Hand jives, poodle skirts and greased hair are making a comeback Saturday for the Theatre of Western Springs’ first-ever movie sing-along to “Grease.”
Tasked with bringing the ’50s into full swing, audience members are encouraged to dress for the decade and sing and dance along to the classic about a summer love that happened so fast.
Host Joe Savino, a TWS teacher who has led 500 sing-alongs for various movies at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre, kicks off the evening with a warm-up vocal and dance lesson. But he doesn’t expect fans will need much reminding about catchy lines they memorized long ago from “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightning” and the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” Just in case, attendees will be able to follow colorfully animated lyrics timed with the movie on screen.
A costume parade caps off the 25-minute pre-show. And while there are no winners, a few of the best will be gifted with tickets to the theatre.
Savino plans to imitate John Travolta’s swoon-worthy character Danny Zuko — topping off his look with a greased up ducktail — and said there can never be too many T-birds or Pink Ladies. He has also been witness at past sing-alongs to men dressed as Stockard Channing’s sarcastic fan-favorite character Betty Rizzo, others as the movie’s high school coach, and even some “Grease” buffs as Bucky Beaver from the toothpaste commercial that airs during the girls’ sleepover in the film.
Things get kicked into high gear for showtime.“The audience takes over,” Savino said. “You can perform right there from your chair, or some people will even jump up and go down the aisles to do the hand jive.”
A sing-along is a rare chance to break the traditional rules of dark and quiet movie theaters.
When Travolta makes his entrance, cue the whistling. And when Olivia Newtown John comes on screen as good-girl Sandy Olsson, everyone must yell “aww.” In fact, audience members are welcome to shout out anything at anytime during the film.
Each moviegoer will also be given a handful of props to use during different notable moments in the movie. They will have pom poms for cheering, and party poppers for Danny and Sandy’s big kiss at the carnival in the movie’s ending scene.
“It’s a way to honor the film,” Savino said. “And it’s about the audience forgetting their problems, singing along and having a great time.”
He stressed that there is certainly no talent required.
“No one really cares about how beautiful they are, or how good they sound,” Savino said. “Those big notes — people just love belching them out.”
TWS fundraising chair Jennifer Jermano Miller of Indian Head Park plans to include a movie sing-along each year during the theatre’s performance series. She hopes parents will bring their kids out for the family-friendly event, or maybe women will want to make it a girl’s night out to reminisce.
“We look for different events that will appeal to everyone,” Miller said. “And who doesn’t love ‘Grease’?”