Jim Jacobs Henry Hewes - Essay

Henry Hewes

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dispensing with the conventional charm and nostalgia one might expect, Grease takes a tough midwestern city high school named Rydell and describes its coarseness with unsentimental accuracy. The opening scene is an anniversary to which graduates of the class of '59 return. They sing a typical alma mater, which, of course, is utter hypocrisy. Suddenly the boring decorum is shattered. The alma mater uproariously changes to a mocking cataloging of their real and mostly scatological memories of Rydell. The banquet table disappears, and the graduates re-enact scenes from their last year at school.

This makes Grease different from the Best Foot Forward kind of musical that uses the youthfulness of its performers to enchant us. In Grease we are always aware that the performers are more mature than the teen-agers they are depicting, and therefore they can be harsher and more unflinching in their parody of their former selves.

The plot follows a dozen kids through typical high school incidents, with its main thread being a "romance" between Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski….

Ultimately, of course, there is a "happy" ending, with Sandy deciding to run with the pack and enjoy the same kind of sexual liaison with Danny that some of the other girls have with their uncommitted boy friends. Does this bring her true love and happiness? Probably not. But she does find her new personality...

(The entire section is 465 words.)