It was always going to be problematic whether the Rotorua Musical Theatre (RMT) could successfully stage Grease - The Musical a third time around.

Could this possibly be overkill?

Problem solved, the predominantly young cast have taken the show with its 1959 setting and shimmy shaken 21st century life into it.

The 2019 production is particularly credible for the way RMT's team, on stage and off, has adapted in less than a week to its Energy Events Centre big stage setting.

Rotorua Musical Theatre's cast of Grease the musical. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua Musical Theatre's cast of Grease the musical. Photo / Supplied

Lighting was still being rigged three hours before the curtain rose on opening night.

Those in professional theatre would have found such a tight frame challenging. All credit to this city's amateurs who took it in their jiving stride.

Sure, there were first night hiccups, sound definitely wasn't as good as it should be, an issue that surely won't be too difficult to remedy.

They may not quite be John Travolta or Oliver Newton-John from the 1970s film version, but Ethan Wellington, playing male lead Danny, and Jessica McMillan as Sandy are perfect fits for the parts, obviously allocated to them on merit.

The Grease storyline's a familiar one. Danny and Sandy have a summer holiday fling, meeting up again at the start of Rydell High's school year.

Both are seniors, the age when hormones run rampant and boys fight over girls and girls fight girls who fall for the guy they've territorially marked as theirs.

It's a plot as old as time itself but translate it into the era when rock 'n roll was born and all hell breaks loose.

Rotorua Musical Theatre's cast of Grease the musical. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua Musical Theatre's cast of Grease the musical. Photo / Supplied

It's the sort of hell begging to be set to music, US lyricist Warren Case obliged, the result's numbers such as Summer Nights, Greased Lightning, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You're The One That I Want - each classics in their own right.


The RMT line up handles them with no-holds-barred fervour.

And how good they look, the blokes with their slicked back brylcreamed hair and leather jackets, the girls in peddle pusher pants and full circle skirts billowing over stiff petticoats by the score.

Many of those performing are products of RMT's youth theatre that Grease – The Musical director Natasha Benfell's so successfully nurtured.

Regardless of experience, the cast from seniors and faculty/ensemble members, have gelled into a talented team that do all Benfell and choreographer Josh McGrath have demanded of them – and then some.

With its juke box backdrop and on stage presence of "greased lightning", Danny's souped up Dodge, the setting's as authentic as any Grease production can hope to achieve.

To plagiarise the post show words of mayor Steve Chadwick this is a production that's "slick as grease". She's (grease) spot on.

- Reviewed by Jill Nicholas

WHAT: Grease - The Musical
WHERE: Energy Events Centre
WHEN: November 1-9