Grease was the word at the Redford Theatre on Friday, May 18, 2012, along with the rest of lyrics to the songs of the hit movie of that name from 1978. Hundreds of moviegoers lifted up their voices in song during a sing-a-long version of this modern classic starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
This warm spring evening was filled with a variety of entertainments, including a classic 1956 Packard in front of the theater.
A hula hoop contest was won by the pictured young lady in the blue skirt, who kept the hoop spinning for 10 minutes and 22 seconds.
Many audience members dressed up in 50s clothing, adding to the nostalgic feeling of the evening.
As usual, the tasty and economically priced snacks at the concession stand helped keep visitors happy. The popcorn, candy, and soft drinks helped the crowd maintain a high energy level throughout the show.
It was a fun and unique experience to hear hundreds of voices echoing around the nearly 85-year-old auditorium. The crowd got into the spirit, adding extra emphasis to phrases like “Tell me more, tell me more” from “Summer Nights,” and “Ooo, ooo, ooo,” from “You’re the One that I Want.” And the most “hopelessly devoted” fans of the movie stood out with their expert rendition of the hand jive and their fast-paced accompaniment to the nonsense lyrics of “We Go Together.”
Different layers of nostalgia were at work, as we watched a 34-year-old movie that, when first released, was looking back about 20 years to the late 1950s. A special pleasure was seeing Joan Blondell in one of her last movies, only a few weeks after the Redford showed her in one of her first (The Public Enemy). The 47-year gap between those two films showed no change in her unpretentious friendliness and humor.
Grease came out in June 1978, and I remember full page ads in the Detroit newspapers for three Paramount Pictures movies that summer—Grease, Foul Play, and Heaven Can Wait. Many people probably first saw Grease at long-gone theaters like Quo Vadis or Movies at 12 Oaks. Looking back, those theaters weren’t as fancy as many theaters that came both before and after them, but they will always remain the places where many of us first saw entertaining movies of the 1970s and 1980s.
That was also the summer we first saw the first full season of the famous Detroit Tiger double play combination of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, along with other players (Jack Morris, Lance Parrish) who led the Tigers to the 1984 World Series championship. Here in 2012, the fun night at the Redford was capped for many people with the news that current Tiger Justin Verlander had nearly pitched a no-hitter in a 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in downtown Detroit.
Copyright © 2012 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.