Musings on ‘Grease’ Before Fox’s Live Musical Broadcast with Julianne Hough & Aaron Tveit
Fox’s broadcast of Grease Live, starring Julianne Hough & Aaron Tveit, is just around the corner. All the hype surrounding the show has me waxing nostalgic, musing about the movie that shaped my life.
When I was a kid I desperately wanted to play Mega Man 2. When my sister went down the road to a local video store (yes kids they did exist) I begged her to bring me back the Holy Grail of video games. After using all of my baby faced blue eyed charms I had finally convinced her to rent me the video game that I was certain I could not live without. What happened next changed the entire course of my life.
Eagerly awaiting the return of my sister with the Blue Bomber in hand, the 20 minute journey felt like it took days and days. When I finally saw the headlights pull into the drive, I rushed out the door to grab the game and unite it with my NES where it rightfully belonged.
So imagine my surprise when my sisters told me they didn’t get me Mega Man 2. Instead of bringing me what I was certain was the greatest gift that God had ever given to man, she had returned with Mary Poppins.
Now you have to understand, to a six year old 1988 version of me, this was the worst crime ever committed. I had been betrayed by a blood relative. Things got worse when they insisted that I watch Mary Poppins with them. In an instant I went from a broken hearted victim of egregious abuse to a kicking and screaming, scrawny, pale vengeance machine.
However, when you have four sisters (that number has been upped to seven now), there is only so much damage you do before you are forced to comply with whatever evil scheme they have dreamed up.
Reluctantly I gave in, sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor with my arms folded in protest, I bittered as the film begain. But by the time Dick Van Dyke started dancing with penguins I had been changed. I was then and from that moment on a fan of musicals.
Now don’t get me wrong, my time with Mary was a jolly holiday indeed, but her spoonful of sugar was the gateway drug that sparked my addiction. Surprisingly there weren’t many venues for musical theater in the small town of Nowhere Fast, South Carolina. So I turned to the small screen to feed my needs. From the very same floor that I once protested on, I was able to access a whole new world. From Chicago to New York, New York, If there was a song being sung and toe being tapped, I was there. I quickly learned that I was not only born a Broadway baby I was also born to hand jive.
Enter our hero, Danny Zuko. Cool, collected and just plain electrifying. He was everything I wanted to be. Danny, Kenickie, Sandy and Rizzo became my closest friends. Rydell High became my after school hangout.
Something about Grease really spoke to me. A story of love and transformation had done just that to little Jimi Knight. A vegetarian, I opted for a pleather jacket instead of the real thing and became the cool rider I was always meant to be. (Yes I love Grease 2. Do you have a problem with that?).
As the years went on and more modern rock acts like Jane’s Addiction and The Smashing Pumpkins made their way into my life, I still held a special place for the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds in my heart. My love for Grease was so well known by my fellow theater and choir geeks that I was drafted into the school show choir for a special performance of some of the songs from the musical. In a flash I cropped the hair that had reached all the way down to my nipples, greased it up and once again donned my pleather jacket to get down in the sand.
I will never forget nailing the falsetto at the end of "Summer Nights", making my bigger, tougher and much cooler brother shed a tear of pride.
Still to this day my fondness for Grease has not waned. Musical theater changed my life. I owe who I am to my big sisters who introduced me to Mary. I never felt more confident than when my big brother told me that I had killed it on the stage.
Now my daughter takes after me only she is better than I could ever be. At the age of three she can perform for you selections from Little Shop of Horrors, The Addams Family Musical, Annie, and Frozen (of course) as well as many, many more.
She goes backstage with me to nearly all my productions, learning what actors do and watching me become Seymore Krelborn from the comfort of the candy filled greenroom.
I was once conflicted about teaching her what actors do. But she was bound to notice that Sutton Foster was both a fairytale princess and the new girl in town trying to make it in New York circa 1922. She definitely knew my name wasn’t Seymore, Riff Raff, El Gallo or Lucas. No, my name is Daddy and all these other aliases were just for pretend. Still I felt like I was cheating out of the magic of theater by breaking down that fourth wall so early on. But on the other hand I was showing her how to make magic. Real magic. Not just the pixie dust and wires that make Peter Pan fly, but the cheers from the audience that brings Tinker Bell back to life.
However, there is one character that she doesn’t think is acting and his name is Dr Horrible. She wants him to be her friend and pretends that he calls her on the phone and wants to invite him to a pizza party. It would blow her little mind to learn that Hedwig (calm down she only listens to some of the songs) and the good doctor were one in the same. (Someone please tweet this to Neil Patrick Harris.)
In a simalur fashion,as a kid my mother was able to convince me to watch Look Who's Talking, because Danny, Not John Travoltia, was in it.
So this Sunday Night, Fox is giving me the chance to sit criss cross applesauce on the living room floor with my daughter and introduce her to my old friends Sandy and Danny in a way that neither one of us have ever seen before.
Fox’s broadcast of Grease Live airs this Sunday Night, Jan 31, at 7:00 p.m. eastern. Even if you are not a big fan of musical theater give it a chance. You might just find out that you were too were born to hand jive.© 2016 The Classical Art, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.