The idea of a Grease prequel gives us chills, they’re multiplying. So, it’s a good thing that new prequel series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies promises to be electrifying.
EW has an exclusive first look at the series, which was created by Annabel Oakes and returns audiences to Rydell High — this time in 1954 when the girl gang known as the Pink Ladies is first being formed. But just because it’s a prequel doesn’t mean they’ll forget what came before.
“Fans of the original should be happy,” says Oakes. “We call Grease the mothership and we always are talking about how we have to pay homage and respect the mothership.”
The original Grease, itself based on a stage musical of the same name, starred Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, as girl-next-door Sandy and greaser Danny, who must contend with the challenges of high school and the judgment of their friends as they try to find a way to make their relationship work.
Oakes, who was most recently a writer on Minx, grew up a huge fan of Grease and Grease 2. “My first dance performance ever was to ‘Grease Lightning,’ which I performed in several local malls and parking lots,” she quips.
Because of her devotion to the original film (and many Halloweens spent in poodle skirts), Oakes was initially skeptical about creating a prequel to Grease for television. “I thought, ‘Nobody needs a new Grease,'” she says of her reaction when Paramount first approached her. “The original Grease is absolutely perfect. But then, I thought about it for a second and I thought, ‘What unanswered questions do I have from Grease?’ Because everything was tied up really nicely with Danny and Sandy. But I was like, ‘What was up with the Pink Ladies? Were those were girl gangs real?’ I started googling and I found out that there were real Pink Ladies at the high school of the original creator of Grease, Jim Jacobs.”
You won’t find Frenchie (Didi Conn), Jan (Jamie Donnelly), Marty (Dinah Manoff), or Rizzo (Stockard Channing) here though. Instead, we meet a new group of ladies, led by Jane (Marisa Davila). Though, the legacy of the original wasn’t lost on the cast. “It’s a really big responsibility bringing something this iconic back,” says Davila. “Getting to be in the same colorful universe was the way we connected to them and honoring what they were able to do.”
Davila describes Jane as a bit of a nerd, saying she’s perhaps most similar to Jan in the 1978 film. “She is just passionate about fairness and wanting to be everybody’s friend,” adds Davila. “She comes on a little too strong and is learning that her incredible personality isn’t always accepted by other people. She wants to do what’s right. She leads with her heart. She’s a student first, so as much as she tends to be a leader, she learns something new every day from her friends.”