Greased Lightning Strikes at the Capitol Theatre Sydney

Grease the Musical, now open at the Capitol Theatre Sydney, brings back the quintessential high school romance with a vibrancy that almost leaps off the stage.

Set in the 1950s, Grease centres on the unexpected reunion of summer lovers Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski at Rydell High. Their idyllic romance clashes with reality as Danny’s cool-guy facade and Sandy’s wholesome image struggle to coexist within the high school’s cliquish social circles. The T-Birds and Pink Ladies, iconic greaser gangs, play pivotal roles in their journey, embodying the era’s rebellious youth culture. Amidst the trials and transformations, Danny and Sandy must decide if their love can transcend their contrasting worlds.

Directed by Luke Joslin, the production walks a line between nostalgic reverence and contemporary reimagining, delivering an adequate performance on balance. Joslin’s direction navigates the iconic narrative with a steady hand, though sometimes it feels like opportunities for deeper emotional resonance or innovation are left unexplored.

The musical direction, helmed by Dave Skelton, showcases a polished orchestral performance that underscores the musical’s energetic highs and emotive lows. However, the new arrangements that, while interesting, leave some of the classic songs feeling somewhat hollow, missing the rich, full-bodied soundtracks that fans might expect.

Visually, the production by James Browne, encompassing set, costumes, and wig design, strives for authenticity. While moments of brilliance transport the audience to the soda shops and drive-ins of the era, other aspects fall short, with some elements reminiscent of a high school production rather than a professional theatre’s rendition of such a beloved musical.

Eric Giancola’s choreography stands out as a highlight, masterfully blending period-appropriate movements with a fresh, contemporary energy. The dance numbers are executed with precision and passion, capturing the essence of the 1950s while engaging a modern audience. Giancola’s work contributes significantly to the dynamic atmosphere of the show, embodying the rebellious spirit and youthful exuberance at the heart of Grease.

The ensemble cast brings to life the world of Rydell High with commendable skill and enthusiasm. The T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, in particular, deliver standout performances, embodying the camaraderie and complexities of their characters with flair. Tom Davis as Doody and Mackenzie Dunn as Rizzo offer depth and warmth, enriching the narrative with their nuanced portrayals. Marcia Hines, a stalwart of the Australian musical theatre scene, brings a presence that shines through despite the musical arrangements, demonstrating her undeniable talent.

In the leading roles, Joseph Spanti and Annelise Hall take on Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski with commendable commitment, infusing these iconic characters with a fresh energy and chemistry that reinvigorates their timeless love story.

Ending on a high note, the Grease Megamix is a triumphant celebration that captures the essence of the musical, inviting the audience to join in the dance and revelry. Grease at the Capitol Theatre Sydney offers a delightful evening of entertainment, weaving together moments of joy, nostalgia, and youthful exuberance that are sure to leave audiences dancing long into the night.

– The other Daniel Craig


Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig

Grease the Musical runs for two hours 20 minutes (including 20 minute interval) and plays at the Capitol Theatre Sydney through 1 June 2024. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of IP Publicity

Image credit: Jeff Busby.