Fun and adventure were always present on the set of Grease, even when things didn’t go exactly to plan. Sean Moran, who worked on the movie as a dancer, remembers a particular instance when he and cast mates showed up to work beat red after a weekend of sunbaking. “The producers had a fit,” he says. “We all got horribly sunburnt and it took make-up forever to cover it all up.”
Despite arduous conditions on set, Moran’s favourite scene to film was the dance contest at Huntington Park High.
“The gymnasium was like an oven. Cast members prone to sweating were blow dried between each take,” he said.
“An extra fainted and was rescued by the set medic who was a 30-year-old hottie that half the boys fawned over. We loved him.”
Adding to the heat was the challenge of coordinating the couples’ dance routines and dialog.
“Olivia Newton-John was very nervous about the dancing,” Moran said. Originally, Sandy wasn’t meant to perform. But when choreographer Pat Birch saw that Olivia moved well, she included her in the Hand Jive number.
The iconic Summer Nights was shot in two segments.
“The girls filmed their part in June; the boys in early August,” Moran said. At one point between rehearsals and filming, Director Randal Kleiser and the Venice High principal got into an argument. Summer school was in session and the music was distracting students and teachers. The principle was so irate he asked cast and crew to leave.
But of all the classic scenes in Grease, You’re The One That I Want is without doubt the most talked about. Who can forget Sandy’s tight sharkskin pants. Moran said that, because the zipper on the pants was broken, it had to be stitched up while filming proceeded.
“A seam ripper was employed whenever Olivia had to use the facilities. She’d have to be sewn back into the pants afterwards.”
You’re The One That I Want, the brainchild of John Farrar, was an instant international hit and has since become the best-selling duet in pop music history. Based on its success, Farrar was recently asked to write another duet for Travolta and Newton-John. The track, I Think You Might Like It, is part of a new album that the two stars of Grease collaborated on.
Released in Australia on November 9, the holiday album, entitled This Christmas, also features Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Kenny G, Chick Corea and Cliff Richard. Keeping within the Christmas spirit, all sale proceeds are going to the Jett Travolta Foundation and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre.
Olivia says that she and John have always connected and that their bond is as strong as ever. “We’ve been through some amazing experiences together,” she said.
Who could have imagined back in ’77 that Danny and Sandy would still be rocking the charts over three decades later!
Follow Luke Brighty on Twitter via @brightlights_66