Grease is the word: by Tamantha Elliot
It creeps up on us – pumping out of the speakers of Mad Cow, or belted out at the nearest karaoke bar. Right now as I write these words it is creeping through my headphones. It even found its way into my debutante ball – a room of girls in white dresses and boys in suits dancing their hearts out to the Grease Mega Mix.
We all know it. Screaming out the lyrics and busting out the dance moves, every generation knows Grease. It is a pinnacle of pop culture in Western society that will earn you a gasp and dirty look if you admit to never have seen it. So how has Grease wormed its way into the hearts of generation after generation?
Hitting the Chicago stage in 1971, the musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey took inspiration from Jacobs’ high school experience and transferred it into the story of ten working class Chicago teenagers. A raunchy and a aggressive show for its time, it battled themes and social issues such as teenage pregnancy and peer pressure. Over the subsequent years, Grease’s gritty tale was toned down, and its characters became more generic as it moved from its eight month Chicago run to the Broadway scene.
In 1973 the show hit London, and a couple of years later it hit the screens. The 1978 motion picture took the popular stage musical and cemented its cult classic status. With John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Stockard Channing among the stars, the musical reached new audiences across the world. Successful both critically and commercially, the movie’s soundtrack was the United State’s second-best selling album in 1978. An instant box office hit, it overtook the 13-year record held by The Sound of Music for highest-grossing musical ever. Although it has since been surpassed by Les Misérables and Mammia Mia! it remains a solid third.
Deemed a musical that “never gets old” and “terrific fun” by critics, the story has found itself voted into the top billing of countdowns and Top 100 lists far into the 00s. Nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards, winning People’s Choice Awards, the motion picture continues to rack up a fan-base.
It wasn’t until 2016 that the classic musical hit screens again, with a star-studded television event, Grease Live! Unlike its motion picture processor, Grease Live! incorporated elements and songs from both the stage and screen productions, as well as some additions, in a live broadcast from Warner Bros. Studios. With a live audience, theatrical staging, stylings, and even that satisfying sound of Velcro in an onstage quick change – the production re-created the theatrical energy and sent it into the screens of Grease fans worldwide.
A 46-year-old musical with a fan-base extending across generations, Grease and its catchy tunes and fun dance moves will continue to take over dance floors and theatres. Maybe in another 54 years another theatre-obsessed individual will sit down at their laptop or holo-screen to write an article about the 100 year birthday of the immortal cult-classic that has you dancing like an idiot to a song about a car. But for now, while we still live in the age of mere laptops and smart phones the Townsville Choral Society’s production of Grease is hitting the Townsville Civic Theatre from the 8th-18th of February. So grab your T-Birds and Pink Ladies, pull on your leather jackets and slip into those leather pants because “grease is the word. It’s the time, it’s the place, it’s the motion. Grease is the way we are feeling” and it’s cruising on into the Civic Theatre.
Author Bio: “My name is Tamantha Elliot – freelance arts and entertainment journalist and urban fantasy writer. I am also a full time nerd, theatre-goer, lover of literature, music listener, somewhat terrible gamer, television watcher, and (very) amateur artist. You can find me on my blog at: https://thesame26letters.wordpress.com/“