Make us your home page

'Grease' still has a spot in Olivia Newton-John's heart

Associated Press

Associated Press

Remember that scene in Grease, when Olivia Newton-John's virginal Sandy realizes that the only way to seduce John Travolta's randy Danny was through the power of hot pants?

In the name of journalism, Stuck in the '80s podcasters Sean Daly and Steve Spears watched that scene 322 times in preparation for an interview with the one and only ONJ, now 60 and still a pop princess.

The blond, blue-eyed Grammy winner will play Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Tuesday. As well as touring behind her know-'em-by-hearters (Physical, Magic, Make a Move on Me), she also oversees the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in her native Australia and has joined husband John Easterling in raising awareness of rainforest deforestation.

And yet, she still had time for a couple of mooks like Sean and Steve. That's why we love her.

In this excerpt from the interview, ONJ talks about becoming "bad Sandy," her favorite duet and who she thinks is cuter: Zac Efron from High School Musical or Travolta from Grease?

This interview is basically the highlight of our lives.

Oh, right!

Seriously. For 30 years, we've always wanted to ask you this: When you filmed Grease, were you more "good Sandy" or "bad Sandy?"

Aww, I'm not telling you.

What?! You have to tell us!

When I first read the script, I was really nervous about the second character, because I never played anyone like that. But once I got the clothes on, it just came naturally.

Yes. The hot pants. Very nice. On the Oscars, Hugh Jackman declared that musicals are back. We're thinking this is the perfect time for you to return to the big screen.

Goodness, that would be fun. That would be wonderful.

Maybe you can reunite with Grease co-star John Travolta? Do you guys still talk?

Yeah, we stay in touch. We have a wonderful friendship going back a long way, and we'll always have that.

Speaking of a long way back, you started as a country singer, then you became the biggest pop star on the planet, and now you're rediscovering your roots. In concert, do you rework the old hits to fit your current sound?

Basically, I don't change things much because I remember when I was a young girl and I went to see one of my favorite singers and I wanted to hear the songs the way I remembered them. And she changed them. And I thought, gosh, if I'm ever lucky enough to be that successful, I'll remember to do my songs the way they want to hear them.

Who was that singer?

(Laughing) I'm not telling.

Please tell us you have Xanadu songs on the set list.

Of course I do! I love those songs.

We both owned that soundtrack on vinyl and CD. You'll see us singing along from Row M.

So I can remember the words by watching your lips!

Steve here loves your song Suddenly, your duet with Cliff Richard. In fact, he sings it at his desk once a day, which is highly annoying.

That is a beautiful song. I sang it on my last tour, but the wonderful singer who does it with me couldn't come on this tour, so I'm not doing Suddenly. But I sing so many other ones. Mention some other songs!

How about Twist of Fate?

God, you like all the rock 'n' roll, don't you? Now I'm going to have to talk to my band and revise my set list and all.

High School Musical is often compared with Grease, so settle this once and for all. Who's cuter, Zac Efron or John Travolta?

Oh, of course, John Travolta! No one can beat Danny Zucco!

To hear the full interview with Olivia Newton-John, go to E-mail Stuck in the '80s at Sean Daly can be reached at or (727) 893-8467.


Olivia Newton-John, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $39.50 -$74.50. (727) 791-7400

If you go

Olivia Newton-John, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. $39.50-$74.50.

'Grease' still has a spot in Olivia Newton-John's heart 03/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 7:34am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours