Although she sang with John Travolta in Grease, danced with Gene Kelly in Xanadu and recently featured her hit Let’s Get Physical on Glee, Olivia Newton-John hasn’t appeared in a full-on musical on the big screen for 30 years. That will change this weekend when she will be seen playing an overprotective hockey mom in Score: A Hockey Musical.
Director Michael McGowan wanted Newton-John, but didn’t think he’d be able to get the Australian superstar, who now makes her home in Florida, to come north to shoot the film.
“She’s funny and she doesn’t take herself seriously,” he said, “but for her to say, ‘This is the film, a hockey musical shot in Toronto, in February, seemed virtually impossible.”
When asked why chose to do this film, Newton-John laughed and said, “Because it was fun. Marc Jordan (who plays her husband in the film) is my friend and he is married to Amy Sky, one of my best friends who also produces my music, so why not?”
Shooting in Toronto in frigid February temperatures, she says, was “an experience,” but the working with the cast and crew made it worthwhile. “My memory of the movie was having fun,” she adds.
Working with her friend Jordan, who is best known as a solo singer-songwriter (he wrote the hit Rhythm of My Heart for Rod Stewart), caused to her to occasionally get the giggles so badly she could barely contain herself.
“I was really embarrassed in the end because you can break up a couple of times but you have to know when to stop, but Marc was just so hysterical.”
Ditto her director. “He is marvelous,” Newton-John says. “He has such a quirky sense of humour which fits in with mine really well. On the set he was very relaxed; he’s worked with everyone before so it was a real family atmosphere. There was no stress, there was no, ‘Oh he’s yelling at you.’”
She saves her highest praise, however, for her young co-stars, Noah Reid and Allie MacDonald who play her son and his best friend. When asked if she passed along any tips to the neophytes she said, “They are both really gifted. I probably should have asked them for hints rather than the other way around.”
“It’s a lot of good fun, but the peace message is good I think. I’m not one for violence and was brought up in the same kind of family as (the character of home-schooled-pacifist-hockey-prodigy-Farley Gordon). Maybe not quite as stringent but my father was a professor and parents were academic and peace was a big thing for my mother. It wasn’t important to win, it was important to play fair, so (Score: A Hockey Musical) kind of rung true for me.”