Summer nights, sigh. We miss them! But we can definitely have fun reliving one of our all time favourite summer movies of all time! Grease The Musical has hit the stage in Toronto at the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre (until January 7, 2018) and what a fun way to chase the cold nights away! (yeah, that’s me singing along, don’t judge!)
This revival of the greatest high school rock musical stars Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars) as Sandy, Katie Findlay (How to Get Away with Murder) as Rizzo, and introduces Dylan S. Wallah (Summer Blink, (Blank) My Life) as Danny.
Annie Chen, who’s also joins this star-studded cast, plays Frenchy! You may recognize Annie for her reoccurring role as Lily on Designated Survivor (opposite Keifer Sutherland). She’s also performed with Lady Gaga and PSY. Her TV and film credits also include The Strain, Odd Squad, Private Eyes, and many more.
We had a chance to check in with Annie recently to talk about Grease!What do you love about your character, Frenchy? She’s a fun character!
AC: I love that even though she’s a bit of a hot mess she is being proactive and trying to figure it out. In this version of Grease, Frenchy is more gutsy and unapologetic than what audiences are used to. She’s still the “nice” one compared to the rest of the ‘Pink Ladies’ but there’s definitely more of an edge to her.
What are the challenges of taking a well-loved movie full of memorable songs to the stage?
AC: I think one of the challenges was to introduce new concepts and show the audience how far we’ve come as a society since 1959 but still staying true to the vibe of that era. In terms of character work for the members of the ‘Pink Ladies’, our amazing director/choreographer Josh Prince (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) wanted to modernize each character (Rizzo, Frenchy, Marty, and Jan) and add elements of girl power that were often not encouraged of women in that time period.
Does this production stick true to expectations from the movie?
AC: I definitely think it meets the expectations of the movie and then some. We’re performing the original book and score by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs. All the classics that the audiences fell in love with are included in addition to some new songs that were not in the film. It’s kind of like watching a movie that you love but experiencing the extended edition.
Is there something that happens in the musical that we might not notice but should look out for?
AC: Nothing happens that is an “inside joke” or something that you have to watch out for. The show allows the audience to sit back and enjoy all the stunning visual projections, comedic elements, truth, everything that made them fall in love in the first place with Grease but with a modern twist.
Any funny stories with the other characters, it’s a great cast!
AC: I am absolutely in love with my cast! We’re all goofballs and we have the best time on stage together. Everything is basically a funny story. I actually started rehearsals with a 12-hour jet lag because I had just flown back from Taiwan two days prior and also ended up with a sinus infection due to exhaustion. I remember not being able to pick up the simplest dance step in rehearsal and thinking to myself “how is it possible that I’m not getting this?!….oh right, its 4am for my brain right now. It’s definitely more funny now than at the time.
Your favourite song from Grease?
AC: My favourite song from the show is ‘Grease’ (Is the Word) we had the legendary doo-wop king Phil Burton (Human Nature) rearrange some of the songs and it sounds incredible. Then of course my next favourite would be ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ I can’t give too much away but many viewers have commented that this version was their favourite so far.
So, during your down time what have you done in Toronto or plan to do?
AC: During my downtime, I usually catch up on life because everything gets pushed to the back burner during show days. I am busy doing interviews and promoting the show and other aspects of my career. When I have time off, I like to go to archery target practice but I fully plan on living the life of a sloth if things ever start to slow down.
You’ll be wrapping up here just before Christmas. What’s next?
AC: I’ve got some things in the works that I can’t talk about yet so stay tuned! Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @annie8chen
Awesome! Thanks Annie!!!
For ticket information visit www.greaseonstage.com
Need a little pick me up? Here’s a behind the scenes, sneak peek!