HomeEntertainmentParamount+ Sets Cast for ‘Grease’ Prequel Series, ‘Rise of the Pink Ladies’

Paramount+ Sets Cast for ‘Grease’ Prequel Series, ‘Rise of the Pink Ladies’

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)

There’s big news for anyone who’s hopelessly devoted to the musical Grease. Paramount+ is moving forward with its production of a prequel series to the beloved movie that will focus on The Rise of the Pink Ladies. The streaming service announced on Monday that the show had locked in its cast and started filming in Vancouver.

The Rise of the Pink Ladies will take place four years before the events of the classic 1978 musical. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are out as the series focuses on new characters from the Grease universe. This series will take place before rock ‘n’ roll ruled Rydell High School and before the T-Birds had cornered the market on cool. The show follows four teenagers tired of being social outcasts. So they band together to create a club and have fun “on their own terms, sparking a moral panic that will change” the high school forever, Paramount+ said in a press release.

The Rise of the Pink Ladies will star Marisa Davila as Jane, Cheyenne Isabel Wells as Olivia, Ari Notartomaso as Cynthia, Tricia Fukuhara as Nancy, Shanel Bailey as Hazel, Madison Thompson as Susan, Johnathan Nieves as Richie, Jason Schmidt as Buddy, and Maxwell Whittington-Cooper as Wally, TVLine reported. Annabel Oakes and Alethea Jones will act as showrunners.

“We are thrilled to unveil our new original series that will introduce an incredible cast of young stars in the making and electrifying musical numbers you will fall in love with,” said Nicole Clemens, President of Paramount Television Studios. “Annabel and Alethea have managed to brilliantly capture the spirit of the iconic beloved classic film which like Rise of the Pink Ladies, is both set in the past but relevant to the present.”

Before Travolta, ‘Grease’ Producers Went to The Fonz

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than John Travolta singing to Olivia Newton-John in Grease, but he wasn’t the producers’ first choice to play Danny Zuko. They asked Henry Winkler, who was starring as The Fonz on Happy Days at the time, to put on his dancing shoes and enroll at Rydell High. But Winkler passed. He felt the role was too similar to his TV character.

“I turned down the lead role in Grease,” Winkler told AARP Magazine in 2017. “I didn’t want to be typecast, but you’re typecast anyway.”

Now, with the clarity of hindsight, Winkler said he probably should have taken the role. He explained he broke his most important rule when he said no. He listened to his head and not his heart.

“And it’s not now that I’m, like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done the role.’ It’s that I turned it down intellectually instead of instinctually,” Winkler told the magazine. “Listen to your gut — it knows everything. Your head knows only some things. So, I went home and had an orange juice. Travolta went home and bought a plane.”