When Bridie Carroll steps onto the Fox stage to perform in the musical Grease, it will be a special homecoming. Though she lived in many places growing up (including Hong Kong), and has appeared in many musicals (including Hairspray), Carroll spent much of her youth right here in Atlanta.
“My mom mentioned the other day that it was seeing Debbie Boone in a show at the Fox when I was only five or six years old that really put the fire in me to have a career in theater,” Carroll says. “She reminded me that when we left the theater, I made [them] wait by the stage door to get Debbie Boone’s autograph and declared that this was what I wanted to do. I guess that’s when the bug really bit me.”
Carroll now lives in Manhattan, but has fond memories of Atlanta and is thrilled to be coming back, especially to perform at the Fox. “I lived in Roswell when I was a teenager and performed at Village Playhouse and Georgia Ensemble Theatre, and also at ART Station in Stone Mountain,” Carroll says. “How exciting to be able to … come full circle to where my passion for theater began. I still have a lot of family and friends in and around Atlanta, so it will be really special to see them again and have them see me perform on the Fox stage.”
This version of Grease also seems to have come full circle. “In this production, the show combines music from the film with the early, original Broadway show for the very first time,” Carroll says. The original 1972 musical was Broadway’s longest running hit at the time, closing after 3,338 performances. The hugely successful 1978 film version, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John featured songs that hit No.1 on the Billboard Top 100. A 1994 revival starred pop culture icons Rosie O’Donnell and Brooke Shields, but didn’t integrate material from the film version. This tour, which is based on the 2007 Broadway revival not only blends the two versions of show, it features “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks.
“People are really into this show, especially when Taylor performs,” Carroll says. “Women show up in Poodle skirts like those worn in the ’50s [with] the words ‘Soul Patrol’ stitched on. (It was a nickname Taylor picked up during his ‘American Idol’ days because of his soulful voice.) They wave homemade signs and just go crazy when he steps on stage. It’s almost surreal, like one of those reality television moments.”
Carroll plays the role of “Jan,” one of the Pink Ladies’ female gang members. “It’s great being a Pink Lady,” she says. “Growing up, I was never one of those girls who belonged to a group or a clique, so it’s fun to get to wear the big [pink] jacket and be one of the girls everyone wants to be.”
Her favorite musical numbers include her duet “Mooning” with her onstage boyfriend, “Rump” (the character known as “Putzie” in the film version), and the show’s opening number, “Grease is the Word.” “I’ve always loved that song, and it’s always great to see how it gets the audience going from the start of the show,” she says.
Speaking of audiences, Carroll says they have been wonderful throughout the tour, inspiring the cast with their enthusiastic responses across the country. “We love it when the audience really gets into the show with their cheering. It makes it even more fun to do what we do on stage — the enthusiasm is infectious.”
When asked about her plans while in Atlanta, she says, “I haven’t been there in quite some time, since just before the Olympics, so it will be very interesting to see how different it is compared to how I remember it.
“I’d really love to go back to Roswell and see places I remember there — like the theaters where I performed — and see what old memories are rekindled.”
Grease will play The Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta from August 7-16.
Daniel Burnley is an Atlanta film and stage actor, writer and advertising/marketing consultant. Contact him at email@example.com.