplate just how hard this character works to fit in and the impact it can hold on a person. Something that I know many of us can relate to, especially in the world of social media. Her rampant sexuality is paramount, it oozes out of McCaulsky’s performance in every way. The way she walks, speaks, the way she sidles up to some of the main male customers or shuns others that aren’t in favour. In many ways, this performance, despite still being an All-American bubblegum setting, is incredibly modern.

There are parts of the show that tear at your heartstrings; Jan and Roger performing “Mooning”, Sandy (Martha Kirby) watching on as Rizzo (McCaulsky) teases her in “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee”, but Rydell High’s high octane, free-spirited group of teens are still serving up pure cheese and boy is it served up well. As the curtains roll and the cast burst immediately into Frankie Valli’s “Grease” it is hard to not be blown away with the performance – Sharp dance moves, bright fifties costumes and Rydell High in huge neon lights. It’s simply electrifying.

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A huge surprise for me personally was Darren Bennet’s performance as both Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine. As Fontaine, he is the eccentric, high energy, slightly sleazy radio DJ we expect from watching the movie, his performance during the Rydell Halloween Ball is frantic and a little wild, so he plays Fontaine perfectly. Making a return on stage as the pretty in pink Teen Angel, in a set that looked like the inside of my dream had exploded, Bennett gets right into “Beauty School Dropout” and its a performance that is something quite special, for me, I kind of forgot about Frenchie!

Much like the movie, you simply won’t be disappointed by the musical, it is everything we need in our lives, it’s bright, it’s fun and it’s a wonderful escape from what is a very grey UK right now! Today and tomorrow will be the last performances in the Wales Millenium Centre Cardiff but the cast will be popping up all over the UK in 2020 and it is certainly worth the journey.

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To purchase the last remaining tickets for the Cardiff showings you can use the WMC website.

I was invited along to the performance of Grease the Musical at the WMC but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Club Tropicana, Perms and Neon Scrunchies.

Cardiff, Lifestyle

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I may be a 90’s baby (just!) but you’re a fool if you think I’m not a sucker for an 80’s hit and a perm shoved into a Day-Glo scrunchie. This week, the outrageously camp and hilariously funny musical romantic-comedy, Club Tropicana is at the Wales Millenium Centre starring X Factor winner Joe McElderry and ex-Sugababe Amelle Berrabah. Joe McElderry plays Holiday Rep Gary who delivers each line unabashedly, hand on hip, with a cheeky wink and a fierce sashay.

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Club Tropicana, not just a hit for Wham!, is a slightly shabby Spanish holiday resort vying for the highly coveted Best Hotel Award and what ensues is 2 hours of your favorites 80s tunes, outrageous perms and some very very cheeky humour. The star of the show was undoubtedly Kate Robbins, Mother of Britain’s sweetheart of the moment Emily Attack, with her Manuel from Fawlty Towers style performance in the character of Consuela the Spanish House Maid. Comedy clearly runs in the family because Kate had the entire audience belly-laughing with her deliberately tawdry Spanish accent and her rather rude ‘signs’. In a cute little nod to Cardiff, she dresses as Shirley Bassey in one scene, references Ely in another and leaves us all spluttering all over again.

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This show will have you laughing until it hurts, dancing up out of your chair and singing ABC’s Look of Love for at least the next week but on top of all that, it also gave me a huge hankering for some major throwback material. So, inspired by the showstopping cast of Club Tropicana Musical and some showstopping outfits here are my top 4 fashions that I gladly welcome back into 2019 (by Delorian of course).

1. Blazer & high waisted jeans

This is an 80s trend I am more than happy to see the return of, made truly iconic by the late Princess Di. We may have left the huge shoulder pads firmly in the Dynasty loving days but a good structured blazer and a pair of high waisted jeans is a surefire combo. Go for a mom jean cut for that extra 80s flair.

2. Monochrome Power Suits

Wedding guest? Power suit. Work meeting? Power suit. Going out-out? Power suit. There is nothing this 80s trend cannot prepare you for. Go for a cute pastel or neon-bright to really rock this trend. Asos have some lovely options like this.

3. Polka dots

If you haven’t seen THAT Zara dress yet then where have you been!? If you are hot for the spot then you know this trend is well and truly back. Combine this print trend with another big 80s trend, puff sleeve blouses and you are on to a winner. This polka dot shirt does the job for you and combines the two in one sheer stunner.

4. Graphic tees

The uniform of any eighties supermodel worth her salt. Understated, cool and punching a message to the people, this trend really hit the headlines with British designer Katherine Hamnet’s 1983 campaign.

Some of you may not be familiar with the political “58% DONT WANT PERSHING” slogan tee but you certainly will be with her ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ design that Wham! famously donned. Graphic tee’s may be a little less political nowadays but In The Style are leading the way with their fab Pride and female empowerment tees. 

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If you too want a large, cheesy dose of eighties nostalgia then Club Tropicana Musical is at the Wales Millenium Centre August 13th-17th. Tickets can be purchased from their website or the box office. Use promocode: CLUBFAN to get your tickets for just £20.

I was invited to watch Club Tropicana by the Wales Millenium Centre however all thoughts and reviews of the show are my own.