Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Hurricane Sandy Dumbrowski

Considering how much I dislike the musical Grease, it's alarming how often the subject of that piece shows up in these pages.  When Jeff Conaway died a while ago, he inspired this Dance Party.  I also wrote about Grease when I saw the Olney Theatre production a year or more ago.  In both those entries, I mentioned that I earned my Equity card while appearing in Grease, so I guess it holds a certain place in my heart, though not for its artistry, which is minimal. 
"Alone At The Drive-In" is one of the nicer tunes in Grease, but was removed for the film to make way for a new ballad for John Travolta, appropriately called"Sandy".

The bullying of nerdy Eugene creates comic fodder in Grease.

I disagree with its message that "fitting in" with a popular crowd is motivation enough to completely change who you are.  In fact, this may be the only hit musical to feature bullying as an acceptable activity.
Grab those cigarettes and leather pants, girls, if you want to fit in! This film role turned Olivia Newton-John into a movie musical star, but only until we discovered she could not act.  Xanadu, anyone?
(But Grease is still a lot of fun to be in.  It's just not much fun to sit through...)

Perhaps inevitably, though, the show reappears on this week's Dance Party.  As everyone in the country must know by now, Hurricane Sandy is rumbling up the eastern seaboard, and everyone's getting all excited, particularly in the two branches of my current life, DC and NY.  Both cities are preparing to get hit with what they are calling Frankenstorm. 
Adrienne Barbeau and
Barry Bostwick went on to
lively careers.
I'll be watching Frankenstorm from my window on the 29th floor.

Well, the leading lady in Grease is Sandy, a sweet and sensitive character who is bullied into conforming to a stereotype in order to survive high school.  Nice message.  A year or so ago, as Hurricane Irene invaded the mid-Atlantic, an extra-special Dance Party (on a Saturday!) appeared in these pages, honoring the musical which bore her name, so why not continue that mini-trend and showcase the musical in which Sandy becomes a hoodlum?

The clip below is the longest to have appeared on the Dance Party, clocking in at 12 minutes of so, but it includes a medley of all those fun songs from the score.   
Ilene Kristen, the original Patty, went
on to a long career in soaps.

The event is the annual Gypsy of the Year Award, and the full original Broadway cast was invited to open the show. The performers are aging and grey, and you'll surely recognise Barry Bostwick, Adrienne Barbeau, and perhaps future stage director Walter Bobbie.
The original New York cast opened Off-Broadway, but the show was deemed Tony-eligible as it was produced under Broadway level contracts.  It received seven nominations, and lost them all.

Ah, those Magic Changes which happen as we age:
The original cast reunited in 2011 to perform this week's Dance Party.
The annual Gypsy of the Year competition is one of the premiere fundraisers for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights Aids.  In this clip, you will see the 2011 gypsies, as well as the Grease original cast.  I wonder if any of these kids were realizing that they were dancing and singing, side by side, with their futures.  Talk about a Halloween Horror!  To kill some time while Hurricane Sandy rages on, enjoy: