Grease still the word for new gen­er­a­tion

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

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.

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