Louise Minchin’s summer night with Grease at Storyhouse Chester drive-in

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin - Credit: Archant

BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin goes to her first drive-in with Storyhouse, Chester, and the cast of Grease

Summer dreams ripped at the seams but oh... those summer nights Photo: Getty

Summer dreams ripped at the seams but oh... those summer nights Photo: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I had never been to a drive-in in my life, but I have always loved the romanticism of those American movies where some of the best scenes are set beneath vast electric screens, with impossibly glamorous stars draped sullenly over extravagant convertible cars. So I was delighted when I heard that as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, open-air cinemas were allowed to start reeling. I could hardly wait to try one, intrigued to find out what they were really like and whether they could possibly work in the UK.

We don’t exactly have the right climate for drive-ins so when I turned up in a grey concrete carpark in the centre of Chester in a light drizzle, I was a bit worried I was in danger of having duped everyone into a miserable, wet night out. It felt utterly surreal seeing a 30-foot screen set up beside the main road, and cars parked neatly in socially distanced rows, but it turned out to be far from miserable.

From the moment we were handed our retro sweets in a huge pink and white striped paper bag it was utterly brilliant. The wonderful Storyhouse volunteers guided us into a parking spot at a safe distance from our friends, who parked their car next to us. We rolled our windows down, tuned in our car radio to the cinema’s FM radio, chatted and munched popcorn while we waited for it to go dark enough for the film to start.

For my first drive-in movie, there was only one choice of film I could make – the 1978 classic, Grease. I have watched it dozens of time, know most of the words and love to sing along as loud as I possibly can. Danny and Sandy’s love story, his dancing, her transformation and the joyously choreographed dance numbers never fail to make me feel good. I didn’t realise that everyone in our house knows the words too, and we all joined in together in a loud family sing-a-long.

Sure enough, even though the windscreen wipers had to continuously swipe to clear our view, and my car battery nearly ran out of charge, we spent a fantastically happy two hours transported to the 1950s and Rydell High.

It might have been terrible weather, but it didn’t matter; I haven’t laughed so much in ages and I will definitely go back to those summer nights again.

Louise’s summer night with Sandy and Danny was at the MoonLight Drive-in Cinema produced by Storyhouse, at Linenhall Car Park, Chester, in partnership with Chester Race Company. Moonlight is also presenting open-air Flicks, under the stars at Chester Cathedral’s beautiful Dean’s Field - find out more here and from August 5, Tatton Park hosts summer movies with Luna Drive-in Cinema, see here for a run-down of the films and booking information.