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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stony Brook chapter.

Before Grease was ever a word at Rydell High School the Pink Ladies were the ones shaking up the school with some moral panic as Madison Thomson, who plays Susan implied in my interview with her.
The show starts 4 years before Rizzo, French, Sandy, and Danny shook up Rydell High. Jane and Buddy were the talks of the town

The show is a wonderful homage to the original Grease.
The Rise of the Pink Ladies follows how the Pink Ladies came into existence which is, of course, due to teenage drama including exs rumors higheracies and mean girls. The choreography is exquisite and the music is impossible to get out of your head.

Here is everything you want to know about Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies
The show opens with Jane and Buddy going steady unfortunately then it goes downhill for the characters anyway- but it makes for some great drama and where there is drama we get some amazing song and dance numbers. So let’s start with the music:

Justin Tranter, the mastermind behind some of today’s hottest hits including Miley Cyrus’ River was tasked with the music for this prequel. He told me he wanted to make sure that he kept true to the type of music that the original Grease did with an update,

“The idea for me was always following the mothership of the of Greece, right and so Greece is very much a late 70s version of 50s Nostalgia […] so 50s Nostalgia has to be at the core, but just like the original did of using current rhythms and current things. I used a lot of modern low ends. I have some, you know, vocal rhythms that are way too fast for the 50s. Nostalgia being in charge but using the modern elements just like the original Grease did.”

One of Jane’s songs, “I Want More” is constantly stuck in my head. These tunes are ones that you will find roaming on your Playlist because while they fit the scenery perfectly they also fit today’s times perfectly.

If you are a Grease fan you most likely are familiar with some of the iconic dances including the gym dance-off and hand jive. I spoke to choreographer/director Jamal Sims who has worked with huge celebrates and a variety of projects from popular Icons to Encanto and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a 30th Anniversary, about his direction as well as how he decided to include some…let’s say sizzling dance moves in certain episodes. There is also a brilliant dance number among the stars that come later in the series that is simply breathtaking.

“I always wanted to make sure that I paid homage to Patricia Burch who was the original choreographer and so I always infused I want to make sure that we it felt familiar to the Grease audience, the dance, the moves.”
He went on to say how this isn’t just a movie or a TV show, “We were actually doing a real musical so we can take the liberties of having the technology that we have today in filmmaking and bring it into our show. (…) My thing is like I want to use all of our little tools in our tool belt.” Which they do especially in Hazel’s solo.

Now to the players! Like any high school, there are the popular kids, here called the Soc’s, the theater, the jocks and so on. So here are the main characters of Rise of the Pink Ladies AND everything that you need to know about them straight from the horses’ mouths:

Madison Thompson plays Susan who is Marsha Brady mixed with Regina George “She is little miss perfect at a beginning of the show, and we are coming back from summer and Susan’s boyfriend since kindergarten is Buddy and she finds out that her (ex) boyfriend is dating someone new and she is not very happy. In comes the pink ladies and all this change of idol and it really rocks Susan and makes her sort of reevaluate who she is and stirs up some moral panic of her own.”

Susan and Jane go against each other in more ways than one throughout the show and it is no doubt a familiar situation to many. However, it soon spreads further than just a little love triangle.

Buddy, played by Jason Schmidt is almost the quintessential boyfriend we’ve all dreamed about…. almost. He’s not perfect but he willingly makes an effort to be so. “Buddy is the golden boy of Rydell. He’s the quarterback. He’s the reigning student council president. He’s the son of the rich man in town and he is a man with a big heart, but who has a lot of lessons to learn along the way, a lot of which Jane and the Pink Ladies help him learn.” When I asked if Jason thought Buddy was truly trying to be the good guy he agreed.

Gil, who is a founding member of the T-Birds also holds the keys to THE T-Bird car is played by Nicholas McDonough . He describes Gil as “Everything a T- Bird should be he’s suave and cool and smooth and fast-talking and he’s also really weird and cheeky and goofy” While at this time they weren’t the coolest kids in school they still had an iconic car. When I asked Nicholas what it was like to be a part of an iconic scene that mirrors one from the movie he said it was exciting, freeing, and a bit nerve-wracking because there is a bit of pressure. He ultimately described his experience as Gil as exciting, freeing, and very fun.

Two characters we don’t quite get to know until later, become a big part of the story.

Hazel, played by Shanel Bailey, is the new girl in town. While Hazel doesn’t officially show up until a few episodes in, trust me it is worth the wait! She has a show-stopping number Same Sky.
“She’s really trying to observe the best way to get through the years. She’s a bit of an introvert. She’s a science nerd. She’s really really smart and has a lot of opinions but is trying not to rock the boat. And so we see her trying to find her place among this system and school that’s a school hierarchy that has already been built. So we just try to see her try to find where she fits in and how to not only survive high school, but to thrive.”
Bailey went on to say that Hazel reminds her of someone who doesn’t know her full potential.

Wally is shown throughout the series but doesn’t say much until a few episodes in. While he is on the fringes at first the character development is wonderful.

“He’s a Soci. at Rydell High so he’s part of the popular clique. He’s a star athlete there he has a beautiful girlfriend on the cheerleading team. And from the outside looking at, I’d say his life seems pretty perfect. But over the course of the season, you start to see his experience as being one of the only black kids at Rydell on sort of what he’s up against. And I’d say that certain events take place certain characters come into his life. That’s short sort of shift his vantage point and how he goes about.”

Onto the Pink Ladies: Jane, Olivia, Nancy, and Cynthia.
While Olivia has hints of Rizzo she is the only one I dare compare, because these ladies are something else. I will try not to give any spoilers Oliva is in a situation somewhat similar to Jane’s but not quite, the same goes for Nancy and Cynthia. But, why don’t I just let the actors tell you themselves?

Cheyenne Isabel Wells plays Olivia “At the beginning, we find Olivia in a pretty dark place the year before. She has a lot of rumors going around about her and people are just very mean to her. So she’s kind of in a just don’t talk to me. I don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m gonna stay in my corner you stay in yours. That situation.”

Marisa Davila plays Jane and describes her as thus, “She was a new girl last year in high school and has already gone through the troubles of the new girl and this is her second year here. So she’s trying to still find our footing but it’s just a little bit more confident in who she is and then she gets knocked back down right again from the beginning.”

Tricia Fukuhara plays Nancy. “When we find her at the beginning of the series, she does have friends but unfortunately they don’t accept her because she doesn’t have a boyfriend so they have outgrown her because she’s okay with being single. And she has other ambitions in fashion and she’s ahead of her time in our (the show’s) thinking and this has not been accepted. not only the students but the 50’s in general. And she’s not conforming when the 50’s want her to. Then she finds these other young women who are exactly the same, but different in their own ways. And they do support her and they allow her to be true to her.”

Ari Notartomaso plays Cynthia. Cynthia initially tries to become a member of the T-birds until she finally gave in to the pink. Cynthia’s character has a journey that many people, regardless of gender and sexual preference, can relate to especially if they discovered something about themselves in High School. While talking about their character Ari said to me,
“These people existed they these experiences these characters have existed in the 1950s. But for some reason, the media really haven’t been represented in media. And so it’s kind of time for us to tell these stories. They’re still just as campy they’re still just as fun. They’re great to watch and they have like full, full humanity intact for this show. And I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

Schmidt (Buddy) had a similar sentiment that explains how Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is the show to watch for more than just entertainment “Our world becomes increasingly more awake to like the hardships of others. I think Buddy in his own 50’s Way is a beautiful example of somebody who is living looking through a rose-colored lens and he believes life is this beautiful thing and all these opportunities come to him. But he doesn’t realize that the people around him, some people he cares about and loves very much, aren’t getting to live in the same world that he is and I think our world is always having that awakening and especially in the last couple of years has been a big thing. So I think what he’s actually a beautiful representation of (is) what a straight white man actually might be going through. it’s like opening his eyes and realizing okay, if I want to be this good person, that I tell people that I am, I have to start acting differently and I start after making I start I have to make space for the people who don’t have spaces and like with the privilege that I have it also comes with a responsibility to help people and to aid others in their in their life journey as well.”
Obviously, this is relevant today more than ever.

The show has a wonderful storyline with a lot of heart. Each episode has a bit of a message for people with how and why people did (and should) change. There are some very progressive and provocative moments in the story that while some moments aren’t realistic to the ’50 neither is having a musical number in the middle of class so it’s important to remember it is a fictional musical show that makes points relate to today with amazing numbers that will have you singing “I Want More” (Seriously I for one can’t stop.)

Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is now on Paramount+

I love writing about beauty, entertainment, fashion and accessories and more. I love musicals, singing, movies and all things beauty including hair! I've acted in movies, sung opera and won pageants. I also write fiction and many of my stories have been featured in anthologies.