We go together: Dan Partridge and Olivia Moore on playing Danny and Sandy in 'Grease'
There are numerous romantic film couples taking over West End theatres at the moment, from Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman: The Musical to the doomed love affair between Christian and Satine in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. The Dominion Theatre is adding to that tally: Rydell High’s Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski are strutting into town as Grease hits the West End.
Grease was last at London's Dominion from 1993-9. During those six years, the show featured actors such as Tamzin Outhwaite, Shane Richie, Sally Ann Triplett, Anna Jane-Casey, and Samantha Womack. Now, a fresh-faced cast begin their West End journeys with Grease, and many of the company assume their first lead roles.
Having played Danny on tour in 2019 and 2021, Dan Partridge makes his West End debut as the Grease leading man. Olivia Moore plays his paramour Sandy, following previous performances in Heathers and Waitress. Partridge and Moore will now also reprise their roles in Grease in 2023. We chatted with Grease’s latest stars about growing up with the musical and playing the loved-up teenagers.
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What’s your first memory of Grease?
Dan Partridge: It was one of the first musicals I really knew of. I had the DVD — maybe even the VHS — growing up. I was just completely obsessed with [Danny’s] character, the fun, and the camaraderie. I grew up with three brothers and I knew the boisterous thing was part of my make-up. It was also the first show I did when I was 12. I did it a couple of times before I went to train professionally, so Grease is definitely a big part of my life!
Olivia Moore: I’m the youngest of four so growing up, I had a small collection of DVDs I had ownership of. Grease was one of mine and I loved playing it and singing in my lounge. My mum also gave me the recorder so everyone hated me! I remember having so much fun watching Grease and taking my mind from everything.
Now you’re playing Danny and Sandy. How does it feel to step into such iconic roles?
Olivia: It’s a weird thing that as a performer it’s terrifying being really vulnerable on the Dominion stage. No pressure! But with that it’s so fun, and to have the trust to be able to tell these stories and be these characters and bring them to life is something I’m truly grateful for.
Dan: As I've previously played Danny, I’ve shrugged off the sense of trying hard to figure out who Danny should be. But already we’ve both really found an image of who it is and I think it’s a real honour for the both of us to have license to make our versions of Sandy and Danny. This is how we think the roles are relevant and [we can] tell a newer story.
Dan, as someone who is half deaf, does this come with its own difficulties in rehearsals?
Dan: To be honest, yeah. I had surgery when I was 17. I was worried it was going to hinder my career. In drama school, I never brought it up, not out of shame but for it to be something that would hold me back. It’s just what I have and I have to work harder and that’s fine.
When I’m tired, I struggle to hear. The hard thing is when there’s noise. I struggle to hear the piano and I sometimes miss a cue. I’m kind of used to it now and that’s OK. When there’s lots of noise, I work hard to keep on pitch and I don’t want to throw Sandy off!
So when working on Grease in rehearsals, what have you and the rest of the cast focused on?
Dan: We wanna take Grease back to the truth. It’s been really fun to dissect and basically make our own version of it and put the emphasis on the things that we thinka re very important in this day and age. We want to empower the female characters, we want to highlight the toxic masculinity of these male characters and how it can be jarring. We haven’t shied away from it.
Olivia: We're focusing on important things that are embedded in this show. With that, it holds a lot of responsibility but it’s been great.
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