Interview: Olivia Moore Talks GREASE at Dominion Theatre

Moore discusses her role as Sandy in the new West End revival of the iconic musical

By: Apr. 06, 2022

Grease The Musical

For the first time in 15 years, Grease is back in the West End this summer with a gritty makeover, and former Heathers star Olivia Moore is stepping into Sandy's leather catsuit.

Two weeks into her rehearsal process, we discuss the pressure that comes with the iconic role, the ubiquity of high school-set musicals, and Olivia's advice for young performers.

What can audiences expect from this new revival of Grease?

We were discussing this with our director, Nikolai Foster, and we were saying that although it has elements of the Grease that everyone's expecting, it's a sexier, grittier version, a fresher take with some material you won't have seen before. The cast is so electric, and there's a lot of dance involved, and alongside the obvious iconic numbers we've also included some songs that aren't so well known.

I grew up watching the film and adored it, but there's that thing at the end with Sandy in leather where it's almost like she's changing herself for Danny. This production is more about female empowerment and individuals finding themselves rather than creating who other people want them to be.

Even at this early stage in rehearsal, there's been development in how I think about Sandy. I always thought of her just being sweet until her transformation at the end, but when reading the script I saw how that confidence is in Act One too. I'm starting to understand how much strength she actually does have. A lot of people can relate to how in some relationships you don't have the confidence to break away from what isn't good for you. She's strong from the get-go, but her pretty dresses and sweet melodies can be misleading!

How does it feel taking on such an iconic role as Sandy?

I think with any role, there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it. People think she's this sweet, innocent character, a bit of a pushover, but this production shows that personalities can be soft while also being strong, powerful, independent. When I sing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" especially, I feel that force that she has which gets forgotten. She has so much more to her personality than the sweet innocence.

As an actor, on some level when you're playing a character who's so iconic, there's a skeleton that should be honoured. Olivia Newton-John's portrayal is legendary, but every actor brings a percentage of themselves to the role. I can absolutely relate to Sandy: I was quite naive in my teenage years and was in my shell a bit, and thought I had to change to fit in. So every actor has these different experiences, and can understand the role slightly differently.

You've been in Heathers, another iconic film and musical themed around teenagers and high school, but from a different generation. What do you think is the appeal of stories like this?

I think when it comes to musicals set in high schools, people can relate to it, whether they've been to high school or they're about to go into high school and they're eager to start. They always highlight several different character types and help audiences find the character they relate to themselves. There's a really youthful energy to it.

I think stylistically those two shows are different, but I do definitely think that in both of them there's some really strong characterisation. In Grease, I think it's more subtle, but overall both shows have a similar theme of people being able to be friends despite their differences, and the different stereotypes they fulfil.

You recently graduated from drama school [in 2018, from ArtsEd]. What advice would you give to young performers?

I used to teach workshops during the pandemic and this question came up a lot, and sometimes I gave a 10-minute answer! It depends a bit on whether you're an amateur or professional performer, but there are a few main bullet points I'd highlight.

Work hard - you can never work hard enough - but also allow yourself that rest time. There's so much pressure in performing arts, even though it's so fun that we get to do this, so when it becomes overwhelming just take a breather. Be yourself, that's the main thing - don't mould yourself to be like someone else. Finally, be kind, support your peers. It's so easy to lose sight of why you do it.

Grease is at the Dominion Theatre 3 May-29 October - book tickets here


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