“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” music producer and songwriter Justin Tranter says their prolific career actually started with a passion for musicals.
“Musicals are why I started making music as a kid. Even though I was in a rock band and now I make pop music, musicals are why I started making music in the first place,” the Grammy-nominated songwriter told Variety at the Paramount+ series’ premiere Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Tranter has worked with Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, the Chicks, Leon Bridges, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, just to name a few.
After “fighting hard” to join “Rise of the Pink Ladies” and providing demos for showrunner Annabel Oakes, the two then teamed up with choreographer Jamal Sims for the series. Along with some co-writers, Tranter wrote and produced 30 original songs for the 10-episode season.
As a longtime “Grease” and musical theater fan, Tranter turned to the original 1978 film for inspiration and ’50s nostalgia as the soundtrack’s “north star.”
“For the most part, ‘Grease’ is a late-’70s version of ‘50s nostalgia,” they said. “This is not a perfect period piece. The original wasn’t, ours shouldn’t be either.”
The cast is much more diverse than the original movie. Oakes explained that she “wanted to bring authenticity to what a Southern California high school would look like in 1954.”
“I got old yearbooks from the school where ‘Grease’ was shot,” she said. “I found a yearbook from 1954. It was a very diverse school. It was integrated. There were a lot of Japanese American kids, a lot of Latinx kids, there were Black kids and there were white kids. I wanted to tell the story that we haven’t seen about the 1950s.”
Oakes also serves as executive producer alongside Erik Feig, Marty Bowen, Adam Fishbach, Robert Sudduth, Samie Kim Falvey and director Alethea Jones.
The series stars Marisa Davila, Cheyenne Isabel Wells, Tricia Fukuhara, Ari Notartomaso, Jason Schmidt, Charlotte Kavanagh, Madison Thompson, Victor Lau, Josette Halpert, Kallie Hu and Jackie Hoffman.
“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” premieres April 6 on Paramount+.