Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poodle Skirts Revisited (or Seeing "Grease" in St. Louis)

It really started thirty years ago when John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John hit the big screen as Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in the movie, “Grease”. Something about that movie caught my daughter’s attention, and every chance she had, she watched it -sometimes several times back-to-back. Back then, Blockbuster was into rentals only and getting your own copy was hard to come by, but we managed. By the time she outgrew the movie, the VHS tape was practically bare (Yes, that was way before CD & DVDs!).

Back then, I enjoyed sewing for my daughter and myself. Today, I know where the alteration shops are – the idea of doing anything with needle and thread sends me into total panic. My daughter wanted her very own poodle skirt. So the good mama that I was, we went to the fabric shop and picked out the fabric, gray wool, and the fleece needed to make the poodle. Knowing how I worked back then, I’m sure the skirt was completed before I went to bed and ready for her to wear the next day.

As the years passed and we made several moves including the big move from North Carolina to Tennessee, the poodle skirt was always gently packed to make the move with us. For years it hung in her closet and survived many spring cleanings, even after she had married and moved out of our home into her own. Two children later, it still hung in the closet just waiting for the day it would be revived and worn again.

Fast forward to the summer of 2008 when Taylor Hicks joined the Broadway cast of “Grease” as Teen Angel. About the same time, my younger granddaughter discovered the “skirt” and began to want to wear it. It was about six inches too loose in the waist and down to her ankles. She didn’t care – she admired that skirt with all her little heart.

Then when Taylor Hicks joined the national touring company of “Grease” as Teen Angel, I’m sure the younger one was sure she’d get to go. Not so fast, little one. The older one got to go first, just before Christmas to Durham to see the musical. She enjoyed it, so why not take a trip down memory lane with the younger one.

After much thought about it, my daughter gave her blessing to take the little one to see “Grease” in St. Louis, provided she got treated to the show as well. Now I can’t just take mama and baby without taking the older granddaughter, so it was going to be a girls’ week-end. We were all going to go to St. Louis to see “Grease”. The poodle skirt was about to get packed again!

As we prepared for our trip, I thought long and hard about the “skirt”. It was just hanging on the closet door, ready to make its way into my suitcase. I knew it was still too big for the younger one, but I also knew how much it meant to her to have the opportunity to wear it. And maybe for me to have the chance to relive those “Grease” days of my daughter again. It was carefully folded and placed on top of everything else. I would surprise her Saturday morning with it.

While the younger one was showing us her week-end choices to wear, it was obvious she really didn’t have the right top to wear with the skirt. Not yet fashion-conscious, she put the skirt on over her long top and tights, slipped into her boots and announced she was ready to go. The skirt was quickly sliding down her hips. Quick thinking (I knew I would probably need safety pins) and with three safety pins, the skirt’s waistband was now in the proper place. There would be no convincing, bribery or anything else to get her to leave the skirt behind.

Anyone who stopped to speak to her found out the skirt had been her mother’s many years ago. She was as proud of that skirt as her mother had been when it was first made. And I couldn’t help but feel pride in the way she wore it and made me feel about her wanting to wear it and tell its story.

For anyone who has seen “Grease”, you know the story quite well. I’m not going to confess how many times I’ve seen the musical, but let’s just say this was a magical week-end to see it.

In December, Ace Young, another alumni of Season Five of American Idol, joined the cast as Danny. He did such a good job as Kenickie in the fall of 2008 that he was asked to come on the road as Danny!

From his first scene to his last as Danny, I would have sworn John Travolta was back on the stage. Ace’s voice, being a bit higher in pitch, sounded so much like Travolta that it was eerie! I was as taken by Ace’s performance as I have been by Taylor’s Teen Angel. After the matinee my daughter asked me if Ace was playing Danny – she thought it sounded like him and it also reminded her of Travolta. She told me I was a bad mama – I had failed to tell her Ace was in the cast! I had told her, but she wasn’t paying me attention!

As the musical continued, both granddaughters were glued to the stage. The older one would later describe the show as “beast” (I think that means good in teen terms today). For a kid who talks a blue streak on any topic without taking a breath, it was hard to get anything more than one-word descriptions of the musical out of her. She liked it, Ace was ‘beast’ and her favorite scene was with Taylor and Frenchy when she was all over him. After that, she went back to taking about anything and everything else non-“Grease”.

The younger one, now she was the real critic. During the drive-in scene when Danny is trying to kiss Sandy, all I heard was “gross, yuck, too much kissing, stop…..” OK, so she’s only eight! She laughed when Danny was trying hard not to “touch” Sandy’s chest, but I don’t know if she really understood what was going on. But then, at her age, she thinks kissing is sex (don’t tell Bill Clinton).

On the ride home, we were discussing the musical. The younger one summed it up quite nicely. We were laughing about what Frenchy has said as she saddled up to Taylor in their scene. You know the part – she makes different comments, like “nice butt, hot damn, cute tush…” The younger one laughed and said “she said ‘hot man’”! We left it alone at that!

St. Louis was a good stop for the show. When we came out after the matinee and evening performances, the crowd to see Taylor Hicks was six or seven deep and the line for getting their CD signed was so far back in the lobby that I couldn’t see the end. It seems like we waited for thirty minutes or more before we could get close enough to see or snap a picture or two.

If you haven’t seen “Grease”, especially since Ace Young joined the cast, please go. He is terrific as Danny. I’m delighted he has been given the opportunity because he deserves it. Of course, Taylor Hicks is wonderful as Teen Angel with that blue sequined suit with the wings studded on the back of the jacket. Don’t leave before the curtain call – you don’t want to miss Taylor singing “Seven Mile Breakdown”.

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juliegr said...

What a nice gesture and a great opportunity to share those "girls' day out".

Laughing at the "mis-interpretation" of the 8 year old! :D

RagsQueen said...

You really had to be in the car when the little one said that! We were trying hard to stiffle our laughter!

And she sat quitely through two shows on Saturday - never bored but enjoying every second. She told her sister didn't blink the entire first act!

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Anonymous said...

Randy Mandy . The Broadway script through the ears/mind of a young child was wonderful to read. It is good that things were lost in translation.

Having possessed a poodle skirt and never really liking it in the 1950's, this blog journey took me back to those days of many crinolines and bobby socks. I never liked the poodle skirt because we had beagles and boxers at home and poodles were not on our list of "real" dogs. I took my wardrobe very seriously in those days.

It was such a joy reading about your trip and this viewing of Grease will just add more memories for you and your grandchildren.

Thanks loads Rags.


san said...

What a wonderful story about the poodle skirt. And, YES, I remember MY poodle skirt! Some had little chains on them.

It is wonderful to see young people enjoy the theatre. And their comments are honest and real! You must have all had a great girls weekend.

I would love to see Ace in "Grease."

Thanks for sharing your experience. It was fun to read!

CFPhilfan said...

I got your blog from a Google alert for Ace Young, :-). Thanks for your recap and your kind words concerning Ace. I enjoyed your youngest granddaughter's critique, too, lol. Taylor is great as Teen Angel, and I'm proud of Ace. Thank you, too, to Taylor, for mentioning the role of Danny to him. Ace said in interviews that Taylor had told him of the part, and we are glad that those related to "Grease" thought enough of him and his talent to give him this opportunity. I have not yet had a chance to meet him or see him perform, but have thoroughly enjoyed recaps, videos and pictures of him. For those who have not yet seen him, there are several youtube links of him as Kenickie. There could be a few as Danny, although I know security has been tight. So there may not be as many yet. His fiancée, Allison Fisher, plays Patti Simcox in the show. It is cool that he met her on Broadway, and that they get to tour together. They will be married in the summer.

mond105 said...

Thank you Mandy for a wonderful recap. Your granddaughers reactions are priceless. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Wonderful recap. Your Daughter is just like mine. Loves musicals and loves to dress up. I have a closet half full of her costumes she's never going to part with. LOL.
Loved to hear about the long lines buying the CD's and getting autographs!!!!!!!


Gr8fulheart said...

What a great story, Mandy. The details were so vivid, it was almost like being there with you; watching & listening to your little ones. How funny ~ the misinterpretations from your granddaughter. I can almost see the faces: Gross ~ Yuck! I laughed for the longest time.

My SIL had a poodle skirt. I thought it was rather strange looking, since I was not quite in that age group yet.

It is wonderful that people of all ages are enjoying 'Grease'. This experience is one your family will be able to share in the future; knowing it will bring more laughter.

Thanx for sharing your experience with us♥

Louise said...

Thanks for sharing Mandy. Grease is the all-American musical. So glad it turned into a family affair for you and your girls.

PatP said...

What a great story Mandy. I have two granddaughters and one is eight so I can really relate to this story. Love the poodle skirt...had one myself that I truly cherished. I sewed as well when I was younger and am in awe of the poodle on that is amazing!

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