I have a feeling I was assigned to cover Cinema 21's Sing-Along Grease
as penance for my harsh review of Stumptown Stages' geriatric production this time last year of the evergreen musical (you know, the one paid for by and starring Corey Brunish, with the O
's Margie Boule as a cardboard Sandy). So be it. But damn if I wasn't going to make a night of it, so I invited two gay buds along (one of them celebrating his 24th birthday, how precious is that) with the understanding that if it sucked, I'd buy post-movie drinks. If it rocked, then I'd be treated.
Long and short: Sing-Along Grease
was some kind of delirious musical comedy wet dream. The audience, song-happy boys and girls from ages six to at least 76, gamely tramped through every song (and surprisingly much of the spoken dialogue) of this classic movie musical. Many were dressed and wigged for the occasion. The theater was packed.
I drank really well that night.
I'm early at the theatre (note to self: remind Aaron Mesh to correct showtime in next WW listing of the event; it's 7:30 dude)
, so I head next door to Muu-Muu's for a drink: mandarin and soda with lime, six bucks. My two friends, Chad and Nick, arrive fifteen minutes later. “There's a line out the door at Cinema 21,” Chad says. “Let's go.”
We're in the door (twelve bucks a pop) and the lobby is teeming with pony-tailed, poodle-skirted little girls in twenty shades of pink. Grease
goodie bags are handed out for the night. The contents: a black comb, dark sunglasses, pink glowstick, bubble-gum cigarette, tiny bubbles and a “party popper” exploding device. We grab seats, about halfway back, center.
The theater is hopping. There sure are a lot of damn kids here, especially for a movie this, well, adult. I'm not sure what an eight year old girl would make of Sandy's transformation from a soft-hearted romantic to a leather-bedecked cigarette-smoking hooker. But I'll leave that conversation to the parents.
Pre-movie chatter: Chad reveals he auditioned for his high school's production of Grease
(12 years ago, natch) and was offered the part of Danny – but had to turn it down because of his involvement on the high school track team. He's still reeling.
Three ladies of a certain age have donned their glasses and – cigarettes in hand – are taking cute photos of each other with their camera phones.
Finally, we're starting! Local actress Debbie Hunter, all dolled up like Sandra Dee, leads the audience in Grease
warm-ups. We practice the Hand-Jive call-outs (“chang chang, changidy-chang, sh-bop!”) and the dance moves to "Greased Lightnin'". “I see a lot of little Pink Ladies and T-Birds out there,” Hunter says. “You know what that means – don't be mean, and keep it clean.” She also cracks jokes about the BeeJees and leads dressed-up audience kids and adults in a costume contest. The amazing thing is that Hunter's actually very funny and not at all annoying. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.
I exit during the adult costume contest (le yawn) to nab some M & M's. I run into another gay friend in the lobby. “I've been drinking since noon,” he says. I'm jealous.
The film is fired up, the music starts. Everyone in the audience is reassuring their neighbor: “I am so excited! This was such a good idea! OMG I can't wait!” At the first delicious liplock by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, a chorus of “party poppers” explodes in the house. Talk about shooting your wad early.
Umm, I don' remember all this social unrest and graphic sexuality in the opening cartoon/credits…
Thank God, we're at the first number, “Summer Nights,” and the crowd goes bonkers. “Then I told her we'd still be friends,” Travolta sings to his T-Bird pals. “You know that never works,” a 40-something woman sighs to her friend in front of me.
“Brusha-brusha-brusha! Get the new Ipana!!!!!” bwahahahahahahahahaha. It truly never gets old.
Can we talk for one minute about some of these lyrics, please? Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, what the eff? To whit, in “Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee": “Keep your filthy paws / Off my silky drawers.” See, "paws" rhymes with "drawers." No, really.
It's “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and the pink glowsticks are out. And then Travolta's face appears in an inflatable pool. This movie is so brilliant I can't handle it.
The choralography is in full effect on "Greased Lightnin'” – the audience is hitting all the moves. My two friends and I are instead fully focused on the silver lame jumpsuits. “Was this before or after The Village People?” Chad asks. We ponder that.
The audience is maybe feeling a little fatigued… but then there's a lovely cascading shower of bubbles released during “Beauty School Dropout.” Cute.
The dance at the gym!
OK aaaaand we're hand-jiving!
That 40-something woman in front of me just piped up again: “Let's do the hand JOB!” she bellows, and laughs very obnoxiously. Nearby parents throw her a steely glare.
OK, and a big finale, with Sandy and Danny taking center stage – the audience goes nuts! More party popper explosions.
Sandy's all “Alone at a Drive-In Movie.” A bunch of college age kids are heckling her on the screen. Then they scream “Jump, weiner, jump!” (OK, you had to be there.)
My God, Stockard Channing is a great actress (plus she's just hot shit!). Her big aria of despair, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” is completely shattering. Wow wow wow.
OMG please let's discuss the slow-motion effects in the drag race. Brilliant. ALSO, I've discovered where the heart of the character of Danny lives, and it most definitely resides in his pelvis.
The Carnival dance scene is just too much… oh jesus, I totally forgot about “We Go Together!” Shades of high school vocal music camps, of ex girlfriends and boyfriends… and what ever happened to my high school friends anyway? Breanna, Stephanie, Vanessa, Brandon, JaCory…? "Together forever, like buggedey-buggedey-buggedey-buggedey, shooby do-wop, do-wop!!!!" OK, WHY AM I CRYING????? I hate this movie.