Old-world appeal Greases the wheels

Amelia Doolan as Rizzo in Grease, presented by the Townsville Choral and Orchestral Society. IMAGE: Sonia Warrell


As chills of anticipation for one of the world’s best-loved musicals multiply across Towsville, we caught up with Kate Retzki, Director of Townsville Choral and Orchestral Society’s Grease, to hear her thoughts about the power of poodle skirts and the allure of hair gel in pulling audiences time and time again into the drama of Rydell High.


The term 'everything old is new again' appears to be a self-fulling prophecy, in that, perhaps now, more than ever, does this old cliché seem so apt

Admittedly, I'm been swept up by the craze, finding myself adorned in swing skirts, listening to boogie woogie bugles and paying top price for furniture with the shabbiest paint jobs.

Even my musical theatre production choices as a Townsville Choral Society director have seen me searching for textiles and set pieces that hark back to a time long-past. Last year it was the great depression of the 1930s with Annie. This year we are tackling teenage-hood in 1959, with the 'more-popular-than-ever' Grease.

We are having a magnificent time, too. The girls are swishing in their poodle skirts, perfecting their winged eyeliner and tackling the jive. Meantime, the boys are learning the magic of hair gel, breaking-in their converse shoes and proving that real men know how to Hand Jive.

So, what is it about the retro revolution that has made hand-me-downs hip?

The Western World's post-World-War prosperity had the baby boomers obsessed with everything new and shiny, but now I find I'm saving all my two dollar coins to buy a vintage inspired SMEG refrigerator, to house my meatloaf, which I'll eat while watching Downton Abbey reruns, dreaming of a time that I'll get to wear elbow length gloves in a horse-drawn carriage.

Nostalgia is a powerful friend. It’s the reason we find ourselves with a sentimental yearning for a simpler time... often a time we weren't even born and, therefore, are ignorant of its faults. It's easy to forget the many issues faced by society throughout the decades of the 20th Century and, instead, simply embrace all the good bits.

Plus, there is a fact that these familiar, proven styles transcend time. There is a timelessness to some of the best vintage things - whether it's those pearl earrings or the 1964 Aston Martin. They are quality. Quality is desirable. They have innate beauty. Beauty is desirable.

So, as we draw closer toward the opening night of Grease, we are putting the finishing touches on the show. The bangs are curled and the lashes are twirled, ready for a new school year at Rydell High. The musical is true homage to a time when rock'n'roll gave teenagers their own dialogue for the very first time. It's absolute vintage indulgence.

Kate Retzki is the Director of Townsville Choral Society’s upcoming Grease.
Shows run from 8 – 18 February at the Townsville Civic Theatre.
For show times and tickets, click here

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