The Pink Ladies are back in the prequel series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, coming to Paramount+.
“The Pink Ladies pledge to act cool and to be cool. ‘Til death do us part, think pink!”
Audiences have seen and fallen in love with these women in iconic pink jackets, like Michelle Pfeiffer’s Stephanie Zinoni and Stockard Channing’s Betty Rizzo. Now, a new crew of pink-clad outcasts is making waves at Rydell High, and they’re doing it four years before Danny ever met Sandy.
“Four outcasts, including a brainiac good student, a scandal-ridden cynic, a tomboy, and a fashion maven, navigate the first day of junior year at Rydell High,” reads the synopsis for episode one.
Grease is the Word
Not only is the prequel an origin story for the Pink Ladies, it also expands the Grease universe and shares a powerful story about finding one’s place. This is especially true for the character Cynthia, who dreams of rocking a T-Birds leather jacket. Actor Ari Notartomaso, who uses they/them pronouns, spoke with editor Caitlynn McDaniel on the pink carpet premiere in LA about how it felt to bring this storyline to the small screen.
“Grease is such a beloved franchise, such a beloved musical and film. To be able to be a part of that and also be able to bring my authentic self and my queerness and all of our characters are able to bring parts of us that maybe we don’t fit in with the world in certain ways, to be able to bring that in this show, that’s so much fun. It’s so special.”
Telling New Stories
Grease is undoubtedly a classic film, but has long been criticised for its sexist and homophobic storylines. Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies hopes to bring representation to the franchise and tell untold stories.
“I love technicolor musicals, but really they’re just for a very small kind of person, it’s a very narrow target, those technicolor musicals. They’re really just for straight, white people, honestly,” said series director Althea Jones.
“We were really careful when we were looking at diversity to do a lot research based on high schools in California in the 1950s. And guess what? There weren’t just white street kids there, but there were all kinds of people.”
Niamh Wilson, who plays mean girl Lydia in the original musical series, said she can’t wait for audiences to see themselves within the world of Grease.
“There’s a storyline for everyone in this. I really think that it’s going to span multiple generations. There’s not really an audience that this isn’t for unless you don’t like musicals.”
The series follows in its predecessor’s footsteps and includes 30 original songs produced by Justin Tranter and choreographed by Jamal Sims. Annabel Oakes serves as showrunner with Jones as director and executive producer.