Review: Grease, York Light, York Theatre Royal, until February 23. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

DOES any musical make people happier than Grease, even before the show has opened? In Friday's dress circle a group of very organised mothers tended to their children, not yet teenage, all as excited as each other.

Such is the abiding appeal of the 1978 John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John film and equally the Fifties-flavoured rock'n'roll songs of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's American musical that pass down the generations.

Courtesy of Robert Stigwood, the stage musical can use Hopelessly Devoted To You, Sandy, Grease and the climactic You're The One That I Want, all so crucial to the movie and here bolstering a show that features more songs than the screen version, much to the approval of an audience that cheers every number.

Martyn Knight's two-hour production opens with the ensemble impact of Grease Is The Word, establishing the high energy and slick shapes of his Fifties' choreography that makes really good use of the set design and one large prop in particular. Greased Lightnin' is an audience favourite in the first act as the T-Birds college boys jump on and off and in and out of Kenickie's car, in a scene led by Jack Armstrong, one of the York Light Youth-nurtured talents now blooming in full York Light colours, much to Knight's pleasure.

Summer Nights in the cafeteria has already announced the singing talents and chemistry of company debutant James Horsman's Danny and Sarah Craggs's suitably goody-goody Sandy, the new girl at 1958 Rydell High. Horsman can do those Travolta high notes; he has a lightness of comic playing about him too, plus the necessary insouciance and the immaculately greased hair, while Craggs wholly justifies her graduation from the ensemble ranks with her lovely voice, even better in her Act Two solo, Hopelessly Devoted To You.

Horsman and Craggs are partners "in real life", by the way, but this is the first time they have shared a stage: inspired casting, and how they enjoy You're The One That I Want.

One of the joys of Grease, aside from those oh-so-familiar songs, is the chance for so many to shine, dazzlingly so in the case of Richard Bayton's Teen Angel, reaching Frankie Valli heights with aplomb in Beauty School Dropout. Emma-Louise Dickinson's agent provocateur Rizzo, Hannah Witcomb's Frenchy and Sarah Bruce's college geek Patty have their moments, while York Light freshman William Darwin makes an immediate impression as Doody. Not for the first time, Finn East, so light footed and expressive in a Jack Black kind of way, pretty much steals a show, and his cheeky "mooning" scene with Fiona Bristow's Jan is a scream.

Knight's choreography peaks with the effervescent We Go Together, where everyone keeps moving positions in perfect timing on a bank of seating, while John Atkin's musicians shine throughout this daft but fun show.

Charles Hutchinson