The West

Hopelessly devoted to Grease
Hopelessly devoted to Grease

Grease is the word for the next five weeks at the Crown Theatre, where Rob Mills and Gretel Scarlett are stepping out in the roles made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.

The musical theatre hit, which inspired the 1978 film, is back in Perth for the first time since 2005 when Craig McLachlan and Natalie Bassingthwaighte played the loved-up teenagers Danny and Sandy.

Opening tomorrow, this version takes its cues from the original 1971 stage script, which was set in 1950s Chicago and was much more gritty than the cheesy family-friendly film.

“It is a bit of a hybrid,” Mills said. “You get all your favourite songs while having an homage to the original stage play.”

Its slew of hits include the title number, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Greased Lightnin’ and You’re the One that I Want.

Mills was conscious of following in the footsteps of many famous names to have played Danny, including Travolta, Richard Gere, Guy Pearce and McLachlan.

“I bring my own touch to it but it is pretty hard not to copy the John Travolta swagger,” he said.

Scarlett, one of six WAAPA-trained cast members in Grease, said the production had made its own stamp but it was hard not to step away too much from the film.

She said she identified with “good girl” Sandy.

“I am very much a Sandy. I am a bit of a nanna. I go home and drink my tea. I don’t go out. I don’t party. I grew up as that girl.”

The support cast includes Australian stage and screen luminaries Bert Newton, John Paul Young and Todd McKenney in cameo roles.

McKenny joked that his silver sequin suited appearance as Teen Angel lasted less than four minutes but he was glad his pay packet was not so small.

Newton, 75, last seen in Perth performing in Annie in 2012, said the show was terrific fun but it was sad that he was the only cast member to have heard at the outset the 50s rock and roll songs that inspired Grease.

“Back then I was a DJ on the radio and on this production I am playing a DJ so it is re-visiting the past,” he said.

“The thing that I find appealing is when I’m looking out across the audience and I see every demographic represented. You see the kids, the teenagers, the young mums and dads, middle-age people and people of my age group.

“Everyone is there enjoying the show.”

Grease runs until July 27 and then heads to Adelaide.

The West Australian

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