The original production of “Grease” became a hit on Broadway and ran for almost eight years.
However, it’s the 1978 film with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John that most will remember.
But Adam Berger, director of Arizona Broadway Theatre’s version of “Grease,” believes it never prevents anyone from seeing the show and having a good time.
“Everybody knows it because of the movie,” said Berger. “But it’s endured the test of time because it’s a fun story about high school.”
The musical, which opened last week, is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School and follows several teenagers as they navigate love, cars and drive-ins. The main plot revolves around bad boy Danny, who meets nice girl Sandy over the summer. The two reunite at their high school, only to be separated until they both maneuver through their clicks.
Andres Acosta, who portrays Danny Zuko, said “Grease” is the template for other musicals such as “High School Musical” and “13.”
“This is considered the first high school musical that really delves into the lives of the students and all they go through,” Acosta said.
Laura Devine plays Sandy and believes “Grease” has stood the test of time because of the music.
“There is this great rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it all that makes you want to hum the music and just tap along to it,” said Devine, who makes her ABT debut.
Acosta said that’s what makes the music appealing, particularly for the characters in the show.
“Rock ‘n’ roll was taboo back in the ’50s and this music gave the kids a sense of freedom that was invigorating during the time period,” Acosta said.
Popular songs in the show are “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “We Go Together” and “Beauty School Dropout.”
In addition, Berger said the stage version is a chance for audiences to become acquainted with the other songs that aren’t in the film.
“Many people don’t know some of those numbers, so here’s an opportunity to do just that,” Berger said.
Acosta said he was excited to step into such a famous role.
“I love playing Danny because he’s cool and a leader,” said Acosta, who appeared in “A Chorus Line” at ABT this season. “But I also found an innocence in him that I hope comes through.”
For Berger, “Grease” presents him with the opportunity to double as the musical director and director of the production.
Berger has been the music director for a number of shows at ABT, but never helmed the direction.
“There is a challenge trying to do both, but I think they go hand in hand,” said Berger. “It’s been quite exhilarating and exciting.”