Why singing isn’t required at the ‘Grease’ sing-a-long

Share Button

You know the guy at karaoke who owns the mic and drunkenly sings his soul out without giving a damn what people think? I love that guy.

But that’s not me.

I’m the guy who used to lip sync during grade school chapel because my voice sounded like Kermit the Frog. And there’s the rub. Because “Grease” is back on the big screen Wednesday with a special twist: Consolidated Theatres is screening the official, Paramount Studios, “Sing-A-Long” version as part of its Hana Hou Picture Show.

Now I’ve been a fan of the film ever since my older sister got the double-vinyl soundtrack album (with that sweet Rydell photo collage gatefold) and played it on an endless loop for what seems like years. In fact, I’ll admit my very first crush was on Olivia Newton John and those shiny black pants she was mercilessly sewn into. The more I think about it, no other film other than “Star Wars” has influenced my early childhood love of movies more than “Grease.”

Back in 1978, “Grease” was a phenomenon. Not only was it the top grossing film of the year, beating out ‘Superman” and “Animal House,” it’s still the top grossing musical of all time. Long before “Glee,” “Grease” was the original high school musical, albeit starring full-grown adults (at the time of filming John Travolta was 23, Newton-John was 28, and Stockard Channing was 33). And while considered a “family” film, try watching “Grease” with your kids today and pray they don’t get the references to broken condoms, a bun in the oven and Danny Zucco’s sin wagon.

Personally, it’s not the singing that’s winding me up for this screening. It’s being able to see the film in all it’s high-definition, Panavision, widescreen glory. Seeing Rizzo scowl in the corners of the screen during “Summer Nights.” Watching the packed frame of dizzying choreography during “Born to Hand Jive” and “We’ll Be Together.” And hearing, in deafening surround-sound, Travolta and Conway blow the roof off the multiplex with “Greased Lightning.” If you define great films by how much emotion they elicit, then a movie that makes you not only want to sing, but get out of your chair and dance, has got to be one of the greatest.

It’s a solid bet that this movie, set in the late ’50s and made in the late ’70s, is going to pack the house in 2013. And while I won’t be joining in this Wednesday, I hope you sing. When that bouncing ball drops on the first notes of “Summer Nights,” I hope you sing for your childhood and the first summer you saw “Grease.” Sing for the black leather jacket or pink satin bomber you always wanted, but never got. Sing like that guy who owns the karaoke room and doesn’t give a damn.

And if you happen to hear a froggy voice in the choir, you can be sure that it’s not me. Well, pretty sure. But I make no guarantees.

“Grease” screens on Wednesday, March 6, at 7 and 10 p.m., at Ward Consolidated Theatres as part of the Hana Hou Picture Show.

“Grease” nerd trivia:

• Director Randal Kleiser said they actually first previewed “Grease” in Hawaii. When the audience laughed at John Travolta’s chicken dance during “Summer Nights,” he thought the movie was a flop. He soon realized the audience was laughing because they loved the film.

• “Grease” was based on the 1972 Broadway musical. Ironically, Jeff Conway played “Danny” on Broadway while Travolta only played “Doodie” in a touring company.

• According to Stockard Channing, the “Hickie from Kenickie” in the film was actually given to her by Conway.

• Olivia Newton John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You” wasn’t in the stage show and was written specifically for the film. It received an Oscar nomination.

• In a brief cameo during the scene where Patty finds the frog in her purse, you can spot Michael Biehn (“The Terminator” “Aliens”).

• According to choreographer Patricia Birch, the “Hand Jive” was inspired by a dance kids were doing with a more raunchy name: the “Hand Job.”

Movie poster courtesy of MVNP

“Grease” Sing-a-Long Trailer