When the musical “Grease” hit Broadway back in 1972, my best friend’s Doug’s dad, an investment banker, purchased 10% of the show and basically has been getting paid every time any of the songs from the smash hit show (and yes, even the 1979 movie with the same name, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John) are performed.
The good news, for a certain young wannabe performer, was that Doug’s family took me to see that show at least six, seven or ten times before the summer camp I attended in upstate New York put on “Grease” as our summer production in 1974.
And, even though I didn’t get to star as Danny Zuko — the role created on Broadway by Barry Bostwick (later, the silver-haired mayor on the Michael J. Fox TV sitcom “Spin City) and reprised by Travolta in the film — despite being the only kid in camp who had memorized every word of every song, I did get to play both Teen Angel (played by Frankie Avalon in the movie) and Johnny Casino, with two solo songs (“Beauty School Dropout” and “Born to Hand Jive”).
Therefore, when I heard that the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel (the club Jannah and I belong to, which meets for lunch at noon every Wednesday at Omari’s Grille in the Lexington Oaks Golf Club) was going to put on a free, socially distanced “Grease is the Word” Singalong event (on Saturday, March 13, 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., at Land O’Lakes Heritage Park, 5401 Land O’Lakes Blvd.) — starring deputies from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office against firefighters from the Pasco Fire Rescue department — I knew I had to get involved.
To kick off that involvement, I re-created my role as the Teen Angel (in full costume; photo) at a recent Wesley Chapel Rotary meeting, which was enough to get me an invitation to sing the song again at the “Grease” singalong” event.
I’m obviously pretty excited about the opportunity to be on hand as a part of my childhood is revisited once again, and I hope that at least some of you reading this also will attend — even though my Rotary Club is located in Wesley Chapel and the deputies and firefighters competing (for three prizes; I’m pretty sure I’m not eligible) are from Pasco County, because not only is “Grease” the word — it’s also a heckuva lot of fun!
And, speaking of fun, here are some fun trivia questions about one of my all-time favorite musicals:
1) How many Tony Awards did “Grease” win in 1972?
2) Who played Rizzo in the original Broadway cast and what TV show did she begin starring in 1972?
3) What hit song sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the “Grease” movie was not in the original Broadway show?
1) Zero. The original show, which held the record for longest-running Broadway hit (later broken by “A Chorus Line,” was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, but did not take home any hardware.
2) Adrienne Barbeau, who played Maude’s daughter Carol on “Maude.”
3) “You’re the One That I Want.”