09/03/2014

Grease Is The Word and Bittersweet Symphony

Note: This is a two-part post - Grease is The Word and Bittersweet Symphony that attempts to encapsulate my experience at Grease The Musical. The former is a review, while the latter provides a background story on why I felt "bittersweet" at such a fun musical. If you have 10 - 15 minutes to spare, please read the whole thing. It will mean a lot to me. Thank You!

GREASE IS THE WORD: A REVIEW

Grease the Movie needs no introduction, and if you live in Australia, Grease The Musical, headlined by Rob Mills and Gretel Scarlett has been making waves this summer is the must-show musical right now!

Currently showing at Her Majesty's Theatre, the show was my first musical experience... and what an experience it was: Stellar cast, vibrant and elaborate (period-appropriate) stage set and wonderful song and dance. It went in there with an expectation of just a reiteration of the movie, but the musical offered so much more that I was blown away by it. In fact, the passion and hard work each of the cast and crew had put into the production almost made me tear at the opening scene. I could post a full review with a breakdown of scene-by-scene..but I will not, because you have to experience it to understand what I meant that Grease the Musical is truly the party of the year.

My sister, Michelle, and I had such a wonderful time at the musical and we even got to meet some of the cast members after the show. It was our first time "stalking" someone at the stage door waiting for photographs and autographs, but it was so much fun (Hopefully not at the expense of the cast members!)

1. Gretel Scarlett/ Sandy Olson
After watching Grease The Musical and meeting her in person, I am having a major girl crush on this woman! What a clear, crisp and wonderful voice. Gretel's Sandy is the original Sandy, but with a Gretel sass. Seeing Gretel IRL (that's in real life for gaming nerd talk) was like looking at a real Disney princess in front of you. She is simply beautiful! I could listen to her sing and talk all day. I love her style and just the general positive vibe she has, Gretel: Maybe you can work on audiobook :)



2. Rob Mills/ Danny Zuko
The man needs no introduction. From the moment he appeared at the stage door, all the girls and women were all "Millsy! Millsy!" and despite just getting off the stage after singing and dancing for two hours, Millsy spoke to everyone and obliged every photo and autograph request. The funniest thing was how nervous we were to meet him. I was stuttering unknowingly while Michelle hyperventilated!


In support of the production, we also purchased a recording of musical so we could relive the song and dance, and of course, we got our favourite cast members to autograph them!


It was with that we ended the last summer night of 2013/14 on a super high note, which was ironic, considering I started the night in a sort of bittersweet sentiment... and if you have 5 minutes to spare, here's why:

BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY

In November 2013, we heard news that Grease The Musical is coming Down Under, with a solid cast consisting of Rob Mills, Gretel Scarlett, Bert Newton, Sam Ludeman and others! While I was ecstatic, my sister, Michelle, who was a musical lover was even more excited for it. Such was her passion that she flew up to Sydney to catch it a few weeks after the show opened to raving reviews.

It was during her time in Sydney that my grandmother fell ill suddenly due to a blood infection (septic shock). As each Instagram photos of Michelle having an amazing time in Sydney come through, I was struggling on whether to let her know of our grandma's condition. After discussing with our parents, we decided to keep it from her until her return to Melbourne.

It was a relief to see Michelle walk through the door two days later - all smiles and gushing about how good Grease The Musical was. Yet, it was heart-wrenching to be the one to bring her down from the post-musical high to reveal that our grandma was very ill, with the possibility that she would never get better. Being the tough cookie that she was, we hugged and comforted each other.

Perhaps we were in denial of what was happening, or trying desperately to cling on to a sliver of hope that grandma would somehow get better, we started discussing Michelle's experience at Grease The Musical - the vocal talents, the set, the props, and of course how hot Rob Mills was. That night, Grease and the amazing experience it had given my sister was the driftwood that we clung on to avoid drowning in sorrow.

In the face of death, we seem to appreciate life and its gift to us more than usual. Michelle said I should watch the musical too. When I said none of my friends are into musical, she offered to accompany me to watch it again. She jumped on Ticketek and found tickets to the closing show on 28th February 2014 (Note: the show has since been extended to 30th March 2014), the day she was scheduled to return to Melbourne from her summer holidays. Now, I am not the type of person to make an impulse decision (it took me six months to decide if I should get an iPad). But on that night, we purchased two (premium) tickets to watch Grease The Musical in Melbourne, without the blink of an eye, that set us back around $300, which was not a small amount for us.

Thinking back about it, our impulse decision to watch the musical again was a way for us to face a bleak situation: It was something fun, something in the future that was planned and controlled. It gave us the courage to live and look forward to the future in a time when we knew that a loved one was slipping away from us.

That night we went to bed praying in fervour for our grandma to get better, yet our mind was desperately hoping that tomorrow (or February 2014) could be better, because we would be watching Grease The Musical.

Alas, my grandma, while showing great determination and courage in her battle to ward off the infection, left us the very next day. My siblings and I did not make it in time to say goodbye. The following weeks and the last days of 2013 was marked by grief and sorrow, which gradually healed and/or hidden as the daily grind kicks in. Yet, there was always something that triggered the memory of her, which would bring dark clouds to my days instantly.

So, I would like to thank all cast and crew of Grease The Musical for bringing a few hours of pure music, fun and joy to our lives. That night meant a lot for both my sister and I...and guess what, we are returning for second round this month!

Grease the Musical is now playing at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne until 30th March 2014. For show dates in Melbourne or your city, plus tickets and much more,  please see http://greaseistheword.com.au/.

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