Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Original Broadway Production
Opened - 7th June 1972 at The Broadhurst Theater (3,388 performances)
Director - Tom
Choreographer - Patricia Birch
Producer - Kenneth Waismann and Maxine Fox
Original Cast Members - Carole Demas (Sandy), Barry Bostwick (Danny), Adrienne Barbeau (Rizzo) and Walter Robbie (Roger)
Original London Production
Opened - 26th June 1973 at the New London Theatre (236 performances)
Director - Tom
Choreographer - Patricia Birch
Producer - Triumph Theatre Productions
Original Cast Members - Stacey Gregg (Sandy), Richard Gere (Danny), Jacqui-Ann Carr (Rizzo) and Stephen Bent (Roger)
'GREASE' LYRICS (Spanish)
1993 London Cast Recording
Film Soundtrack - CD
Libretto - Book
Vocal Selections - Book
Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Grease had its world theatrical premiére on Broadway in 1972, and has triumphed throughout the world, both in acclaimed theatres and in countless school productions. In 1979 Grease took over the record as the longest-running show in the history of Broadway, and the hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John proved to be the highest grossing movie musical ever.
The co-creators, Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, were friends for seven years before they collaborated on Grease, and it was over beer at a party when the idea first surfaced. Reacting against the "traditional, 'legit' show tune type melodies of the Great White Way" (Jim Jacobs), Jacobs and Casey amused themselves imagining this new kind of musical on Broadway, with music from the late Fifties and characters from the golden days of rock'n'roll.
Perhaps through fate (Casey lost his job soon after and, having time on his hands, began to write a rough sketch), Casey and Jacobs created a story with music and lyrics which challenged the existing concept of musicals whilst establishing itself as a new kind of 'classic'. It was in an experimental theatre in Chicago on February 5th 1971 that they finally tried their idea out on the public, with a title evoking the style of the late 1950s - slicked back hair and fatty fast food - Grease.
Despite a slightly shaky beginning - an all-amateur cast in a former tram shed, with newspapers for seats - the audiences kept returning with friends and relatives, until Grease proved more profitable than any previous show the theatre had produced. With discouragement from friends, and encouragement from Broadway producer Ken Waissman and partner Maxine Fox, Casey and Jacobs recognised that to maximise the show's potential they would have to give up their day jobs, and move to New York.
One year after the first production, Grease opened at the Eden Theatre, just off Broadway, but not with the success hoped for. Although the public loved it, the critics - in particular the New York Times - gave the show lukewarm reviews, and the Tony Awards committee ruled that Grease was ineligible for nomination because the Eden does not qualify as a Broadway theatre, being several blocks away from Broadway proper. However, the producers disagreed and threatened to sue the committee, which promptly backed down; Grease consequently received seven Tony nominations, moved to Broadway proper and never looked back. Although in the smash hit film of 1978 John Travolta was to play Danny Zuko, in the 1971 tour across the US and Canada the 17 year old Travolta played Doody, the nerdy kid who idolises Danny. When the show opened in London it was the then unknown Richard Gere that played the cool Danny, with Stacey Gregg as Sandy, followed by Paul Nicholas and Elaine Paige in the lead roles.
Everywhere it opened, Grease struck a universal chord with its irresistible mix of adolescent angst, vibrant physicality and 1950s pop culture. Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey created a perfect period piece - a pastiche of the 1950s - which is "fast, furious and thrilling, an injection of raw energy ... and fun, fun, fun" (Hilary Bonner - Daily Mirror).
REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's musical, originally staged by a non-professional company in a Chicago fringe theatre, has proved so durable since its revival at the Dominion in the mid-nineties that when it is not on tour it is in the West End.
This says a lot for the basic concept – a pastiche of American youth culture towards the end of the fifties – and for the strength of the songs, themselves pastiche. And it is of some social significance because it celebrates, if that is the right word, the arrival of the teenager as a market force.
But significance is the last thing that attracts contemporary audiences. It is the ultimate example of the feel-good show, still bursting with energy and good spirits, though some might find something slightly disturbing in the fact that innocent, virginal Sandy – sweetly played by Caroline Sheen – should so easily succumb to peer pressure.
Both Sheen and Greg Kohout, who plays Danny, are rather too old to be convincing teenagers but they blend attractively, with Kohout quietly impressive as the preening youth whose hairstyle is more important than his grades and who is not quite as confident as he appears.
They are backed by a very smart and energetic ensemble, including Dawn Spence as the tough girl who turns out to be as vulnerable as the rest, Matthew Cutts as Kenickie, Julie Bourne's vibrant Cha Cha, Tanya Caridia as Frenchy, Louise Dearman as the loveable Jan, Gary Jordan's engagingly geeky Eugene and Paul Burnham as a camp Vince Fontaine.
In the role of Teen Angel, former Steps member Lee Latchford Evans comes into the category of special guest star, for he does nothing except one number, though he performs with great aplomb with a nice voice, nice smile and nice suit – so who could ask for more?
David Gilmore's direction and Arlene Phillips' choreography are outstanding, as is the brilliantly evocative design by Terry Parsons. And surely part of Grease's success must be the presence of a live band, led by Stephen Owens with an energy to rival that of the cast.
The Stage - 10th October 2002