Olivia Newton-John’s death sparks memories of ‘Grease,’ early days of live theater

It’s been a while since I’ve had something that reminds me of my high school days, at least when it comes to some of the more important moments.

The passing of Olivia Newton-John, known as Sandy in “Grease”, brought back such memories, which I will always remember fondly. More importantly, it’s something that taught me the importance of something like local theater.

2005 was my senior year at Franklin High School. As part of the school choir, we put on a musical in the spring every year. The year before, we did “Singin’ in The Rain”, where I not only had my first experience on stage, but also singing solo. You’ll also learn about all the mishaps and frustrations of rehearsing choreography.

To call it a crash course in tap dancing would be to put it lightly.

For my senior year, our director chose “Grease” as the annual musical. Even though I couldn’t call myself a fan per se, becoming one of T-Bird’s greasers with my classmates sounded like a lot of fun. And it was.

Being up there in our leather jackets, talking wisely and smoking prop cigarettes was so cool, and it wasn’t terribly hard to “get into character” as they say.

This image released by the Library of Congress shows Olivia Newton John, left, and John Travolta in a scene from the 1978 film

Although our school’s production of “Grease” was one of the most fun times I had in those four years of high school, it wasn’t until 10 years later that I realized at how important the experience was and how it would play a role later in life.

I believe it was around 2015 that I got a call to be part of the Maury County Arts Guild production of “Legally Blonde.” Of course, having only two credits under my belt in high school, I was a little hesitant at first, but I ended up doing it anyway.

Again, this was one of the most fun productions I had been on, and something I kept coming back to want to do again and again.

The way the experience made me appreciate those high school musicals was simply the fact that we were all amateurs, and the only expectation we had to have was whether or not we were having fun together.

That’s what makes local theater important, because you’re not looking for an Oscar, to earn your first-class ticket to Broadway. It’s about having fun and celebrating classic stories, laughing at comedies or being compelled by epic tragedy.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta star in the 1978 film Grease, which was re-released on Friday to celebrate its 20th anniversary.  As the increased sales of videos and albums indicate, Grease still remains popular.  Photo AP.

It was sad to hear of Olivia Newton-John’s passing after battling cancer for so many years. And while I can’t really delve into some sort of fandom or how his work has been a big part of my life, I do appreciate that one of his most famous roles played a role in something meaningful. in my life.

That, if any, is something to be grateful for.

Jay Powell

Jay Powell is a reporter for the Daily Herald. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JayPowellCDH.