Edinburgh: Playhouse Theatre, until Sat 10 Jan tam

Rose-tinted glasses come in handy when it comes to remembering your high school days. Heartache, homework and hormones gone berserk . . . great, weren’t they?

This side of the Atlantic we never had to run with the jocks and cheerleaders, but there were other equally horrific hierarchies to contend with, which is what gives Grease its universal appeal. This sentimental study of adolescence in the heyday of rock ’n' roll has delighted audiences for over two decades, and the dust looks far from settling on the flips and flat-tops.

As if you needed reminding, Sandy’s the archetypal innocent, a new kid in town who's got a lot of learning to do in the art of putting out and looking glam. Meanwhile Danny’s way too cool to admit he’s got the hots for a chick And when it comes to high school, kids, we all learned the hard way that street cred and conformity are paramount.

Nikki Worrall turns in a suitath sickly sweet Sandy to lan Kelsey’s smooth- talking if sometimes cardboard Danny, but they’re no John and OliVia. Hot Gossip creator Arlene Phillips has prowded some nifty footwork, but aside from the odd stand-Out support,

Ease is the word: the skilled dancers of Grease

the cast is altogether unremarkable in the singing and acting stakes.

Despite some acute characterisations and subtle observations, the stOry gets a bit swamped by the big-budget glamour of it all. It would've been good to see it in its embryonic days before the fancy gimmickry, elaborate sets and gaudy frocks came along.

But such a tried and tested formula is kind of hard to stuff up and consequently you'd have to be a kiIIjoy not to get swept up in the froth and fun of it all. As for the best days of your life bollocks. (Claire Prentice)

MUSICAL South Pacific

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Sat ll Oct * 'f

Marine life: Jessica Martin and Mark Wynter in South Pacific

Big hand music, a chunky set and oastel hues herald more unashamed populism at the Festival Theatre Rodgers and Harrimerstein's South Pacific ‘.'/III moo Its target audience, and this glossy, deeply professional production supplies everything they {Vic-(J

The musical tale of romance on a Pacific island during World War II inevitably come, across as something of an anticiiie now, and the prc‘iductzrin’s technical finesse only underlines its retrograde sentiments Rustie Lee emerges from the backwaters of TV cookery to play a PolyneSian mama wrth a heart of gold Jessica Martin grins and prances through her winning portrayal of the

American nurse at the centre of the story. Instant lust springs between Lieutenant Cable, a randy US Marine, and Liat, a doe-eyed native who seems to be all of eleven. The audience laps up the famous songs, despite a sadly underweight version of 'Happy Talk’.

PI'QJUdICGS subside as you realise that the plotting is far from crude and the leads can communicate real history behind their perilous love affair. And the story isn’t neatly, happily resolved: even slightly cheesy musicals can achieve a kind of porgnancy when commenting on death. South Pacific shows Rodgers and Hammerstein shifting fluently between song and dramatic action in a way which distrngmshes this from their other musicals

The problems he in the production’s slick engineering, its swaggering soulessness that threatens to leave the irriagination frozen Sets are so literal and scene changes so seamless that the 1958 film becomes an unhelpful, nagging reference The performers stick to the routine like they're stuck in concrete, you sense that if there was a hint of unscheduled creatiVity, the evening’s sponsors wOUId \‘JIIIiCIfcM/V their support in disgust

There are no rough edges to lend this rnUSIcaI a heart, but it rs smootth manufactured, big-budget enter- tainment that V/III probably satisfy musical-lovers (Chris Small)


* * Outstandin

* * it * Recommen ed * * * Worth a try

* it 80-50

it Poor

reviews THEATRE

; .- , “WI”:.......,...m.m-.--..."Wm:- THEATRE COMPANY M U S S E L B U R G H


angiagirl used to 56mm Md 5mm--.

10 - 25 OCTOBER 1997 7.30pm


- BOX OFFICE 0131 665 2240

Tickets: £9.00, £5.50 concession, £4.50 matinee

10 Oct—2? Orr 1997 THE UST65