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Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Loads of talent, lots of energy and some great performances. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Reddam House Umhlanga College is currently presenting a four-day run of the popular 1971 musical, Grease, by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey which has enjoyed international fame on stage for close on 50 years. It was made into an equally popular feature film in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The title is based on the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as “greasers”.

The setting is Rydell High School and it’s the first day of a new term. Sandy (who is new at the school) and Danny (who has been there longer and has established a reputation as a ladies’ man) met earlier on a summer holiday and their relationship developed into a romance. However, when Sandy arrives at Rydell, Danny plays it really cool for the benefit of his T-Birds mates, Kenickie, Doody, Roger and Sonny.

Disheartened, Sandy comes under the influence of The Pink Ladies (Rizzo, Jan, Marty and Frenchy) who are prone to smoking and drinking in the bedroom.

The show is directed by Farla Ribbonaar who explains in her programme notes that Grease was always on her “bucket list” of shows that she wanted to direct. “It is a story about peer pressure, making decisions, friendship and growing up,” she explains.

“I do believe the pressures that the teens at Rydell faced still affect the youth of today. Teenagers continue to question their own choices: Do they follow the crowd? Do they change for others? Is giving up on something really worth it? Are they trying hard enough or should they just quit?”

With lively choreography by Quinton Ribbonaar, costumes by Kathy Singery and set design and car by Edox Gerard – this is a great ensemble piece filled with loads of talent, lots of energy and some good performances. Very impressive as well, in the sense that this is a company of 85 (including the band and backstage crew)! Apart from a very few characters, the performers alternate. Much kudos to Farla Ribbonaar for handling such a major challenge.

The main eight characters I saw last night included Pink Ladies Sarah Donkin (Sandy); Fiona McIlroy (Rizzo); Daniella de Charmoy (Jan), Courtney Prentice (Marty) and Fatima van den Bergh (Frenchy). Danny was played by Cameron Hȍll and rest of the T-Birds are Jamie Sindt (Kenickie); Tristan Jamieson (Doody), Calvin Anderson (Roger) and Declan McIlroy (Sonny).

Lyle Buxton, well-known professional actor who has appeared in numerous KickstArt productions, has a cameo role as Johnny Casino and Cameron Grobler was highly amusing as Eugene.

The band is made up of Reddam’s private music teachers: Keren Stevens (keys); Tendai Kamba (guitar); Khethelo Zungu (bass guitar); Sibusiso Nick Engel (saxophone) and David Munn (drums).

School halls – even such an impressive one as Reddam House – are not designed as theatres and have a very wide expanse of stage so I commend the creative team for making optimum use of the space. The screen at the back adds creative atmosphere with appropriate images and the lighting was highly effective. I had a problem with the sound levels which could have done with a bit more tweaking, especially in the high-energy numbers.

The seating is a supper theatre set-up, as well as cinema seating. Closing night (Thursday, March 29) is a 50’s dress-up themed evening. The show starts at 19h00 and takes place in the schools’ auditorium. Tickets R80 from the College reception or booking may be made by emailing Michelle Fiztpatrick on

Reddam House Umhlanga College is situated very close to Gateway at 21A Preston Drive, Prestondale, Umhlanga. Phone: 031 566 5736 – Caroline Smart