Grease still the word for new generation
ROB Mills won’t have the luxury of napping in Grease this time around. Back in 2005, when he was playing Johnny Casino in Grease – The Arena Tour, Mills says he used to catch some z’s until his song in act two.
‘‘But that was a long time ago. I was a young pup. I got sleepy very early back in the day. Now mum lets me stay up. Thanks mum,’’ he says, joking following a rehearsal in Sydney.
He might have a problem doing the same thing in a new touring production of Grease, in which he plays T-Bird Danny Zuko – the role made famous by John Travolta in the 1978 movie.
Travolta was known for his dance moves and Mills, who starred in stage musicals Wicked and Legally Blonde, admits it’s his biggest challenge.
‘‘The only pressure at the moment is the dancing for me,’’ he says, adding he hopes by the end of the show he may actually be able to call himself a ‘‘triplethreat’’ (a singer, dancer and actor).
Set in the late 1950s, the Grease soundtrack features now classic songs such as Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’ and Hopelessly Devoted to You.
Mills’ co-star Gretel Scarlett, a major Olivia Newton-John fan from back in the day, says she is looking forward to putting her own spin on Sandy.
‘‘I think there’s a little bit of pressure because we’ve got the home girl, we’ve got ONJ, so filling her shoes – she made it her own and it’s so iconic,’’ she says.
Veteran Aussie actress Val Lehman, best known for her role as Bea Smith on long-running TV soap Prisoner, brings her characteristic toughness to the role of high school principal Miss Lynch.
She says in a way, Grease allows her to relive an era – her teenage years.
‘‘I wish I’d had that much fun in my teenage years actually,’’ she says.
Lehman’s co-star Bert Newton, who plays DJ Vince Fontaine, agrees.
‘‘My teenage years are nothing like the teenage years in Grease,’’ he says.
As Fontaine, Newton says he’s continuing something of a tradition.
‘‘I’ve been the oldest wizard in the history of The Wizard of Oz and Wicked, so I’ll be the oldest DJ too and unfortunately, I’ll be the eldest in the cast,’’ he says, looking pointedly at Lehman. ‘‘I was hoping beyond hope . . . ’’ Grease’s star-studded cast also boasts Todd McKenney as Teen Angel.
‘‘I do one song in the second act,’’ he says, laughing.
‘‘It’s great. There’s Val Lehman, Bert Newton, Anthony (Callea as Johnny Casino) and myself. We all do like five minutes (onstage), so we’re going to be out the back, swapping recipes.
‘‘Oh we bow. That’s my longest part on stage is bowing. Bring it on!’’
Grease opens at the Lyric Theatre at QPAC, in Brisbane, on August 20 with seasons at Sydney from October 13 and Melbourne from January 2.
The cast of the new production of hit stage musical Grease (from left): Anthony Callea, Val Lehman, Gretel Scarlett, Rob Mills, Bert Newton and Todd McKenney during rehearsals in Sydney.