It’s rare to see a touring production that pulls out all the stops and really delivers – but Grease certainly is the Word. We all know the film version with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John as the starcrossed lovers Danny and Sandy, who meet and romance over the summer holiday before being thrust together again unexpectedly at Rydell High School. At school, Danny is leader of the T-boys, the epitomy of cool, while the quieter Sandy struggles to keep up with the Pink Ladies, the trendy girls about town. Their romantic struggles – along with the lives of their friends such as Rizzo and Kenickie make for an entertaining evening, set to an evening of 50s inspired music by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

In this latest production, Danny is played by Danny Bayne, who won the ITV competition Grease is the Word to play the role opposite Susan Macfadden in the West End. Now on tour post West End, having played the role many times, the role still fits like a glove and Mr Bayne certainly has the John Travolta look down to a tee. Opposite him as Sandy this time around is Carina Gillespie as Sandy – a diminuitive actress previously unknown to me, who makes an effective transformation from wholesome and straight-laced Sandy to sexy vamp. Both actors equip themselves well in their solo numbers and duets, including Hopelessly Devoted to You and Sandy. However, the star of the show for my money was Kate Somerset How as Rizzo, the good-time girl who gets some of the best lines and put-downs. Her version of There are worse things I could do – in a wig that brings to mind a young Patti Lupone – is a real highlight.

When Sandy’s pal Frenchy’s (Lauren Stroud) future in the local Beauty School is compromised, Robin Cousins (why?!) appears as Teen Angel in a cloud of dry ice (!), disappearing almost as quickly, having given us a so-so version of Beauty School Dropout. I feel embarassed for the rest of the (hardworking and lesser paid) cast when Mr Cousins reappears on the balcony as a bill-topper in the finale. Some of the rest of the cast were maybe a little too old for their roles, but this is summer and musical comedy, and so all is forgiven. Ricky Rojas gives an energetic performance of Greased Lightning as Kenickie, complete with actual car on stage, and Darren John is a suitably geeky Eugene. Nancy Hill as Miss Lynch may not be Sue Sylvestor (thank goodness!), but production values are so much higher than the recent Glee offering at the O2.

Directed by David Gilmore, this production of Grease has been running on and off (largely on) since Craig McLachlan’s West End outing, and shows no sign of tiring. The musical staging and choreography – both by Arlene Phillips – is as slick as Danny’s hair and as sharp as Rizzo’s wit. This is no dumbed down version for the regional masses, and Stori James – credited with recreating the musical staging and choreography – has obviously drilled the dancers to within an inch of their lives and created a very co-ordinated company. The band are led by the enthusiastic Robert Cousins (presumably no relation to billtopper Robin) and the musicians are visible at the top of the stage at various moments which adds to the party atmosphere. Slight overamplification jars the clarity of speaking voices in some of the earlier scenes, but nothing can stop Terry Parsons innovative sets trundling on and off stage effortlessly – the Drive-In Movie scene being a particular stand-out. The guy on the merchandise stand was giving as much energy to his punters as the rest of the company were giving on stage, and there were even a few Pink Ladies spotted outside.

The set pieces We go together and You’re the one that I want explode onto the stage, with the whole cast toe-tapping in sheer delight. For once here’s a show where numbers deserve to be reprised at the end and Grease is a real summer blast. Danny Bayne slicks back his hair one last time before throwing his comb into the audience, only just out of my grasp (damn it!). Yup, Grease is still The one that I want and this production was well worth another entry in the Rydell High Year Book.