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There are worse things I could do (than go to Grease)

October 7, 2009
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Last night we got to use the first of our season tickets to the Durham Performing Arts Center. (Technically somebody else used the first ones–it was our least favorite show, and we didn’t have time that week.) The show was Grease, featuring Taylor Hicks as the Teen Angel. My husband asked if I’d ever seen the movie. In the words of Danny Zuko, "Don’t make me laugh… ha…. ha…" Then I detailed for him the differences.

But here’s the big difference. I’ve heard people object to the movie because it’s about a girl who changes herself for a boy. But it’s not. They both change. I think of it as a high school romance version of "The Gift of the Magi." She wanted a preppy, so he joined the track team. He wanted a Pink Lady (or at least she thought he did–discuss), so she called Frenchy and tarted herself up. At the end of the movie, I always wondered what Sandy looked like the day after the carnival. Or after she inevitably married Danny. Maybe it was a mixed marriage–Mama Sandy in pearls and a circle skirt holding a baby T-Bird dressed in diaper and tiny leather jacket.

But in the musical we saw last night, Danny derails this defense by quitting the track team when the coach asks him to get a haircut. Sandy shows up in Spandex, and Danny’s still the same greaser. Tried being a letterman, and it just didn’t work out. It’s not the same ending! Not the same story!

I’ve gathered (OK, accepted Wikipedia as truth) that the musical has been increasingly sanitized over the years. (Even in the movie version, they were able to call Greased Lightning a name that was too taboo for the Durham stage.) But I wasn’t able to conclude whether Danny’s wholesomeness was one of the changes that happened for the movie, or if it’s an evolution that’s happened on the stage. Either way, it’s a bummer.

That said, great show, and I like the new theater. We have nosebleed seats, but I didn’t mind at all. And that’s in comparison to our last show, sitting in the second row at the Progress Energy Center for Jersey Boys. Next up is Phantom! I can’t wait to see how that one gets produced. I hope the chandelier is awesome.

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