“What can I say about this cast – You’re The One That I Want!” enthused Australian theatre producer John Frost this week when he introduced his new production, the iconic Grease, in the ABC studios in Ultimo, Sydney.
The show stars Rob Mills as Danny, Gretel Scarlett as Sandy, Anthony Callea as Johnny Casino, Stephen Mahy as Kenicke, Lucy Maunder as Rizzo, Todd McKenney as Teen Angel, Bert Newton as veteran disc jockey Vince Fontaine, and Val Lehman as Miss Lynch.
Grease definitely has pedigree: created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in 1970 with a non-professional cast of 18 actors and a $171 budget production in 1971 in Chicago it grew to a motion picture in 1978 and multi-million productions all over the world.
For Scarlett being the new Olivia Newtown John in theAustralian production is a lot of pressure.
“Big shoes to fill; she was our Australian girl. I respect everything that she did. The role is so famous that you can’t stray too far away so you don’t upset people,” she said. “You stay in a box but put a little bit of yourself into it. It is exciting!”
Such a popular musical can be very challenging: Mills too has to face the massive legend around his character Danny.
“It’s all about getting in shape here. Danny is a nice guy; he’s not as bad as he makes himself [out to be]. Dance is my biggest challenge in the show but it’s probably the funniest one I’ve ever done.”
Callea, playing Johnny Casino, has to get into a whole new world too as musical theatre is not something he is familiar with.
“I think it is really important to challenge yourself and do things that you would not necessarily do on an every day basis,” he said. “You know for me this is a bit of fun as well. Who doesn’t love Grease?”
Of all the musicals, Grease is really about having fun, celebrating and partying.
“If you over think this character too much, you could possibly complicate it. I think the whole idea of walking into this role is to have some fun with it and just be confident with it,” Callea said.
The cast showed great energy and chemistry performing “Grease Is The Word” with Scarlett, Mills and Callea showing that even 42 years later, Grease can still shake up a party.
“Grease is my favourite musical and I have no doubt it will again be everyone’s favourite party musical,” Callea said.
Grease will open at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre on August 20, with seasons at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from October 13, and at her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from January 2. 2014.