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Cool Rider: Maxwell Caulfield, Kitty Scott Claus and more tease ‘spectacle’

Exclusive: The star of Grease 2, Maxwell Caulfield, shares what it was like meeting Michelle Pfeiffer on set

By Alastair James

Cool Rider
Cool Rider (Image: Provided)

The stars of Cool Rider, including Grease 2‘s Maxwell Caulfield and Drag Race UK‘s Kitty Scott Claus have shared what fans can expect from the show.

Cool Rider is the unofficial parody and tribute to “the greasiest sequel ever made” to one of the biggest movie musicals of all time (can you guess which one?!) The show first played at the Lyric Theatre in 2014 before enjoying a smash hit run at the Duchess Theatre later that year. With a cast recording following in 2015, the show was immortalised.

A synopsis for Cool Rider reads: “The cult film told the heady and daring love story of two unlikely lovers and their road to romance from bowling alley to burger joint, sing-along-a-sex education class to talent show, and long (beautifully lit) romantic motorcycle rides to a slightly incongruous luau ending. Much like its musical prequel, the story follows the ancient High School motto: if you want the guy/girl, change your personality beyond recognition and wear overly tight leather in the finale.”

Now some of the original cast are reuniting and joined by some new faces, as well as one of the stars of Grease 2, is putting on a one-night-only concert version. Featuring songs such as ‘Back to School’ and ‘Cool Rider’ the 10th anniversary concert taking place on Sunday 14 April is set to be a stunning spectacle for new and old fans alike.

Attitude got a chance to speak to the cast during rehearsals and asked them to share their first memories of the film Cool Rider is based on, as well as what fans can expect.

Aaron Sidwell – Michael Carrington

Aaron Sidwell (Image: Provided)

“I had met one of our producers a couple of years before we did the initial one night at the Lyric Theatre in 2014. They asked me about it. At that point, it was called Grease 2: Concert. So I watched the film and at that point, they asked me to play the character of Louis, not Michael. Then somewhere along the line, the person who was meant to be playing Michael didn’t do it. So that was my introduction. I didn’t even know someone had tried to do a sequel of Grease.

“The audience is one of my favourite things about the show. As great as it is for us, it’s being in a room of people who have this one thing in common of being die-hard fans of this thing that they’ve always been told was rubbish. Just being able to celebrate what they love about it and be themselves and express themselves, that’s what I love the most. The energy that comes back. It will stay with me for the rest of my life, the first time I stepped out onstage at the Lyric Theatre and heard the noise. It makes you feel invincible. Cool Rider has got Maxwell Caulfield in. Nobody should need any more than that. But if you’re expecting something, don’t, because in no way is this going to be what you think it is. It is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.”

Ashleigh Gray – Stephanie Zinone

Ashleigh Gray (Image: Provided)

“It’s amazing coming back to school 10 years older, maybe wiser, maybe not. It’s really brilliant. We’ve spent the last couple of days revisiting the score and reliving those musical moments. It’s one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done. It’s that group dynamic of the group of girls and the group of guys and that camaraderie. I remember it being really fun. I just loved it. My favorite thing about the show is the pace. We’re covering all the bases, we’re getting everything over that needs to be told, but it’s so snappy and so smooth. It’s been done really, really well. The script has been adapted brilliantly, but it’s still got your favorite numbers in there. It’s going to be quite a spectacle. And having the audience on board, the audience loves this show as much as we love doing it.”

Kitty Scott Claus – ‘The French One’

Kitty Scott Claus (Image: Provided)

“I remember being a child and going to the video shop and we rented Grease one weekend and Grease 2 the following weekend. It’s so iconic and it’s got such a cult following the more time has passed, the more it’s found its audience. I love it. My favorite thing is the music. The songs are iconic. You can’t beat a Grease-style song. You find they’re stuck in your head for days after like ‘Cool Rider’. I’m not even singing that one, but I’ll be singing it in the wings. They can just turn my mic off. Can you imagine? 

“I think Cool Rider stands up by itself. If you’ve seen Grease, I mean, if you’ve not seen Grease, can you call yourself a homosexual? It’s one of those ones where it stands up by itself. You can go and watch Cool Rider and still have a fabulous night. It does not matter. The cult following speaks for itself. If you’re coming you are going to get a lot of nostalgic music, a lot of pink – you’ve gotta think pink.”

Debbie Kurup

“I came across Grease 2 when I was a kid. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but maybe about 10-11. It would have been on the telly and I taped it on VHS and played it to death. I was obsessed, I really was. I love the music, there’s something a little bit more dangerous about those songs. The lyrics were naughty and silly, and I think as a young girl going into my teen years, it was cool to be singing along with those kinds of songs. Probably a little bit inappropriate…

“I thought Michelle Pfeiffer was so incredible. That kind of performance she brought to the film was electric, she brought something really magnetic to that role. And she was just so cool. Everyone wanted to be a pink lady because of Michelle Pfeiffer. Cool Rider is a concert but it’s got elements of interaction and you’re going to get more than you bargained for. Put it that way!”

Debbie Kurup and Maxwell Caulfield (Image: Provided)

Maxwell Caulfield

“I’ve just come down from the rehearsal hall with our outstanding musical director and I got a sense of how much fun this is going to be. I’m jazzed. Doing Grease 2 was a fantasy. My history with Grease goes back to the late 70s in New York when they used to have weekly tryouts on Broadway. Basically, anybody who fancied their chances could get up there. It had become an institution and was springboarding a lot of people. I did try out and I’m sure the door hit me on the way out.

“It’s a real full circle moment to be back here doing this show playing Tab Hunter’s role. Working with Michelle Pfieffier was love at first sight. She was obviously drop-dead gorgeous. We had some great chemistry when it was called for [but] away from the screen we didn’t socialise. We didn’t have the same rapport on and off camera that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John did.

“In terms of the reaction to Grease 2, the original Grease film was panned, but it was bulletproof because of Travolta. But over time the audience has found the show. They did it pretty much right away via VHS and TV. And it’s now practically parallel, I believe, with the original Grease in popularity. So it does feel good to know that. Cool Rider sounds like it’s going to be a blast. It’s got a built-in audience who already grew up watching the movie and then fell in love with this interpretation of it. It could turn into the Rocky Horror Show. You never know.”

Cool Rider is playing at The London Palladium on Sunday 14 April at 7pm