Madison Lagares on playing Frenchy in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies

Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, the prequel series to the beloved ’70s film, is streaming now on Paramount+. Fans of the movie were excited to learn that Frenchy is a part of the show. We meet her when she’s in middle school. She and her family moved from New York City about a year ago, but she’s still finding it difficult to fit in. Thank goodness, Frenchy has Rizzo whose teasing is friendly not malicious and who defends her against bullies trying to give her a hard time.

Madison Lagares plays Frenchy in the prequel with a scene-stealing lightness and comedy that captures the viewer’s attention. Though this series is about Jane, the leader of the newly formed Pink Ladies and Frenchy’s sister, one can’t help but wonder how a young Fran Facciano will grow to become the high schooler we were introduced to in Grease. She already has the nickname she’s known by in the original film thanks to Rizzo, how else will the prequel build her character?

I spoke to Lagares about her take on the iconic character, her hopes for Frenchy in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, whether we’ll get to see her in a musical number this season and more!

Madison Lagares on playing Frenchy in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies

Let’s discuss your turn as Frenchy in [Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies] because it’s such an iconic role. Did you study the original film or did you want to give an impression of the role with your own spin?

Well, it was a mixture between the two of them. In the audition tape it said to not imitate Frenchy’s voice and I ended up doing that for the audition and two of the callbacks. Then on the final callback I went like, “Oh, I’m just going to do the voice,” and my mom was behind the screen like “Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” but I did it anyway and they actually ended up loving it.

I was still new to the voice so after I started watching the movie over and over again to get the nuances and details of her voice. From there I made it my own. Her facial expressions and her mannerisms, I put it as a mixture of both Didi Conn and me, so I was able to make [Frenchy] original to me but also keep it true to Didi Conn.

It was really fun. It was a really good experience. I love being able to play Frenchy, she’s such a fun character. And I’ve watched the movie 38 times at this point.

You have great comedic timing. Is comedy something that you wanted to do or was it just something that came natural to the role?

It helps that the writers of the show are amazing and the script is phenomenal, but I think for a while I was more focused on dramas and being able to take on roles with emotional scenes, so when this was given to me I realized my potential when it comes to comedy. The more that I’ve been working on it, the better it has gotten.

I was scared to do comedy at first because I didn’t think a lot of people would laugh at the jokes so I avoided it for a while. But the more that I realized that I did have a knack for it, the more that I started working on it, I realized that people do actually like it and they find it really funny.

What was it like being on set and getting to be a part of such an iconic franchise?

Honestly, the first time I got there it was absolutely surreal for me. When we first stepped onto the set at Paramount Studios, it was a complete color bomb and it was a burst of “Oh my gosh, I just traveled back in time into the ‘50s.” Everything was in bright colors, classic hairstyles, the old, cool looking cars that my dad likes. It was crazy, I loved it.

I was really excited every time I would have a costume fitting because I’d get to see these amazing costumes around me, and I’d get to see ideas for future costumes for future episodes. Then I’d get to try on the poofy dresses. It was an amazing experience getting to be on that set.

Jane’s room is Frenchy’s room in the original movie. It’s the exact room from the movie. It was amazing to me, and I’m so glad I got to be a part [Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies].

Do you have a favorite set, besides the room that’ll eventually become Frenchy’s, and a favorite costume?

My favorite set would have to be the Frosty Palace. I love being able to see it and it’s so crazy how it’s exactly from the movie. My favorite costume? Honestly, it would have to be the pajamas. I really, really like those pajamas. If I could take them home with me I absolutely would. They were very, very comfortable and the color I think was just gorgeous. I felt like a ‘50s girl when I was wearing it. But I liked all of my costumes. I also liked the dresses with crinoline which is the poofy stuff at the bottom.

Madison Lagares. Photo Credit: Corinne Louie.

I know you have a musical background. Can we expect to see Frenchy have her own musical number in a coming episode of [Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies]?

Not in season 1. There aren’t any for me in season 1. But if there is a season 2, I’m definitely hoping for one. I’ve been training musically since I was six years old professionally. I think it’d be really cool to give Frenchy a song to sing or to sing with other characters. I feel like that would be such a cool part of her story to add that along to it. We’re just going to have to keep our fingers crossed for season 2.

What are your hopes for [Frenchy] in [Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies]?

I want people to have an aha moment with her to be like “Oh my gosh that’s how she became the badass iconic Frenchy that people know. The sweet, loyal friend.” This is how she started off and I kind of want it to be like her growing from being who she is in the first few episodes, and her learning from other people. Learning confidence and learning how to speak up for herself. And eventually taking the place of her older sister, who she looks up to, and becoming a Pink Lady herself.

So I think throughout the show I want there to be Frenchy taking herself into her own and building this relationship that she has with Rizzo which I think a lot of people really love. I love it, too. I think it’s a friendship that nobody knew they ever needed but they do. They call it Frizzo. We definitely need to keep that Frizzo thing going.

For season 1, definitely, it shows a lot of growth in the beginning to the end, and I’m excited for people to see more.

Do you have any other projects coming up and what would be your dream role?

When it comes to projects coming up, I’m constantly working. I just released a new song. It’s called “Us Against the World.”

I’m writing, releasing songs, working on music, and doing a lot of Broadway readings. That’s been really exciting because I’ve been in the city for rehearsals and studio work. And on top of that I have school as well so I’m trying to get as much out for you guys as possible. I also have my own Tik Tok page that I know a lot of people enjoy as well. I’m able to make harmonies and people can sing along to it and I also show a couple behind the scenes [looks].

In regards to dream roles, I always say this, it would have to be Christine Daaé from Phantom of the Opera. I think that role is such an amazing role to play, and I’ve loved it ever since I was a little girl. I watched the movie in the backseat of my car in my car seat on my way to kindergarten; I had it as a DVD. I would watch it every single day and it was amazing.

I love her character not only for the acting that she was able to portray and do but also because of her singing. I was actually classically trained in music before anything else. I went from singing Italian arias and operas to musical theatre. So that would have to be my dream role for musicals, but when it comes to TV and film, I would love to do something along the lines of The Last of Us. Or like The Hunger Games. I love dystopians and post-apocalyptic type things. I feel like it’s so intriguing and being on set for those kinds of things would be so fun. I also love the idea of running away from zombies.

Stay tuned to Hidden Remote for more Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies news and coverage! New episodes release Thursdays on Paramount+.