The ‘Grease’ cast and the musical go together in the West End
If you’re reading this, you probably know what Grease is about. One summer, boy meets girl, and then they’re suddenly at high school together. But teenage love only runs surface deep, and the romantic feeling dies out faster than one of them can say “I have homework.”
Nearly 50 years on from the film’s release, millions try to recreate John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s iconic portrayals of Danny and Sandy, whether that be at fancy dress parties or singing Grease hits at karaoke bars.
The Grease story holds a dear place in many people’s hearts, especially for the current Grease cast and creatives in London, where the show is playing at the Dominion Theatre. Even though there’s new takes on the beloved teenage high school musical (including three new songs) all the best moments remain, and it’s a story everyone will love.
“There are new elements to Grease, but there’s a new focus,” said Olivia Moore, who plays Sandy.
We chatted with members of the Grease cast and the creative team about their early connections to the show and why they go together with the show like ramalamalama… you know the rest.
The Grease cast watched the Grease movie on repeat
“Grease was one of the first musicals I really knew of,” said Dan Partridge, who plays Danny. “I had the DVD — or maybe the VHS — growing up. I was just completely obsessed with the characters and the camaraderie. I grew up with three brothers and I knew the boisterous thing was part of my makeup of who I was growing up. It was also the first show I did when I was 12, and I did it a couple of times before I went to train.”
While the younger cast members would have watched the film on repeat while growing up, some of the cast recall the film’s relatability upon its initial release.
“I was five years old when it was released in 1978,” said Peter Andre, the “Mysterious Girl” singer who makes his West End debut as Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel.
“Everyone was talking about an Australian girl being in it — Olivia Newton-John — and I really wanted to see it. And then when I finally did, I saw it 10 or 12 times.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andre wasn’t the only cast member who grew up on a Grease-related film diet. Moore has fond memories of watching the upbeat 1970s film time and time again.
“I’m the youngest of four so growing up, I had a small collection of DVDs I had ownership of,” said Moore. “Grease was one of mine because 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 it taking my mind from everything.”
The Grease cast and creatives have happy teenage memories
For teenagers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, the Grease soundtrack would have accompanied high school life and beyond. But for the Grease cast — many of whom are making their West End debuts in the show — their teenage music playlists were filled with different songs.
The show’s Sandy and Danny Olivia Moore and Dan Partridge identify their teenage lives with “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry and “Dumpweed” by Blink 182 respectively. But for more senior members of the company, their teenage hits are cultural masterpieces.
“All that I can think of is West Side Story! It’s my life’s passion, I think. “Somewhere” makes me cry everytime. I’ve got the transcript of the film which is ancient and falling into pieces” said Grease choreographer, Arlene Phillips.
For Peter Andre, there’s two songs which send him back to his teenage self. “The song that reminds me of moving to Australia is Paul Young’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”. When we moved, we thought it was paradise, but we suffered a lot of real hardcore racism. When I moved to high school, it was all of Michael Jackson songs. He was the 1980s for me.”
And what’s Grease without talking about teenage crushes? After all, Grease follows the love story of Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko at a Chicago high school.
For Andre, his teenage crush was infact the original film Sandy, Olivia Newton-John. “Olivia Newton-John wasn’t classed as a supermodel, but she would have been. Years later, after watching Grease, I shared the stage with Olivia Newton-John. It’s amazing how life goes in circles.”