The original Grease movie is of course iconic! The musical production is known for many things, including its memorable songs and dance numbers. With Paramount+ series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, we of course can expect to see the same thing! The show will feature all-new songs, as well as a fun adaption of a familiar tune.
The 2023 series takes place in 1954 at a time where the girl gang didn’t exist just yet. But it’s thanks to four smart and brave gals who are ahead of their time that the group even exists! We’re going to see the origin story of the Pink Ladies, started by Jane (Marisa Davila), Olivia (Cheyenne Isabel Wells), Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso), and Nancy (Tricia Fukuhara).
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Hidden Remote had the opportunity to speak with executive music producer Justin Tranter and choreographer Jamal Sims about adapting the iconic song “Grease is the Word” both musically and through dance, as well as which original song was their favorite to take on. Read on below and make sure to scroll down to the end to watch the video interview!
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Justin Tranter and Jamal Sims talk music and choreo in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies
Adapting “Grease is the Word”
Hidden Remote: The first episode starts with “Grease is the Word,” the song from the original movie. It was such a fun way to start the show and introduce the characters. What was it like to adapt it through song and dance?
Justin Tranter: In the movie, you just see it over the animated opening credits. So it is a straight up disco song purely of its time, of 1978. But in our version, we were going to see the kids in their ’50s costumes and I was just like ‘they can’t be singing a disco song in ’50s clothing. That cannot happen.’ But I worship this song, how do we pull it off? Sort of making our ’50s amalgamation of this iconic ’70s disco song was our vision and we stuck to it. And when we finally saw the final product I was like, ‘I think I made the right choice.’
Jamal Sims: There was a lot of discussion about this song because it would inform the movement as well. It was so hard to step outside of what the original was and everybody’s love for the original. And Justin was like, ‘just trust me, I know what I’m doing.’ That was a pure, brilliant decision and I know it wasn’t easy for him because we were so locked in on it. But after we got it, we understood it. It was so much joy and I really wanted to pay homage to Patricia Birch, the original choreographer, because I was a fan of the movie for years. But also because now with this new version of Grease, we were able to push it and actually add so many more elements to the piece. It was so much fun.
HR: Which musical and dance number was the most exciting for you to take on?
Tranter: For me the most exciting is an easy answer because I was so desparate to work on this project. I met with Annabel Oakes, our showrunner and creator, and said ‘let me just demo for you. I’ll read the pilot. Let me just write a song for you and prove to you I’m the right person for the job.’ So the first song I wrote was “New Cool” which Cynthia sings in the pilot. And I just love that song, I’m so proud of it. So pretty psyched on that one.
Sims: “New Cool” was one of the first ones we were able to work on. And [we knew] this was going to be very special just hearing the track. And then being able to do a homage to “Grease Lightening” was like, ‘oh my gosh we’re about to kill it.’ It was just super exciting and the energy of the song really does represent what we were trying to do for the whole series.
Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies premieres Thursday, April 6, 2023 on Paramount+.