Playhouse Stage Experience presents Grease

The cast of Grease. Picture: Lesley Martin
The cast of Grease. Picture: Lesley Martin
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Liam Rudden previews Grease, the eighth annual Playhouse Stage Experience.

IN 2006, more than 100 local youngsters made their acting debut at the Playhouse. They were part of the venue’s first ever Stage Experience - a production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

Seven years on, the annual stage school, which has since allowed almost 1000 youngsters the opportunity to experience appearing in a musical, unveils its latest production tonight, the ever-popular Grease.

Following a series of productions that has included Annie, High School Musical, Anything Goes, Fame, The Glee Club Experience and Footloose, Grease tells the story of Rydell High School sweethearts Danny and Sandy, and their friends the T-Bird and the Pink Ladies.

With unforgettable singalong numbers such as You’re The One That I Want, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You and Greased Lightnin’ the musical is the perfect vehicle for the Playhouse’s young talent - all 118 of them - believes show producer Jo Beale.

“Grease is a show we’ve been interested in for some time, so when the rights became available we were over the moon. It’s such a high energy show and contains some really great songs,” she says.

Beale, who is also Playhouse deputy general manager, continues, “Every year I am amazed at how talented our cast are and how quickly they pick up the dance routines and learn the songs.

“Having only two weeks to put everything together is quite a challenge but they work so hard and when they get on stage they really do give it their all. I really am very proud of the entire cast and when the curtain rises on opening night, I’m sure I will have a tear in my eye and a huge smile on my face.”

If past Experiences are anything to go by, the youngsters showcasing their talent in the 3000-capacity venue could well include a star or two of the future.

Ruari Cannon, who played the Artful Dodger in Oliver! seven years ago, and who returned to play a role in the second Stage Experience, recently appeared as Meth in World War Z, playing scenes opposite Brad Pitt. The 21-year-old is currently starring alongside Kim Cattrall in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth at London’s Old Vic.

He’s not the only one to have carved a professional career after catching the acting bug on the Greenside Place stage.

Leith girl Rebecca Stenhouse, who played Sharpay in High School Musical has since toured Europe in the show Musical Starlights and is now about to embark on a world arena tour of Grease, understudying the lead role of Sandy.

“Throughout the rest of the year the Playhouse is host to some of the UK’s biggest touring musicals.As Stage Experience is the only one we produce in-house, it is a wonderful opportunity for the participants to follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s biggest musical stars,” adds Beale.

Grease, Playhouse, Greenside Place, tonight & tomorrow, 7.30pm (matineee 2.30pm), £16.90-£24.40, 0844-871 3014