This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre - The Grease Edition!
In this special edition of This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre, we put a series of questions to the new Australian cast of Grease. Who did they crush on growing up? What is their first memory of Grease? And just who is cooler at the end of the day - those T-Birds in their leather jackets, or the fabulous Pink Ladies?
Eli Cooper (Eugene), Chris Durling (Doody), Stephen Mahy (Kenickie), Duane McGregor (Roger), Karla Tonkich (Marty), and the Ensemble's Mitchell Mahony, Natasha Marconi, Scott Morris, Shannon O'Shea, Daniel Raso, and Stephanie Silcock share their thoughts on these questions, and more in:
This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre - The Grease Edition!
BWW: What was your favorite movie musical growing up?
Chris: Simple. The only one I managed to see ... Grease.
Duane: Not because I'm doing it now, but has to be Grease.
Eli: I literally grew up sat in front of The Wizard of Oz - I'm fairly certain I became so obsessed with dancing because of the way Ray Bolger could move his body - and it's still my favorite movie ever made!
Karla: It was definitely Grease, and The Sound of Music ... both so different I know.
Shannon: Our Grease tape was already worn out from my older sister. I was all about Chicago. Must have watched it a thousand times.
BWW: Who was your first musicals crush?
Daniel: My first musicals crush was Liesl - Charmian Carr - from The Sound of Music.
Duane: Olivia Newton-John in Grease. LOL.
Eli: I was, and still am, completely in love with, and mesmerized by, Australia's own Rhonda Burchmore - she is charismatic, extremely talented and, from what I've seen, down to earth and such a genuine person - what a legend and inspiration.
Karla: I believe it was Danny Zuko!!?
Mitchell: Rolfe from The Sound of Music ... before he turned into a Nazi.
Natasha: It would have to be Todd McKenney in Singin' in the Rain in 2001 at the Lyric. It was one of the first musicals I ever saw, and I was just mesmerised by him, and his movement across that stage.
Scott: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, and My Fair Lady.
Stephanie: Cats was my first musical, and I had a crush on Brent Osborne, and now we are getting married :)
Stephen: Anthony Warlow.
BWW: What is the first cast album or soundtrack you listened to on repeat?
Daniel: I used to crank the original Broadway cast recording of Wicked. I always used to get strange looks from pedestrians.
Duane: Evita. [It] was the first musical I did when I was 10, in an amateur production.
Eli: I still remember being completely transfixed by the original Broadway cast recording of Wicked! I desperately wanted to be able to sing like those principals ... Ok, I still want to ... they're phenomenal.
Natasha: The soundtrack of Annie, most definitely. I was convinced I would be one of those little girls since the day I saw the movie. I had my own bucket and orphan dress at home.
Scott: After seeing Chicago on Broadway when I was 10 (and singing all the words wrong) my friend sent me the Broadway cast recording. I listened to that on repeat till the CD was broken.
Shannon: Aladdin. It was the theme for my very first dance concert, and I couldn't get enough of it.
Stephanie: Annie. Over, and over, and over!!
Stephen: LES MISERABLES - and MJ's Bad.
BWW: What are your first memories of Grease?
Chris: I remember thinking and wondering how John Travolta could be singing and dancing, and be COOL at the same time. I was under the impression they didn't go together ... Ha.
Daniel: Grease is one of those movies that I can always remember watching on repeat as a kid.
Duane: My first memory of Grease would have been when it was on TV back in the '80s, and I remember the writing on the screen saying "live on Fox fm", so we tuned it into the station, and it was playing very loud through the stereo.
Eli: I remember it was the first VHS I ever picked up from a video hire store that my mum was willing to watch with me - it was later on I learned that wasn't because of the singing or dancing, rather [it was] Travolta in those sports shorts - but still, I was hooked on the piece from that day!
Karla: My cousins and I watching it every time I went to their place, and acting out the scenes.
Mitchell: Watching it on TV with my family when I was about eight.
Natasha: I remember the older students at my dance school, when I was much younger, doing a theatre routine to We Go Together - I knew every word, and would sing the song constantly, but had no idea [what it] was from.
Scott: Watching the movie with my family.
Shannon: I remember watching Grease with my sister. The one scene that has always stuck in my head is You're the One That I want. Pretty sure Sandy was my sister's fave, but I loved Rizzo.
Stephanie: I loved the scene set in Marty's bedroom with Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee.
Stephen: Water pistols, cars and the original JT.
BWW: Settle this for us. Who is cooler - the T-Birds or the Pink Ladies?
Daniel: Definitely the T-Birds! They even were cool enough to all get matching leather jackets!
Duane: Umm Roger!! He's the mooning champ of Rydell High!
Eli: The T-Birds are pretty cool dudes, but you gotta hand it to those Pink Ladies! They one-up the boys at every chance! They push their buttons, surprise them with Sandy and her transformation - and Rizzo has Kenickie completely wrapped around her little finger!
Karla: Ooooh that's a hard one. I don't actually think any of them are cool, I think Eugene is the coolest; he's the only one that is himself and fine with it. If only he'd stick up for himself ... he'd be the hero :)
Mitchell: I think the Pink Ladies, and Rizzo for sure.
Natasha: Of course I should be saying the Pink Ladies, but I think I will have to go with the T-Birds. Their characters just ooze charisma and confidence, and feeling free to do as they please. And I mean who wouldn't want to rock around in a leather jacket!
Shannon: Because I'm a girl I feel like I should be standing up for the Pink Ladies, but it's gotta be the T-Birds. Greased Lightning is my favorite number in the show.
Stephanie: I don't want to betray the girls' side, but I think the T-Birds might have an edge over the Pink Ladies.
BWW: Grease is an iconic musical, and beloved across generations. What do you think makes for its lasting appeal?
Chris: Grease is a story that everyone identifies with. We all went to school and were cool, [or] a sports jock, or a geek. Life seemed so heightened, and dramatic at school, even though really it was so simple. I think generally, society thinks fondly of this chapter of their lives. Whether that's because they made life long friends, were King of the school, had their first kiss, or simply fell in love for the first time. These memories stay with us, and that's why Grease ... is the word.
Daniel: It will always be relevant because of every teenager's high school experiences. Everyone remembers their groups at school, their first crushes, and the parties. And the music is timeless, and makes you want to sing along. It's such a fun, feel-good show.
Duane: Everyone has a memory of this movie, and [it] can be past down generation to generation. The music is just feel-good, and no matter if you're at a 16th birthday party, or an 80th birthday, they always play Grease songs.
Eli: Grease appeals to so many people because everyone can relate. You were a T-Bird, or a Pink Lady, or a Patty Simcox - or, if you were like me, a Eugene ... I honestly believe no matter how grown up we get - you never leave high school. Couldn't ask for a better job than reliving my high school experience all over again nightly!
Karla: The story relates to all ages, from all eras! The themes are love, identity crisis, friendship, school - all these things are still relevant today. Also the music is classic; everyone enjoys rock and roll :)
Mitchell: Classic catchy songs, and great characters.
Natasha: I think the main theme of adolescence and all it includes - puberty, falling in love, teen angst, and sexuality is why Grease has a lasting appeal. Every generation experiences much of the same thing in their years of high school. We all have a crush on the popular kids, fight with our friends, and get in trouble at school, so no matter what age, you can identify with these kids.
Scott: I think people come to the theatre not to watch actors play characters, but to watch themselves being played by actors. Grease gives everybody the chance to do just that. Kids watch who they want to be, teenagers watch who they are right now, and everybody else gets to reminisce about who they were.
Shannon: It's just a fun show. Great music, great characters, and laughs the whole way through. That's what theatre is about, making people feel good.
Stephanie: I think it's a great, high energy, feel good musical; people can know that they are going to have a good, fun night out. Grease also has fantastic songs that everyone knows and loves. I think it also helps that everyone in the cast is having a great time up on stage, and it really shows throughout the performance.
Stephen: It appeals to all generations because of the subject matter. We all went to school, we all needed to figure out who we were. We all had that one crush we couldn't make sense of. Grease music is so catchy, and has never left the DJ's charts. From every dance floor I have been on, there's been at least one song or the mega mix played. I'm not sure [if] that is telling where I go out or not!
The No.1 Party Musical GREASE
Sydney - Now playing at the Sydney Lyric
Melbourne - From January, 2014 at Her Majesty's Theatre
For Tickets and More Information visit greaseistheword.com.au
Images: Jeff Busby