one of the real, Very some arguments that virtually all movie and TV fans can agree on is that “Grease” is great. The 1978 musical — starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as two high schoolers who find their summer romance tested by the social dynamics at Rydell High School — is the kind of timeless, feel-good entertainment that is practically impossible not to love.
The film rode the wave of 1950s nostalgia that swept the nation in the 1970s (see: “Happy Days” and “American Grafitti”) to become one of the most recognizable films ever made. An incredible songbook that includes all the tempos, from the solo of “Summer Nights” and the duet of “You’re the One That I Want” to Frankie Avalon’s dreamy “Beauty School Dropout” make this the kind of movie which you can rewatch anytime, anywhere, and almost always enjoy.
How do you put your own twist on such a beloved property? It’s a tall order for any creative team, but “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” met the challenge head on. Annabel Oakes’ Paramount+ series turned back the clock at Rydell High, transporting audiences to 1954 for an expansion of the “Grease” mythology. Bettie Rizzo and her Pink Ladies might have supported the players in Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson’s romance, but there’s no denying they dominated the school. And so, “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” explores the formation of the iconic girl gang: shedding light on the women who paved the way for Bettie’s reign.
“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” will be featured as a panel at IndieWire’s Consider This FYC event this Saturday, June 3rd. Production Director/Executive Producer Alethea Jones, Choreographer Jamal Sims, Costume Designer Samantha Hawkins and Head of Hair Jaala Leis Wanless tell us how they brought these checkerboard pastel days to life.
Recreating the aesthetic of “Grease” is tricky because the film’s upbeat, candy-colored portrayal of the 1950s has become a distinct cultural relic in its own right. Designing the costumes and scenery for “The Rise of the Pink Ladies” wasn’t as simple as researching the time period. The team had to capture and recreate a fantasy version of the era that has shaped pop culture’s understanding of history for the past 45 years.
And then, of course, there are the musical numbers. “Rise of the Pink Ladies” came up with a new slate of songs to expand the canon of “Grease,” and the whole team of craftsmen had to make sure their work could stand up to the vast choreography conjured up to match.
“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” is proof that the “Grease” brand is still alive and well, and that sentimentality for Rydell isn’t going out of fashion anytime soon. She reads on to see how the team pulled it off, ahead of Emmy and IndieWire’s annual Consider This event in Los Angeles on June 3.