Grease review - jan & so much more
All eyes were on Rydell High School as Grease returned to The Grand Opera House, Belfast.
We joined the craic at the beautiful newly renovated theatre, took to our seats and set our sights to the stage.
Ahead of the opening night in the GOH we had the pleasure of interviewing local lass Maeve Byrne who is playing the role of Jan
Maeve hope you are well, so tell our readers where you are from and when you ventured out of N.I to perfect your craft.
I’m from Bangor, I went to school at St. Patricks in Knock, while taking my A-Levels I applied for Drama Schools in London, I got a place at Guildford School of Acting back in 2009 and graduated in 2012
Did you grow up in the world of Am-Dram?
Yes, and I loved it, I went to McMasters in Bangor, MT for youth and Ulster Operatic Society
Have you preformed in the GOH before?
Yes, I done Westside Story with Ulster Operatic society, it was some time ago but a wonderful experience
Will this be your first professional role in the Grand Opera House, if so, how does it feel?
It is just amazing being close to home in such an iconic venue, walking through the stage doors, hearing a familiar accent. Though like many people from Northern Ireland getting to work in the GOH as a professional is on the bucket list which I can how check off, it’s great to have gone full circle from Amateur Dramatics to paid work. I have been so fortunate in the past couple of years I’ve got to work on productions in The Mac, The Lyric and now The Grand Opera House
What do you think of the place now that it has had a multimillion-pound makeover?
I’m only arriving to the Theatre later today ahead of the performance, I have seen all the wonderful pictures though I cannot wait to see the work with my own eyes
The past 18 months have been particularly hard for performers how have things been for you.
It’s so bizarre almost 2 years ago to the day I got cast for Grease, we were due to start touring in March/April 2021 though with Covid that wasn’t possible. I must say though the team behind the tour have been amazing throughout, keeping in contact and always adamant to get the tour going as soon as possible, allot of my peers lost work, things being cancelled indefinitely though myself and the cast of Grease have been very lucky.
Let’s delve in Grease,
The show is on tour, where have you been so far and where has been your favourite place
Favourite place so far has to be Bristol, the theatre was lovely and there was just a great atmosphere, Edinburgh was also great, it is one of my favourite cities, so it was lovely getting to visit and perform. Other places we have been to are Sheffield, Dartford, London venues, we’ve been all over to be honest. London was also great as friends and family planned trips over to see the show. This week though in the Grand Opera House will be the icing on the cake, I have friends and family coming to support every night which is so exciting and humbling to think they are coming to support me
We are all familiar with the movie, how does the stage musical differ?
Most people aren’t aware that the stage version was out before the movie, the concept and story is the same with a few changes, without giving to much away, some of the songs are in a different order, dances also are at different points that what people will remember, and the T-birds go by the name of the Burger Palace Boys, the name of the diner that we all hang out in. Also, people will be waiting on Sandra Dee in the bedroom, don’t be disappointed when you don’t hear it as it’s at a different point in the show. The biggest difference though is that the Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys get more time to shine, you get to know them more than what’s revealed in the film
Peter Andre is playing the role of Teen Angel, unfortunately he isn’t here in Belfast though what is he like?
Peter is just lovely, it has been a pleasure working with him, honestly, he is so friendly and down to earth, and his fans so wild when they see him, yes, he isn’t in N.I though Jake Fisher who plays the venue’s that Peter can’t is incredible, his vocals are outstanding. Him and Peter play the characters so differently putting their owe stamp which is a nice contrast.
Tell us what you enjoy about playing a character like Jan?
It’s a real treat, she is such a lovely character, so much more timid than other members of the Pink Ladies, she just wants to be loved, we all have that friend who would sometimes get the mick taken out of them though can laugh it off. She’s quirky, fun and likable
Everyone has a favourite song and scene, what are yours?
You’re the one that I want sticks out in my memory from growing up, seeing Sandy after the transformation and it terms of being in the show the opening is just amazing as soon as you hear the band playing the intro to Grease Is the Word live every night, there is nothing like it
Once you finish the Belfast leg of the tour will you get much time with friends and family?
I’ll get 2 days with my family after the show finishes then it’s straight off to Birmingham, though I have been staying with them while I’ve been here, so I’ve had time to see people and it’s been amazing getting home cooked meals everyday
Why should the people of Belfast and N.I come to see grease?
It’s a story that everyone is familiar with, come have a good time and let us transport you back to 1959, it’s such a fun show and we all need and deserve fun in our lives and, it’s important to support the arts
LETS DELVE INTO LAST NIGHTS PERFORMANCE
This latest adaptation features choreography from Strictly's Arlene Phillips, and it's amazing! This show is slick, everything about it flows seemingly effortlessly - the dancing, the singing, the set changes, and the lighting design. It's a happy go lucky colour-fest feast for both the eyes and ears.
We all know the story, boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back again - it's a story we've watched and re-watched over the years between Danny and Sandy. The show is packed full of show stopping songs that you won't be able to stop yourself from singing along to, again - because we've heard them for years and they are familiar songs that we all love (Grease is the Word, Hopelessly Devoted, Summer Love etc etc). Throw in with this some fabulous songs just for the stage show that we don't know from the movie and it makes for a great original and uplifting experience.
Leave your blues behind you for a couple of hours, go see this show and just enjoy yourself. If your foot isn't tapping, there's not a smile on your bake, or your not at least muttering the songs under your breath then there's something wrong with ya.