Monday, November 17, 2008

All About Grease

Wintery Red Barn, 2008, Oil on Panel, 9x9

I have mentioned here more than a few times that I have not ever been a particularly popular person. This was an embarrassing problem in June of 1978 when, more than anything I wanted to see Grease as soon as it hit the movie theaters. My best friend Tammy, was either away or couldn't go (don't remember exactly), so I decided to do the most socially unacceptable thing ever in my junior high school world. I went to the movie by myself. Doing that probably secured my outcast status but it was worth it. I loved that movie more than anything. The songs, the dancing, John Travolta, and oddly, I loved Dinah Manoff (Marty) way more than Olivia Newton John (Sandy).

I promptly dug into my babysitting money and bought the soundtrack which I listened to over and over. In my 8th grade art class that fall I did a colored pencil drawing, copying the album cover which secured my secondary status as the artist outcast. It was years before I saw the movie again (um this was well before tapes and dvd of course) and then for awhile I scoffed at how stupid the movie was (even though I secretly still loved it).

Once after I met Doug we went on vacation with his family. His niece, who was nine at the time, was obsessed with the Grease soundtrack. She listened to it over and over and I think I scored a few points with her by knowing each word in every song. By then of course I had seen the movie again a number of times on tv or on cable.

When my girls were younger, they saw the movie on tv (thank goodness, the condom breaking scene was cut, no need to answer questions I wasn't ready for yet:)) and so I bought them the soundtrack, this time a CD. THEY listened to it over and over and we all did the hand jive and they loved the pointing during "Greased Lightening".

So this fall, the local high school decided to do the broadway version of Grease (which is a bit different than the movie) for their annual school play. My daughter who is in sixth grade and too young to be in it, was up on all the cast gossip. It is a small town obviously. And because it is a small school, about 60 kids per grade, nearly all the kids in high school were involved in this play, which had a large cast and crew. I love this about the school plays here. My high school was HUGE, about 550 per grade and only a handful of students were involved in the drama clubs and were pretty much the same kids who were in all the plays. The cliques were more distinct in that large setting, but here everyone crosses over. And with a big project like Grease nearly everyone was tapped to play a part, work on the set, make costumes or even be an usher. I love that kids who have no intention of being a performer in their future, take a risk and take a part in a play. To me it parallels someone who likes to fool around with making art, just for fun and considering it as yet another skill one can learn.

Any way, after months of hard work the play opened last Thursday. We got tickets for Saturday night's performance and it was so crowded, the auditorium was bursting. Everyone we know was there. The show was awesome! We all loved it and the best part was seeing kids that we know doing something that they obviously enjoyed and worked so hard at. Our neighbor's son did a memorable turn as Eugene, the daughter of the architect who worked on our house was Marty, and the girl who played Rizzo rides my kid's school bus. I get a little teary eyed thinking about this but I am sure by the time my kids are doing these plays and I know ALL the kids, I will be full out bawling!

Oh and the kid who sang "Beauty School Dropout" brought down the house! He was an awesome singer and dancer and cute and didn't seem to feel at all embarrassed to be wearing a white jumpsuit with a shiny purple cape, a la Elvis.

Wish I had some pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera. We'll just have to get by with an image of one of my paintings. heh.


meno said...

Boy, Grease is such a part of my teenage experience. I LOVE high school productions, there is obviously so much love and work that goes into them.

Chris Rywalt said...

There's a mildly amusing bit from SNL where Christopher Walken, I think it is, as the director of the singing group, takes the group through "Greased Lightning" stopping at all the dirty parts and revising them. It's not laugh-out-loud hilarious -- like all SNL bits it goes on way too long -- but it's funny to see what we were listening to when we were kids.

Dawn and I saw "Grease" on Broadway during its revival a few years back and I was stunned by how satirical and adult it is. The movie deadened a lot of the satire, I think, by playing it big, and somehow the adult themes, as they'd call them, got buried in the shuffle. But, man, you couldn't make a movie like that today.

Corinne, being the singer-dancer in the family, liked some of the "Grease" movie, but Dawn didn't really want her to see it. She also didn't want her to see "Hairspray," although by contrast it's innocuous -- except for seeing John Travolta in fat-suit drag, which is emotionally scarring.

Our high school did "High School Musical," of course. LAME! William's in the theater club at his school now, and I'm so proud of him: He doesn't want to perform at all, he wants to work backstage. Good boy, that's where the stable jobs are!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

and an awesome barn up there too

Natalya said...

i love that movie!
the barn is awesome too!
my girls are involved in a Russian school play this Xmas (i'm doing costumes) and kids of all ages are participating. much smaller scale though, but still fun and emotional... so yes you will be bawling by the time your kids are in it!

Tracy said...

Meno, I am coming around to enjoying hs plays. It was tough here at first the first one we saw was excruciating to sit through, I can't even recall what it was. Last year was Beauty and the Beast and that was actually very entertaining.

Chris, yes the broadway version Grease is quite a bit different, not so much focus on Danny and Sandy either. Hollywood amped that up and, well I can't say that it didn't work.

But never mention the Hairspray remake to me again! I will never forgive anyone who was involved in making that travesty. The original was perfect in every way, and don't even get me started on the fat suit and John Travolta, a extremely poor substitute for Divine. Blech, I couldn't even watch the whole thing. (I did kind of like Christopher Walken, but he is easy to enjoy).

Thanks Gary, good contrast eh? Barns vs Broadway.

Oh that sounds fun Natalya! Well if you actually like to sew that is, which you do of course. Hope you'll post a few shots of the costumes, I bet they're beautiful.

Casey Klahn said...

I happened to have see the movie Grease when it came out and I was in New York City with the Army. I think I also caught Star Wars, or perhaps it was just the preview for it - can't recall.

I remember that there were people in the audience smoking cigarettes. Hello - that was a culture shock for me.

But, the best memory was seeing Yul Brenner in The King & I on Broadway. My kids now love to watch that movie.

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

I love the circle of life.

Tracy said...

Casey, Stars Wars was releasing in 1977 so you probably did see that too. It's so odd to be reminded that people used to be able to smoke everywhere! So glad THAT has changed:)

Yes, Robin, so interesting to see things come back around, usually with a new name. Bell bottoms-boot cut, for example, and hip-huggers-low rise:) Like us old folks are fooled that easily!

self taught artist said...

the red in this painting is absolutely fantastic, something about it really hits me right. beautiful!