Hopeless devotees of the classic 1978 film are in for a treat with the original production of Grease and a talented fresh new cast now playing one of the region’s most iconic venues.

Set in Chicago 1959, leather-clad greaser Danny Zuko and girl-next-door Sandy Dumbroski are unexpectedly reunited after a summer romance when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year.

It is hard not to constantly refer to the beloved film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, but the stage show actually started its run in the Windy City in 1971 before moving to Broadway the following year, where it received seven Tony Award nominations.

The Northern Echo: Marley Fenton and Hope Dawe as Danny and Sandy Marley Fenton and Hope Dawe as Danny and Sandy (Image: Marc Brenner)

The T-Birds were originally called the Burger Palace Boys The T-Birds were originally called the Burger Palace Boys (Image: Marc Brenner) While the characters and dialogue are recognisable in this, the latest production, the tone is somewhat darker than the bubblegum-flavoured Hollywood slice of Americana audiences are more familiar with.

It is more visceral and grittier, with more attention to challenging social themes of the time such as juvenile delinquency and what it meant to be part of a new social demographic, a teenager, in the post-war golden age of rock n roll.

Threads of bullying and peer pressure, sex, sexuality and violence, run throughout but ultimately, Grease is a story of youthful exuberance and, ultimately, love and friendship.

The Northern Echo: Hope Dawe as Sandy with her new friends Hope Dawe as Sandy with her new friends (Image: Marc Brenner)

The Northern Echo: The famous 'Sandra D' sleepover scene The famous 'Sandra D' sleepover scene (Image: Marc Brenner)

Danny, played impressively by Marley Fenton, has more depth and his insecurities as a working-class boy with limited options but plenty of ambition are encapsulated in How Big I’m Gonna Be.

It is one of the several numbers from the original score that will delight audiences hearing them for the first time, along with Freddy, My Love – Marty’s song to her marine sweetheart who is serving with the US Navy overseas.  

It took a little while to get used to some of the ropier American accents – I did wonder where some of the cast were supposed to be from – and to settle into the show’s format, which chops up the order of songs most people will be expecting.

But by the time Kenickie, not Danny as in the film, leads the explosive Greased Lightnin’ about his four-wheeled fantasy, toes are tapping and heads are nodding.

The Northern Echo: Burning up the quarter mile with the cast of Grease Burning up the quarter mile with the cast of Grease (Image: Marc Brenner)

Sublime choreography is by former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips who brings the stage alive with an enchanting explosion of colour to the pulsing rhythm of modern music’s early dawn.

Born to Hand Jive is an utter joy, and the big ballsy solos by Sandy (Hope Dawe) and Rizzo (Rebecca Stenhouse) are spine-tinglingly good.

Special mention must be made of the scene-stealing Joe Gash whose Vince Fontaine is hilarious, but his turn as the Teen Angel as he sings Beauty School Drop Out is genuinely breath-taking.

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The Northern Echo: Click the image above for more local eventsClick the image above for more local events (Image: Newsquest)

Directed by Nikolai Foster, the production has been seen by over 500,000 people in the West End and the medley to close the show had the audience on it is feet in Newcastle.

Grease plays at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, June 15 tickets can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the box office on 0191-232-7010.

There are worse things you could do.