It's still the word. After more than 30 years, Grease still has groove; it's got meaning. And it's got former teen idol Frankie Avalon onstage when it comes to town this week. "What's great about the play is that there are no surprises," Avalon says. "People have seen it . . . I don't know how many times. If you're not singing along with it, sitting in your seat, then you're humming it or you're mouthing it."
In the production at the Palace Theatre, Avalon reprises his Teen Angel role from the hit 1978 movie version of the '50s-centric musical, complete with a rendition of "Beauty School Dropout." The show also features three hit songs from the big screen that weren't part of the original stage production: "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "You're the One That I Want," and the title tune. Prior to the show, the Grease DJ will spin oldies; afterward, Avalon returns to the stage to croon his hits, including the chart-topping "Venus." "I couldn't just get out there and do just one song," he says.
"It's a complete evening of entertainment for families. Nobody's going to resent going to see Grease. It's probably one of the few truly family shows out there." For proof, he says, look no further than the audience, which is made up of babies, grandmas, and everyone in between.
More than anything, Avalon says, he's happy to be along for the mere thrill of the trip -- nostalgic and otherwise. "I've always had a warm feeling for Cleveland. I started there a long, long time ago with a disc jockey [Bill Randle] who was very kind to me. And I've been there, through my career, so many times. It's a great place [for a show like this].
"And, as we say at the very end of the play, Grease is still the word." See. We told you.