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Put On Your Poodle Skirt And Get Ready For ‘Grease’

After 25 years, “Grease” is no longer just another musical. It has become a leather-jacketed, bobby-soxed phenomenon.

Consider the evidence:

The Broadway revival of “Grease” has already gone far beyond the 1,000 performance mark, and is doing such strong business that it might someday surpass the original 1970s run of 3,388 performances.

Broadway audiences routinely show up a half-hour early to dance in the aisles during the pre-show sock hop.

To accommodate Broadway demand during the holidays, the national touring company moved into a Broadway theater, meaning that two “Greases” were doing sellout business within six blocks of one another in December.

The 1978 movie version was one of the most successful movie musicals in history, and it still pulls monster ratings whenever it airs on cable, according to Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Even the music is back in the Top 10: “The Grease Megamix” was a major chart hit in December.

Which helps explain why the “Grease” tour, which hits Spokane Tuesday through Feb. 23, is threatening to sell out all eight performances. As of early this week, only 500 tickets remained out of 21,000.

And that’s despite the fact that this tour is a non-Equity tour (not the same as the Equity tour that played Broadway in December) and despite the fact that it features no big-name stars like Rosie O’Donnell and Brooke Shields, both of whom had stints in the Broadway revival.

However, this tour features Christine Hudman as Rizzo, who, according to reviews so far, ought to be a big-name star. Apparently, she has been stealing the show since September, when this Troika Organization tour began.

“I deliberately didn’t go see the Broadway version, because I tend to mimic what I’ve just seen,” said this Texas native, now living in Manhattan. “I wanted this character to be mine. Of course, I grew up with the movie, with Stockard Channing (as Rizzo), and I recently had a review say that we were similar.”

Rizzo is what might be called a tough broad, the leader of the Pink Ladies. Hudman said she is not like that at all.

“But it’s fun for me to do that, to dive into that world,” said Hudman.

She, too, is amazed by the resurgent popularity of “Grease.” “I’ve thought a lot about that, and I think it has a lot to do with the music and how it appeals to different age groups,” she said.

The ‘50s rock and doo-wop appeal to her parents’ generation, who lived through it; to her own generation, who grew up with the movie; and to young kids today, who have seen it over and over again on video and cable.

This tour features a seven-piece combo and colorful sets that hearken back to the original Broadway production. It is directed by Ray DeMattis, who played Roger in the original Broadway version and in the national tour with John Travolta.

By the way, you might want to get to the theater early. This tour also runs a pre-show sock hop, beginning 20 minutes before curtain.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

MEMO: “Grease” will be staged at the Spokane Opera House on Tuesday, Wednesday and Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.; Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $26 to $33, available at G&B Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT. Some performances are sold out.

“Grease” will be staged at the Spokane Opera House on Tuesday, Wednesday and Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.; Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $26 to $33, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT. Some performances are sold out.

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