Sing-Along Grease

film_grease_smAt Sing-Along Grease, an auditorium full of strangers dressed up like Pink Ladies and T-Birds can belt it out as loud as they want. It's like singing in the shower, in a (dry) group.






Galaxy 14 Cinema, Chesterfield, Mo.
Wed., Aug. 22, 2007

When I was 17 my friend Dave and I went to see some movie (I can't remember which one), and he bought some licorice at the concession stand. During the movie, he was eating the licorice, when the guy sitting in the seat in front of him turned around and asked him to please stop crinkling his candy wrapper—it was making too much noise.

Dave, being a natural-born asshole, waited several seconds, and then proceeded to hold the bag of licorice just behind the man's ear and twist it violently to make a loud noise. The man arose to kick Dave's ass, at which point Dave apologized profusely, and the man backed down.

I guess that's why I can't remember the movie. It probably sucked, and the confrontation in the cinema was much more interesting.

Anyway, you can crinkle all you want at Sing-Along Grease. You can heckle and make raspberry noises and do the whole Mystery Science Theatre 3000 bit, too. Interactive cinema is a ball, especially when you are singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" or some other schmaltzy Olivia Newton John tune in falsetto.

film_greaseAnd there are props. The $20 Sing-Along Grease admission fee includes sunglasses, a comb to run through your greasy locks, break-it-and-shake-it glow lights, party poppers, bubbles and so on, to be used at strategic points in the movie. (The party popper, for instance, is popped when Sandy and Danny kiss just before the opening credits.) An enthusiastic young host in a T-Birds leather jacket encouraged us to yell certain jokes at certain times. For instance, whenever the leader of the rival Scorpions gang comes onscreen, we booed. And whenever Frenchy (and who doesn't love the adorable Didi Conn?) was shown, we were instructed to say "Frenchy! Ooh la la!"

The jokes and the heckling of onscreen characters was fun, but the real fun was the singing. You don't have to keep your trap shut at this movie, and everyone reads the lyrics to the "Grease" theme, "Greased Lighting," "Born to Hand Jive," and all the songs projected onto the bottom of the screen, and sings along. In fact, you can sing your lungs out. You can sing poorly. You can sing in falsetto, you can sing like you're at a Baptist revival, you can sing haltingly like William Shatner. You can sing earnestly or ironically, warmly or guiltily.

If movie musicals like Grease, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chicago, Cabaret, or Blue Hawaii make you want to sing, this sort of opportunity is a rare pleasure. (You can only cram so many people into your living room for a night of Netflix'ed Hair or All That Jazz. And your neighbors might not take kindly to the noise.) At Sing-Along Grease, an auditorium full of strangers dressed up like Pink Ladies and T-Birds can belt it out as loud as they want. It's like singing in the shower, in a (dry) group.

And dammit, I like Grease. I like the Barry Gibb-penned theme. I like the luscious Marty Maraschino (like the cherry). I like Rizzo's wisecracks. I like John Travolta's mook-ey voice. I like seeing great old character actors like Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, and Dody Goodman.

And maybe most of all, I love the moral messages of Grease. Frenchy teaches us to stay in school. Rizzo teaches us to go ahead and go for it, even when the condom is broken. But the biggest lesson of all is reserved for Sandy, who teaches us that happiness is achievable—if you take up smoking, wear black Spandex bottoms, and "put out."

Now that's a song I can sing. | Byron Kerman

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