Grease the Musical, a high-school romance which came to define a whole generation, became the longest-running Broadway musical in history, until A Chorus Line beat its record. Songs such as "Grease" (originally sung by Frankie Valli), the chart-buster classic "You're the one I want" and the mockingly humorous "Look at me-I'm Sandra Dee!" have still not met their match.
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Grease, which was originally put-together on a shoe-string budget in Chicago (1971) was made into a full-scale musical, played off-Broadway, and was then promptly moved to Broadway after receiving rave reviews. It remains Broadway's twelfth-running show in history. Grease the musical went on to become a hit show in London's West End. It spawned a film classic, and eventually, a series of popular revivals (including the1994 Broadway revival) and various sequels.
The story of Grease captures the conflicts that take place along the seams of a rapidly changing world-the relative decorum of the adolescent culture of the'50s giving way to the modern mannerisms of the'60s. Danny and Sandy, two high school students find themselves in the midst of this flux and are submerged in juvenile politics and ego collisions. Grease the musical is set against a period backdrop but its appeal is ultimately independent of any particular era; the play is about the social travails faced by young people and the questions of image and identity that emerge as a consequence. Grease comes across as a package that includes all this as part of the excitement of being young.
The 1978 film adaptation of Grease became a claim to fame for Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, and boosted John Travolta's celebrity to superstardom. The recipient of five Golden Globe Award nominations, the film became the highest grossing (US) Movie of 1978. The soundtrack of Grease climbed the top charts in various countries with "You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" both ending up as number one hits in the all-time UK best-selling singles (official list '02). The song "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music - Original Song.
Grease the Musical won the 1972 Theatre World Award for Acting, and carried off the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography as well as for Most Promising Costume Design. Grease was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. The 1994 revival also earned Grease the Musical a few Tony and Drama Desk nominations and a winning position for Brook Shields in the Theatre World Award. In 2007, the musical was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
The Broadway production premiered on June 7, 1972 at the Broadhurst Theater, directed by Tom Moore. Exactly a year later, Grease had its opening performance in London's West End with the lead role played by the yet-to-be-famous Richard Gere. Consequent productions also included Tracey Ullman. The 1994 Broadway revival included actors such as Brook Shields and Rosie O'Donnell.
The summer of 2007 saw a second revival of Grease the musical, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshal, with Max Crumm and Laura Osnes in the lead roles of Danny and Sandy. The original score includes four songs written for the film adaptation: "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "Sandy," "You're the One That I Want," and "Grease." Grease the Musical is currently on a US National tour which began in December, 2008 in Providence, RI and is expected to continue through June 28, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.
The Asian tour opened in Macau recently and has booked performance dates for places as diverse as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Pusan, Taegu, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Dubai, and numerous cities in India; the controversial cockfight scene during the "Rydell Fight Song" has made a come-back in this new production. The tremendous popularity of Newton-John and Travolta's Grease brought about several changes to Grease the Musical; most notably, the replacement of song numbers in subsequent theater revivals and the renaming of the Burger Palace Boys to their name in the movie, the T-Birds. Despite these makeovers, the role of Sandy Dumbrowski remains the same in the original Broadway production.
Grease has made it through decades of cinema, theatre runs and revivals because of the widespread appeal of its characters, plot, choreography and music. Be sure to catch this exciting show which has been entertaining audiences for generations and has become an icon of the whole rock'n roll era and its cultural sensibilities!
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