Australian Dance Reviews

‘Grease The Musical’ at the Capitol Theatre is a nostalgic journey, with a reinvented image!

The cast of 'Grease The Musical'. Photo by Jeff Busby.
The cast of 'Grease The Musical'. Photo by Jeff Busby.

Capitol Theatre, Sydney.
2 April 2024.

The Capitol Theatre in Sydney became a portal to the vibrant era of the late 1950s as Grease The Musical electrified the stage. Directed by Luke Joslin and presented by John Frost for Crossroads Live, this production of the beloved classic transported audiences to the halls of Rydell High School, where the lives of ten working-class teens unfolded amidst the backdrop of rock and roll.

Led by an all-Australian cast, the show boasted rising stars Joseph Spanti as Danny, Annelise Hall as Sandy, Keanu Gonzalez as Kenickie, and Mackenzie Dunn as Rizzo. Notable performances were also delivered by Patti Newton as the beloved Miss Lynch, Jay Laga’aia as Vince Fontaine, and the incomparable Marcia Hines as Teen Angel.

From the moment the curtains rose, the audience was swept away into a world of high school romance, rebellion, and the infectious energy of rock ‘n’ roll. The iconic soundtrack, featuring timeless hits such as “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re The One That I Want,” stirred the soul and had the crowd tapping their feet in unison.

But the journey of Grease stretches far beyond the confines of the theatre walls. The roots of this beloved musical trace back over four decades, before it made its Broadway debut in 1972. Inspired by the post-Second World War economic boom and the rebellious spirit of youth culture in the 1950s, creators Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey crafted a story that resonated with audiences worldwide. Drawing from their own experiences and observations, they crafted a tale of love, friendship and self-discovery set in a time of greasy hair, roaring engines, and the infectious sounds of rock ‘n’ roll.

In 1987, Grease came alive on screen with an iconic film adaptation starring John Travolta as Danny and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy. The film’s success catapulted Grease into the annals of cinematic history, solidifying its status as a cultural phenomenon cherished by generations. The transition from screen to stage brought about some challenges in execution, yet the heart and soul of Grease remained intact. 

While the essence of Grease remained present in this production, some elements struggled to capture the same magic experienced on film. Transitions between scenes felt – at times – sluggish, lacking the seamless flow necessary to maintain momentum. However, the performers breathed life into their characters to bring the story alive.

Joseph Spanti captured the essence of Danny Zuko with nuanced charm and vulnerability, while Annelise Hall’s captivating vocals shone – despite occasional lapses in embodying the essence of Sandy’s persona. Keanu Gonzalez’s portrayal of Kenickie was powerful, and Mackenzie Dunn stole the show commanding the stage with the fiery spirit of Rizzo, particularly shining in her emotional rendition of “There are worse things I can do.” 

The dance numbers, choreographed with flair by Eric Giancola, injected fresh energy into the production, utilising the levels of the set design carefully considered by James Browne to great effect. While some moments could have benefitted choreographically from tighter unison and direction, standout numbers like “Greased Lightnin’” and “Beauty School Drop Out” elevated the performance to new heights.

In the performance of “Born To Hand Jive,” stronger cohesion in spacing and direction blocking, alongside the strategic use of spotlights, could have elevated the impact of this number. These elements would have heightened the audience’s engagement, drawing them further into the critical moments of the scene.

“You’re The One That I Want,” a pivotal scene in the film, fell short of its cinematic counterpart on stage. The energy, nuanced poise and pacing lacked the dynamism that made the film version so memorable, and Sandy’s entrance failed to create the anticipated impact. 

Despite transitional lags and lax energetic essence in movement execution, the plot and storyline remained a strong anchor, reminding audiences that Grease is more than just a musical — it’s a joyous celebration of youth, love and rebellion that creates an atmosphere in the theatre like nothing else.

Grease The Musical at the Capitol Theatre is a nostalgic journey, with a reinvented image, that will leave you singing and dancing long after the final curtain call. So, grab your leather jackets and poodle skirts and join the fun — it’s electrifying!

Grease is now playing at Capitol Theatre Sydney. To book tickets, visit

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa.

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