Grease (musical)

From Academic Kids

Grease is a popular musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. A film version was made in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

The musical is based around some of the subcultures of 1950s high school America, including the "tough guy" working-class greasers from which the musical takes its name. In the film, Travolta played Danny Zuko, who is trying to win the affections of Australian exchange student Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) who was originally going back to Australia, but they had a last minute change.

The movie version sugar-coated the class aspects of the original, and subsequent stage productions have played down that aspect of the story even further and emphasised the nostalgia aspects. A sequel, Grease 2 (1982) moved the timeline forward to the early 1960s, and reversed the gender plotline (a male newcomer from England (Maxwell Caulfield) trying to woo the leader of the Pink Ladies (a pre-stardom Michelle Pfeiffer)), using motorcycles instead of cars.

In 2003, Grease was voted Best Musical of All-Time in a Channel 4 poll.

A more dramatic, harder-edged portrayal of some of the same subcultures (though slightly later) can be found in S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders.

Stage productions

The musical Grease opened off-Broadway at the Eden Theatre on February 14, 1972, starring Barry Bostwick as Danny Zuko, and Carole Demas as Sandy Dumbrowski. Also in the cast was Adrienne Barbeau as Rizzo. Instantly popular with the public, the critics remained unimpressed, and the Tony Awards committee ruled that Grease was ineligible for nomination because the theatre was several blocks away from Broadway itself. The producers threatened to sue the committee, which soon backed down and it was nominated for 9 Tonys, including Best Musical. It ran for 3388 performances in four different theatres, most notably the Royale Theatre on Broadway where it remained from November 1972 until January 1980, only three months before it closed for good. Its eight year run was a musicals record until overtaken by A Chorus Line.

When it opened in London, the role of Danny was taken by an unknown actor named Richard Gere as Danny, with Stacey Gregg as Sandy. They were later replaced by Paul Nicholas and Elaine Paige.

Its revival began in London in 1993, when a new version opened starring Craig McLachlan and Debbie Gibson in the main roles. The UK production is now a perennial favourite with audiences of all ages and has gone on many nationwide tours. The role of Danny was also played during this time by Shane Richie, Ian Kelsey and Luke Goss.

The revival production in New York began in 1994 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and ran for four years, starring Ricky Paull Goldin as Danny, Susan Wood as Sandy, Rosie O'Donnell as Rizzo, and a pre Will and Grace Megan Mullally as Marty (one of the "Pink Ladies") . During this time it picked up three Tony Award nominations, again all unsuccessful. In 1995 Brooke Shields won the Theatre World Special Award for her role as Rizzo, after following such stars as Jody Watley, Lucy Lawless, Linda Blair, Debby Boone, Sheena Easton, Joely Fisher, Debbie Gibson, Jasmine Guy, and Mackenzie Phillips in the role.


The show is set in the 1950s, in and around Rydell High School as the students return after the summer vacation.

The boys are members of the "T Birds" (Danny, Kenickie, Roger, Sonny Latieri, Doody) and the girls form the "Pink Ladies" gang (Betty Rizzo, Jan, Marty, Frenchy).

One of the gang, Danny, returns telling of a girl that he met over the summer, only to find that the girl in question, Sandy, has been transferred to Rydell High from the more innocent surroundings of Immaculata High.

Danny, not wanting to look like a wuss in front of his friends, and plays their relationship off as a fling when she approaches him one day at school. Sandy, heartbroken, tries to get him back.


The show's many popular tunes include.

  • "Summer Nights"
  • "Greased Lightning"
  • "Look at me I'm Sandra Dee"
  • "It's Raining on Prom Night"
  • "Born To Hand Jive"
  • "Beauty School Dropout"
  • "We Go Together"

Several songs including "You're The One That I Want", "Grease is the Word" and "Hopelessly Devoted To You" were written for the film version and have not been used (as of recently) in the stage fr:Grease nl:Grease


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