Although it's been over 30 years since she gave told us we better "shape up," in the film version of the Broadway hit Grease, Olivia Newton-John is still the one that fans want.
The four-time Grammy Award winner has just launched a four-month North American tour, which includes stops in San Diego (September 10), San Francisco (September 13), Minneapolis (September 24), San Antonio (November 4), Huntington, New York (November 15), Atlantic City (November 17), Pittsburgh (December 8). She will also be at Orlando's Epcot Center for its holiday Candlelight Processional (December 14-16).
The Australian superstar recently sat down with TheaterMania to discuss a variety of topics, including the joy of touring, why she hasn't done Broadway, her memories of Xanadu co-star Gene Kelly, and where she thinks Sandy Dombrowski from Grease would be today.
THEATERMANIA: Do you still enjoy touring or is it more of a vehicle to support your philanthropic projects?
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: I do enjoy it. I have a lot of fun with my band. I love the fact that we're going on the bus this time, because it's really enjoyable to get to see the country a little bit. And my husband is going to be with me and that will be great.
TM: You've had great success in film and television. So why have you never done theater?
ON: I have been asked to do some Broadway things, but they always want at least a three-month commitment and eight shows a week. That's a lot of work. Also, nothing has grabbed me yet. I never say never -- but it would have to be something really fun, interesting, and original for me to say yes. Still, it's a possibility!
TM: What did you think of the musical Xanadu?
ON: I saw the opening night in New York and I thought it was hysterical. I laughed probably louder than anyone. Then I went to Australia for the production out there. I think the music is really fun. I mean, the [movie] script was never very good, but I think that's what makes the play funny.
TM: Was making the movie worth it just for the experience of working with Gene Kelly?
ON: Oh, yes. He was a lovely man. And to dance with him! That was something I never dreamt of in my lifetime. That was my Dancing with the Stars experience. I did it first! TM You've become a symbol of healthy living since your recovery from cancer in 1992. You recently wrote a cookbook, Livwise: Easy Recipes for A Healthy, Happy Life, and you've opened the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Australia. What's the best advice you have for women dealing with health challenges?
ON: I always suggest that when you're going through cancer to find something in your day that makes you feel centered and that makes you feel good. Whether it's taking a walk or music or a yoga class or a spiritual kind of journey or meditation, find something that's just yours. I've spoken to many, many women who are going through cancer -- or have gone through it -- and very often they put everyone else first. This is the very time in our lives that you need to focus on yourself and put your needs first and ask people for help. Find somebody else to do the talking about the treatment so you're not constantly talking about your illness and your treatment, so that you can focus on your recovery. The time you'd be on the phone talking to people, give that to your husband, your sister, your best friend or whoever, so you can focus on healing yourself and doing something positive for yourself.
TM: You recently made Stephan Elliott's film A Few Best Men, which is going to be released in the U.S. later this year. You don't make that many films these days. What appealed to you about it?
ON: Making the film was a few weeks out of my life in Australia with a director who I loved and wanted to work with. He had talked to me about a movie about five years before that and it didn't happen, but he said "One day we'll find the right vehicle." Then he finally called me and said, "I think I've found the right vehicle. Read the script and see if you like the part of Barbara." I laughed all the way in the plane while reading it and thought, "Yeah, I'd like to do this." I do things for fun now.
TM: Grease was set in 1959, so Danny and Sandy would be in their 70s right now. What do you think happened to them?
ON: Wow. I hadn't thought much about it, but I think they'd still be alive. And I think they have to be together, don't you? I mean that's the fairy tale. It would be sad if they weren't together.
For more information on Olivia's tour, visit www.olivianewton-john.com.
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