Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s knows the music of Olivia Newton-John. She was a superstar who won four Grammy awards and charted 15 top-ten singles, including five number-one singles, and 14 of her albums have been certified Gold.
Among her many hits: “I Honestly Love You.” “Physical,” “If Not for You,” “Let Me Be There,” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “Magic.”
In 1978, Newton-John starred in the musical film “Grease,” which was the highest-grossing musical film at the time and whose soundtrack remains one of the world’s best-selling albums. It features the major hit duet with costar John Travolta: “You’re the One That I Want.”
With global sales of more than 100 million records, Newton-John established herself as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, as well as one of the highest-selling female Australian artists.
Newton-John, who battled breast cancer three times, was an advocate and sponsor for breast cancer research. In 2012, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre opened in her hometown of Melbourne. She also was an activist for environmental and animal rights causes.
Olivia Newton-John lost her battle with breast cancer in 2022 at age 73, but her memory lives on in her music and in her causes.
Longtime devotees and new fans can celebrate Olivia Newton-John this week at Segerstrom Center with a special tribute concert called “Hopelessly Devoted: The Music of Olivia Newton-John” featuring Broadway stars Jessica Hendy, Kelli Rabke, David Burnham, Blaine Krauss and Scott Coulter, with pianist John Boswell, January 11-13 in the Samueli Theater.
Memories of Olivia Newton-John
“Hopelessly Devoted: The Music of Olivia Newton-John” is presented with generous support from Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, a longtime Olivia Newton-John fan, and friend.
“Olivia was a favorite of mine but I never thought of meeting her. Through friends I got to go to concerts and meet her backstage,” recalled Sandy. “But the big moment came when some dear friends set up my birthday dinner with Olivia. There were eight or nine of us in a little restaurant in Malibu.”
Sandy said it was supposed to be a surprise party, but it was the week of her mother’s funeral, so her husband thought he’d better tell her what was happening.
“We went to the restaurant, and I had the most fun you can imagine. Olivia was eating off my plate, they got me a present, she was so down to earth. We closed the restaurant, so Olivia asked if we wanted to go back to her house. I said okay.”
Sandy had a headache, so Olivia brought her aspirin, then offered to give Sandy a massage, which she did.
“We stayed in touch all those years, but I never emailed her, it was always through my connections,” said Sandy. “But during covid, I knew she was not doing well, so I reached out and said I was thinking about her, and she emailed me right back. She was lovely, sweet, very committed. She did not follow the social consciousness of the week. She was a lovely person. I loved her music. I got myself a record player for Christmas, and her Greatest Hits album.”
Sandy is on the Segerstrom Center board and learned that The Center was going to present a tribute to Olivia on their Cabaret series, so Sandy said she’d love to be a sponsor of the concert.
“It’s going to be a fun filled night hopelessly devoted to Olivia,” stated Sandy. “I’m going to be with my dearest friends and enjoy the evening.”
Jessica Hendy is a vocal powerhouse who just closed the recent Broadway revival of “Cats.” She is the only person with the distinction of having been in the original Broadway production of “Cats,” the National tour, and the Broadway revival. She recently made her Radio City Music Hall debut in The New York Spring Spectacular, alongside the world famous Rockettes.
David Burnham was last seen on Broadway in the mega-hit musical “Wicked,” playing Fiyero, a role that he originated in the early workshops of the show. OC audiences might also fondly remember David’s starring turn in the “Light in the Piazza” at South Coast Repertory – a show he appeared in on Broadway as well.
Kelli Rabke has enjoyed a prolific career on the Great White Way, with a resume that can boast of being one of the only Broadway stars to originate a role in both a Stephen Schwartz and an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Her success on the stage and on daytime TV in “The Young and The Restless” has made her an incredibly popular concert artist and a staple in the NYC cabaret world.
Blaine Krauss has been “blowing us all away” with his talents on the national tour of “Hamilton.” Before that, he got his big break playing Simba in “The Lion King” national tour, and was a member of the original Broadway casts of “The Cher Show” and “Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812.”
Center cabaret lovers will fondly remember Scott Coulter’s booming voice, wit and charisma from last season’s “The Broadway Hollywood Holiday Soundtrack.” Scott has won 5 MAC Awards, given by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs.
For tickets to “Hopelessly Devoted: The Music of Olivia Newton-John,” visit www.SCFTa.org.