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A World of “Summer Nights”

June 26th, 2012

John Travolta in "Grease". Image via google.

It’s officially summer. And you know what that means. Bowling in the arcade. Drinking lemonade. Making out under the dock. Staying out ’till ten o’clock.

If you don’t recognize those phrases then…what are you doing reading this blog? It’s “Summer Nights” from Grease, perhaps one of the most well known by laymen and karaoke’d songs in the music theater cannon. Seriously, I can still do the choreography from the movie and match John Travolta’s breathy “ewh” toward the end of the song without having to even think about it. And I know you can, too.

You want proof of how ubiquitous the song is, how it’s doo-wop, he said/she said veiled smuttiness has permeated our culture? Look at these videos from around the world showcasing the many flavors of Summer Lovin’…

Didn’t that feel unsettling? The movie is so vivid and embedded that the original Broadway cast seems like a group of aliens masquerading as humans doing Grease.  What I love, though, is that Barry Bostwick (alongside his original Sandy, Carole Demas) is so confident in his interpretation; even though this performance was recorded 13 years after the Broadway opening and well AFTER the movie’s blockbuster release, he is a defiantly non-Travolta Danny. Then again, we always knew he had cajones.

Now compare this Spanish production which seems determined to recreate the movie scene…minus the English, of course. It also seems to be taking place in a theater the size of an airplane hangar.

Whatever these Greasers (I assume Israeli) lack in choreography and slick camera work, they make up for in complex equations on the white board. Sandy and Danny, rocket scientists. Love.

Finally, nothing captures the essence of 1950’s teenage love like a ballerina and male figure skater (Natalia Somova and Maxim Marinin) both out of their natural element and shaking their groove things on a bizarre Russian reality show. Brilliance!  Summer nights know no borders.

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