School cancels Grease musical production after students complain it's "offensive"

23 November 2021, 16:40 | Updated: 23 November 2021, 16:51

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta starred in Grease
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta starred in Grease. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Two Australian schools have axed productions of classic musical Grease after students complained that it's sexist and anti-feminist.

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It has been reported that pupils at Presbyterian Ladies' College (PLC), in Perth, claimed that the 1978 musical contains ‘offensive and sexist’ themes that don’t reflect modern-day Australia.

Grease was due to be performed by students both at PLC and Scotch College, but this has now been cancelled.

PLC principal Cate Begbie and acting Scotch College headmaster Peter Burt said: "A number of PLC students raised concerns whether the musical was appropriate in modern times.

"Scotch College listened respectfully to the girls' concerns and both schools agreed a different musical would be better suited for their joint production in 2022."

Grease is one of the most successful musical films of all time, and originally starred Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta as Danny and Sandy.

It follows their love story set at Rydell High School, with Danny is seen as the ‘bad boy’. Sandy begins as a ‘good girl’ before changing her appearance to keep his interest at the end of the film.

Grease has been the subject of controversy with some viewers in the past, with a handful of commentators branding it ‘misogynistic’ on Twitter.

Moments from the film that have been selected for closer scrutiny in the past have included when the T-birds sing "Did she put up a fight?", when Sandy is made fun of for being a virgin, and when Rizzo (Stockard Channing) is shamed for being sexually active.

In another scene, Putzie (David Del Rio) is seen hiding while looking up the skirts of female students, while same-sex couples are banned on the dancefloor during the school dance.

When Grease aired on TV last Christmas, one person tweeted: "Grease is problematic because the message is that women should change their entire personality and identity in order to be with the man they love".

Olivia Newton-John was previously asked about the backlash, and she told the Life of Greatness podcast: "I think it's kind of silly. I mean, this movie was made in the 1970s about the 1950s.

"It was a stage play, it's a musical, it's fun. It's a fun movie musical, not to be taken so seriously.

"We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are. I didn't see it like that at all, I think it's a fun movie that entertains people."