WHAT’S HAPPENING BROADWAY FANS?! It’s coming down to 18 DAYS till we properly all get together ringing in the holiday season New York City style after a rough year and a half being shut down. That is of course The 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since Live Theater has played a huge part of this national treasure, we have more iconic Broadway performances coming your way on our TOP 30 BROADWAY AT MACY’S COUNTDOWN. Are you ready for another toe-tapper?!!!
At # 18, we are going BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL….. 1950’s Style. It tells the classic tale of a group of High School teenagers navigating life there dealing with various issues such as peer pressure, politics, personal core values, and romance. The main center story follows the head rebel who falls in love with the cute young newbie girl. It’s the one word that everyone knows in their mind…… Grease! The show features an iconic score and book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.
From the 2008 CBS edition, American Idol favorite Ace Young as “Kneckie” along with Derek Keeling as “Danny Zuko”, and the cast of the recent Broadway revival are working a car repair shop cleaning up the most legendary of them all. The one that’s AUTOMATIC, SYSTEMATIC, HYYYYYDROMATIC….. It’s GREASED LIGHTNING!!!
GREASE originally premiered in 1971 in Chicago at the former Kingston Mines nightclub in Chicago. It’s early reactions to the show considered it as very raunchy, raw, aggressive, and vulgar. All of it also comes from the time people seeing a show with various themes mentioned throughout including teen peer pressure, pregnancy, gangs, sex, rock n’roll, and rebellion. Talks were made with early producers of considering the show more as an Off Broadway show.
After a year of changes, the show made its debut here in our New York City backyard, GREASE made its New York City debut OFF Broadway at the Eden Theatre. A few months later, it transferred ON Broadway to the Broadhurst Theatre, the Royale Theatre (today now the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre), and the Majestic Theatre where it ran for 20 previews and 3,388 performances. It went on to become an instant smash hit. At the time, it was considered as the longest running show in Broadway history until it was surpassed by A Chorus Line and many of Broadway’s other hottest tickets. Currently, it’s the 16th Longest Running Show. Under the direction of Tom Moore and choreographed by Patricia Birch, the cast was led by….
Carole Demas (later Andrea Walters, Ilena Graff, Robin Lamont, and more) as “Sandy Dumbrowski”,
Adrienne Barbeau (later Elaine Petricoff, Judy Kaye, Joy Garrett, Marcia Mitzman, and more) as “Betty Rizzo”,
Timothy Meyers (later Danny Jacobson, Jerry Zaks, and more) as “Kneckie”,
Walter Bobbie as “Roger”,
James Canning as “Doody”,
Katie Hanley as “Marty”,
Garn Stephens as “Jan”,
Marayal Small as “Frenchy”,
Toby Hinson as “Vince Fontaine” and “Teen Angel”
Following the success of Broadway, GREASE went on to rock n’ roll all around the world with several productions in London’s West End.
The show would eventually HAND JIVE its way back to the Great Bright Way TWICE.
GREASE had its first Broadway revival in 1994 playing the Eugene O’Neill Theatre for 20 previews and 1, 505 regular performances. This production was well known for including a pre-show Karaoke session where fans got to go up on stage singing their favorite songs from the show hosted by the actor who would play “Vine Fontaine”. It was also known for some notable celebrity stunt casting. Under the direction and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun, this cast was led by….
Susan Wood (later Kelli Severson, Lacey Hornkohl, Sutton Foster, and more) as “Sandy Dumbrowski”,
Jason Opsahl (later Steven Geyer) as “Kneckie”,
Hunter Foster (later Dan Woodward and David Josefberg) as “Roger”,
Sam Harris (later Brad Kane, Ray Walker, Ric Rider, and Shannon Bailey) as “Doody”,
Megan Mullaly (later Amanda Watkins, Sherie Rene Scott, and more) as “Marty”,
Heather Stokes (later Marissa Jaret Winokur) as “Jan”,
Jessica Stone (later Alisa Klein, Monica Lee Gradishek, and Jennifer Niamo) as “Frenchy”,
Brian Bradley (later Joe Piscopo, Mickey, Dolenz, and Dave Konig) as “Vince Fontaine”
Billy Porter (later Al Jarreau, Charles Gray, Darlene Love, Mary Bond Davis, Lee Truesdale and more) as “Teen Angel”,
This 1994 revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards that year including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL. However, it lost all the categories. Brooke Shields who later replaced as “Betty Rizzo” would go on to receive a Theatre World Award for her performance.
The 1994 revival continued to tour all across North America and around the world for several years.
Finally, the most recent Broadway revival of GREASE happened in 2007. This revival was the first production also to include 4 of the beloved songs from the film adaptation. Most notably, it was promoted through an NBC reality show where America had the vote to choose their standout performers to be cast in the lead roles of “Danny” and “Sandy” on Broadway. It ran at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for only 31 previews and 554 regular performances on Broadway. Under the direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall, the cast was led by….
Max Crumm who won the reality show (later runner-up Derek Keeling) as “Danny Zuko”,
Future 2 time Tony nominee Laura Osnes who won the reality show (later Ashley Spencer) as “Sandy Dumbrowski”,
Jenny Powers (later Janine DiVita) as “Betty Rizzo”,
Matthew Saldivar (later Ace Young) as “Kneckie”,
Daniel Everidge (later Todd Bunonpane and Will Blum) as “Roger”,
Ryan Patrick Binder as “Doody”,
Future Tony nominee Robyn Hurder (later Helene Yorke) as “Marty”,
Future Tony winner Lindsay Mendez as “Jan”,
Kirsten Wyatt as “Frenchy”,
Jeb Brown (later Dominic V, Fortuna and Mike McGowan) as “Vince Fontaine”
Stephen R. Buntrock (later Taylor Hicks) as “Teen Angel”
This revival was nominated for only 1 Tony Award in 2007 for BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL. However, it lost the category.
GREASE has gone on to become a worldwide sensation, It’s attention as a pop culture phenomenon really came into place when the original film was released in 1978 from Paramount Pictures. It went on to become both a critical and commercial success and still holds the record as the Highest Grossing Musical film of all time. The film’s soundtrack also went on to top the charts. Not only for its music from the stage production but also some of the newer tunes that were written for the film that went on to become many of the musical’s signature hits today consisting of the titular song, HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU, SANDY, and the showstopping YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT. Under the direction of Randal Kleisier, this film legendary starred….
John Travolta as “Danny Zuko”,
Olivia Newton-John as “Sandy” (renamed “Olsson” in place of “Dumbrowski”),
Stockard Channing as “Betty Rizzo”,
Jeff Conaway as “Kneckie”,
Kelly Ward as “Putzie” (formerly “Roger”),
Barry Pearl as “Doody”,
Jamie Donnelly as “Jan”,
Didi Conn as “Frenchy”,
Edd Byrnes as “Vince Fontaine”,
Frankie Avalon as “Teen Angel”,
The film was nominated for various Awards including 5 Golden Globe Awards including BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY and an Oscar for BEST ORIGINAL SONG (for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU). However, it lost all the categories.
With its life after the original film, a movie musical sequel was made & released in 1982. GREASE 2 (which starred Michelle Pfiffer and Max Caufield) which went on to become the greatest movie musical flop ever. Today, the sequel earned a huge cult following.
Most recently, GREASE was remade in 2016 as a Live TV Musical for FOX. It was the first time that channel stepped up to the plate to bring the tradition up of performing Live TV musicals after NBC. It was also the first time a Live TV production included a Live Audience involved vs. NBC’s previous live productions of The Sound Of Music and Peter Pan. Under the direction of Thomas Kail, it featured a full all-star cast consisting of….
Tony winner Aaron Tviet as “Danny Zuko”,
Julliane Hough as “Sandy Dumbrowski”,
Vanessa Hudgens as “Betty Rizzo”,
Carlos PenaVega as “Kenickie”,
David Delrio as “Roger”,
Jordan Fisher as “Doody”,
Kether Donohue as “Jan”,
Keke Palmer as “Marty”,
Carly Rae Jepsen as “Frenchy”,
Edd Byrnes as “Vince Fontaine”,
Boyz II Men as “The Teen Angels”,
The live production earned critical praise. It was seen by over 12.18 Million viewers. It also went on to be nominated for 10 Primetime Emmy Awards that year winning 5 including OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM.
Currently, Paramount is developing 2 prequel projects on GREASE. One of them recently got picked up by Paramount+ entitled GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES following the story of the early beginnings of “Rizzo”, Frenchy”, “Jan”, and “Marty”. The other prequel will be entitled GREASE: SUMMER LOVIN’ breaking down the classic story of “Danny” and “Sandy” when they first met & all of the events that came into place in the musical’s notable song SUMMER NIGHTS.
Today, GREASE has continued to be performed everywhere around the world in schools, community, and regional theatres. There are 2 versions of the musical currently available for licensing consisting of the main show and a school edition (for those who do NOT want to use the Adult Language). It’s one of the most popular shows ever performed around the world.
GREASE IS THE WORD indeed and always will be!!
How rocking was that performance?!!