Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Musical-obsessed family

Mike and I have always loved the theater, and while he was on the stage in school, I was behind the scenes, doing props, working the box office, or ushering. Beaverton High School had a phenomenal theater department, and I got to see the shows for free when I worked.

We've been season ticket holders at Portland Center Stage for over 15 years, and we also regularly attend the Northwest Children's Theater. Theater, storytelling, and music are part of our family culture.

Our children, however, have taken it to a completely different level. This week Chris has tried out for the middle school spring play, "Grease." I remember loving "Grease" when it came out as a movie at the end of my junior high school years. As a big Olivia Newton John fan, it was right up my alley. Last summer we went to see a kids' company production of "Grease," and I was dismayed at the content and implications. Sandy becomes a "bad girl" so she can get the guy? The "geek" in the school is constantly made fun of, with vaguely homophobic slurs (such as implying that he is a girl). Drag racing and smoking are glorified.

Then I start thinking about other classic Broadway musicals, such as "Bye Bye Birdie" or others. How many of them have wholesome and modern sensibilities? Their plots are really completely silly and often shallow!

Sometimes I feel that we are already overly strict with what we allow our children to watch (especially when it comes to violence)...and then I think I'm probably being paranoid. It's too late anyway. Kieran loves to watch the movie version of "Grease." I just hope he doesn't turn out to be a hood!

At any rate, last year after seeing the play, we had a "Grease" obsession going on for quite some time. Kieran began "greasing" his hair back every day (with hair gel) and pretending to be Danny Zuko. Nick, for some reason, wants to be "Sonny."

Now that the "Grease" audition process has started (the cast list will be posted on Friday), Kieran and Nick are back in full "Grease" mode. We are listening to the soundtrack again, and they are both wearing their leather jackets around. Nick in particular loves to sing all the songs at the top of his lungs! Thank God the lyrics are over the heads..."Tell me more, tell me more, did he get very far?" not to mention "I've got chills, they're multiplyin', and I'm losin' control...cause the power you're supplyin', it's electrifyin'!" And then there's "Feel your way!" sung in a lusty, lascivious tone of voice. But the worst has probably got to be: "You are supreme, the chicks'll cream, for Greased Lightnin'!"

Sigh. At least the melodies are contagious!

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