The Washington Post

Olivia Newton-John comes to Strathmore

"This Christmas" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. (Universal Music Enterprises/UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES)

After a long week of Hurricane Sandy, which punched out power lines, tore through trees and flooded the East Coast so mightily it looked like it was time to start summoning two of every animal, you’re probably ready to think about a Sandy that’s a little, well, sunnier.

For instance: Sandy from “Grease.”

Olivia Newton-John sounds exactly as you remember her from the movies. Though she’s now a 64-year-old married mother, her voice still has that Australian, girlish lilt to it, like she’s delighted just to be speaking. If you ever need to gently break bad news to someone, Newton-John would be the perfect messenger.

The Grammy winner, breast cancer survivor and iconic fake teenager (she was in her late 20s when she played wide-eyed high school senior Sandy Olsen ) is bringing her national tour to Strathmore for one night in November.

“It’s really a journey through my music,” Newton-John said of the concert. “I go through the music from way back, when I started with country. I go through ‘Grease’ and ‘Xanadu’ and other successful records I’ve had.”

Don’t expect wacky “Xanadu”-style sets and dancing. “It’s my music and me,” she said. “There’s no special effects. There’s no gimmicks.”

Technically speaking, this is not entirely in keeping with her track record, or at least, with her videos, some of which relied a little heavily on gimmicks — most notably the video for “Physical,” which attempted to cool the racy innuendo from the song by using a gym as the setting.

Newton-John claimed the fitness theme was her idea, the result of her panic about the song being too sexual. “I tried to get them to pull that one,” she said, but “it was too late. It had gone to radio. It was already shooting up the charts.”

She pitched the idea of making a video about exercise in the hopes that new context would change people’s perception of the song. “And that only made it bigger,” she said.

When she revisited the song and video for her “Glee” cameo in 2010, “they copied the set exactly,” she said. “It was really a giggle.”

Next up in the nostalgia department for Newton-John is her Christmas album with “Grease” co-star John Travolta. The album, “This Christmas,” is all holiday standards save for one song, “I Think You Might Like It,” which is being billed as a sequel to “You’re the One That I Want,” as both songs were written by John Farrar.

As for her concert, she promises there won’t be any new orchestrations of her hits: no remixing “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” no dubstep take on “I Honestly Love You.” (Although come to think of it, that’s not the worst idea in the world.) The classics she sings will be the classics you know.

“I always remember, when I was a young girl going to see one of my favorite artists, and she changed the songs and I was really disappointed,” Newton-John said. “So I always remember that from a fan’s point of view, people want to hear it the way they heard it.”

Olivia Newton-John

at the Music Center at Strathmore, Nov. 16. 301-581-5100.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read
Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.