Musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. A musical slice of 50s High School Americana. As leader of the T-Birds, the rebel Danny Zuko oozes sex appeal and can have any 'chick' he desires. High School is only an excuse to flirt with the 'bombshells', get up to mayhem and smoke cigarettes. Along comes Sandy Dumbrowski - a true beauty but a real square - and the chase is on! The Pink Ladies, are led by the irresistible Rizzo, whose hobby is to eat men for breakfast - loud, sassy, feisty and with plenty of sex appeal, this is one girl who likes living dangerously. There's lovable Frenchy, who dreams of going to beauty school. Vince Fontaine, a smooth operator who leaves his female fans in near hysteria, and Miss Lynch, the prudish Principal, trying to keep a tight reign on all these hormones and failing miserably.
Grease the Musical was originally staged in London at The New London Theatre in the 1973. The musical was then made into a block-buster movie in 1978 starring John Travolta as 'Danny' and Olivia Newton-John as 'Sandy' - this movie version was quite different to the original stage version and included a number of new songs. This 'new' revised version was then staged in London's West End for the first time in 1993 and included the 'songs from the film' - 'Grease Is The Word'; 'You're The One That I Want'; and 'Hopelessly Devoted To You'.
Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, with additional songs by Barry Gibb, John Farrar, Louis St Louis and Scott Simon.
Grease in London Trivia:
The actor who has played the role of 'Danny' the most times in the West End is Danny Bayne for some 21 months (Piccadilly Theatre from July 2007 through to May 2009, excluding holdays). Coming a extremely close second is Shane Richie for some 20 months (Dominion Theatre from July 1994 through to January 1996, and from April 1997 through to July 1997, excluding holidays, though Shane Richie headlined as 'Danny' during Craig McLachlan's holidays during 1993/4).
The actress who has played the role of 'Sandy' the most times in the West End is Shona Lindsay for some 19 months (Dominion / Cambridge Theatres from April 1996 through to October 1997)
The co-writer of Grease, Jim Jacobs explains how he came to have the idea for the show: "It was in Chicago, Illinois, circa March/April 1970. At a cast party for some long forgotten show - just for a laugh - I pulled out some of my old 45 records from the 1950s. These songs sounded extremely dated compared to the very hip, psychedelic funk of 1970 but it was a change of pace amongst the repetitious favourite dance tunes of the day. It was after singing along to several of these old, scratchy 45s by the likes of Little Richard, Dion and the Belmonts, and The Flamingos, that I first suggested to Warren Casey what a funny idea I thought it would be to see a Broadway musical that utilised this type of score - the basic acapella / faisetto / doo-wops / hic-cupping / R'n'B music of the late 50s instead of the traditional 'legit' show tune type melodies of the Great White Way. Warren raised the rather obvious question: 'Yeah, but what would the show be about?' A few beers later - with daylight rapidly approaching - I hit upon the idea that it should be about the kids I went to high school with, mainly the "greasers" and their girlfriends, back in the golden days of rock'n'roll. Harking back to a lifestyle that seemed centred on hairstyles, (oily, gooey, coiffs) the food (cheap, fatty, hamburgers and soggy fries) and cool custom cars (more gunk and sludge) or any and all things "greasy" - I suggested we call it Grease."
Together Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wrote the first version of Grease as a play with music and, on 5 February 1971, it opened at a damp, drafty, former trolley barn called The Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago featuring a non-professional cast of 18 actors who played the first of four scheduled performances to full houses of 120 seats. Due to its popularity, the show extended... and extended. Producers saw the show and suggested that it should be reworked to become more of a musical. Thus Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey reworked the script and the show opened off-Broadway and then the following year it transferred to The Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway on 7 June 1972. The show run for just under eight years, transferring to The Royale Thatre and then The Majestic Theatre before closing on 13 April 1980 after an amazing run of 3,388 performances.
David Gilmore, the director of the revised 1993 version said: "There's a huge audience of youngsters who know nothing about any theatre. That vast audience who go to discos, who go to Wembley for a rock concert, don't want to see plays. They're not interested. But they will go to see something where boys and girls come on stage wearing jeans and leather jackets, rocking and rolling. Perhaps I should say that this show is not a revival but a complete rethink and reworking. For various reasons. One is that since the original production the film has redefined what was there. The original show was written for a 150-seat community theatre in Chicago for a small cast. It went off-Broadway and then on Broadway. It survived as a small show, full of bad language; the characters were unattractive, to say the least. They'd come out and spit at the audience. Then came the film. Songs were added, which are now some of the best selling pop songs ever written, and the material was made acceptable to a wide general audience. With whom it obviously found favour. Here we are now, 20 years after, presenting it in one of the largest theatres in London, if not the largest, on a huge stage playing a hybrid version, if you like, of the text and the film and in a space for which the original material was not intended to work... We've had to bear in mind all along the danger that this enlarging might overblow the material. We're not pastiching the Fifties but in this large space it's Fifties that are more Fifties than you could ever remember. A production has to play the space it's in for everybody in that space, at the front or the back."
Original London West End Production 1973
Previewed 16 June 1973, Opened 26 June 1973, Closed 14 February 1974 at the New London Theatre
The original cast featured Richard Gere as 'Danny Zuko', Stacey Gregg as 'Sandy Dumbrowski', Peter Armitage as 'Kenickie', Jacquie-Ann Carr as 'Rizzo', Derek James as 'Doody', Stephen Bent as 'Roger', Doug Fisher as 'Sonny', Felicity Harrison as 'Frenchy', Colette Kelly as 'Jan', Hilary Labow as 'Marty', Roy Desmond as 'Vince Fontaine', Steve Alder as 'Teen Angel / Johnny Casino', Stephen Marsh as 'Eugene', Claire Faulcon Bridge as 'Patty', Ann Way as 'Miss Lynch' and Olwen Hughes as 'Cha-Cha'. Directed by Tom Moore with choreography by Patricia Birch, sets by Douglas W. Schmidt, costumes by Carrie F. Robbins and lighting by Robert Ornbo.
This production is notable for being an early stage role for the (then unknown) Hollywood actor Richard Gere, although he had already understudied the lead role of 'Danny' on Broadway. Also, during the run both Paul Nicholas and Elaine Paige joined the cast.
London Revival (Astoria Theatre) 1979
Previewed 6 June 1979, Opened 7 June 1979, Closed 22 September 1979 at the Astoria Theatre (demolished)
The original cast featured Michael Howe as 'Danny Zuko' and Jacqueline Reddin as 'Sandy Dumbrowski' with Tanith Banbury, John Christie, Zelah Clarke, Paul Felber, Joe Figg, Gretchen Franklin, Hilary Labow, Val Mitchell, Andrew Paul, Richard Piper, Su Pollard, Philip Tsaras, Kevin Quarmby, Tracey Ullman and Timothy Whitnall. Directed by Tom Moore with choreography by Robert Kipp, sets by Douglas W. Schmidt, costumes by Carrie F. Robbins and lighting by Francis Reid.
This production is notable for being early stage roles for both Tracey Ullman (as 'Frenchy') and Su Pollard (as 'Cha-Cha').
1st London West End Revival (revised) 1993
Previewed 5 July 1993, Opened 15 July 1993, Closed 19 October 1996 at the Dominion Theatre
Transferred 24 October 1996, Closed 4 September 1999 at the Cambridge Theatre
Returned 22 October 2001, Closed 3 November 2001 at the Dominion Theatre
Previewed 26 September 2002, Opened 2 October 2002, Closed 6 September 2003 at the Victoria Palace Theatre
Directed by David Gilmore with choreography by Arlene Phillips, sets by Terry Parsons, costumes by Andreane Neofitou, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Bobby Aitken.
The original July 1993 cast at the Dominion Theatre featured Craig McLachlan as 'Danny Zuko', Deborah Gibson as 'Sandy Dumbrowski', Shane Richie as 'Kenickie', Sally Ann Triplett as 'Rizzo', John Combe as 'Doody', Drew Jaymson as 'Roger', Richard Calkin as 'Sonny', Jo Bingham as 'Frenchy', Liz Ewing as 'Jan', Charlotte Avery as 'Marty', Gary Martin as 'Vince Fontaine', Andrew Kennedy as 'Teen Angel', Aidan Treays as 'Eugene', Tamzin Outhwaite as 'Patty', Myra Sands as 'Miss Lynch', Heather Robbins as 'Cha-Cha' and Glenn Carter as 'Johnny Casino' with Anna-Jane Casey, Robin Cleaver, Amanda Courtney-Davies, Derek Joshua Cullen, James Davies, Simon Harper, Daniel Hinchliffe, Kim Leeson, Lucy Moorby, Ben Richards, Sebastien Torkia and Nikki Worrall, along with Simon Coulthard, Janine Davies, Sue Eastwood and Steen Young.
The role of 'Danny' was first played by Craig McLachlan from Monday 5 July 1993 through to Saturday 23 July 1994; then by Shane Richie from Monday 25 July 1994 through to Saturday 6 January 1996; by Richard Calkin from Monday 8 January 1996 hrough to December 1996; Shane Richie returned as 'Danny' from Monday 7 April 1997 through to Saturday 12 July 1997; Richard Calkin then returned from Monday 14 July 1997 through to Saturday 2 August 1997; by Luke Goss from Monday 4 August 1997 through to Saturday 24 January 1998; by Ian Kelsey from Monday 26 January 1998 through to Saturday 26 September 1998; by Alex Bourne from Monday 28 September 1998 through to Saturday 27 February 1999; and finally, by Darren Day from Monday 1 March 1999 through to when the production closed on Saturday 4 September 1999.
The role of 'Sandy' was first played by Deborah Gibson from Monday 5 July 1993 through to Saturday 9 April 1994; then by Sonia from Monday 11 April 1994 through to Saturday 8 April 1995; by Samantha Janus (now Samantha Womack) from Monday 10 April 1995 through to Saturday 6 April 1996; by Shona Lindsay from Monday 8 April 1996 through to October 1997; by Marrissa Dunlop from November 1997 through to October 1998; and finally, by Nikki Worrall from October 1998 through to when the production closed on Saturday 4 September 1999.
The original cast for 2001 return season at the Dominion Theatre featured Craig Urbani as 'Danny Zuko', Haley Flaherty as 'Sandy Dumbrowski', Matthew Cutts as 'Kenickie', Nina French as 'Rizzo', Jason Packett as 'Doody', Peter Jamieson as 'Roger', Richard Taylor Woods as 'Sonny', Tanya Caridia as 'Frenchy', Rebecca Cameron as 'Jan', Emma Cannon as 'Marty', Paul Burnham as 'Vince / Teen Angel', Barnaby Thompson as 'Eugene', Chloe Bell as 'Patty', Lorraine Graham as 'Miss Lynch' and Rebecca Trelease as 'Cha-Cha' with Chris Adams, Vanessa Barmby, Paul Berry, Catherine Greeney, Alison Hefferon, Joanne Mcshane, David Rhys, Jake Samuels, Jean-Pierre Van Der Spuy and Sarah-Louise Warden.
The 2001 return two week season was presented as part of the UK tour. Initially it was due to play at the Hammersmith Apollo Theatre, but three weeks before it was due to start, the venue was changed to the Dominion Theatre following the early closure of the musical Notre Dame de Paris on 6 October 2001.
The original cast for the 2002 return season at the Victoria Palace Theatre featured Greg Kohout as 'Danny Zuko', Caroline Sheen as 'Sandy Dumbrowski', Matthew Cutts as 'Kenickie', Dawn Spence as 'Rizzo', Ben Forster as 'Doody', Daniel Boys as 'Roger', Richard Taylor Woods as 'Sonny', Tanya Caridia as 'Frenchy', Louise Dearman as 'Jan', Emma Cannon as 'Marty', Paul Burnham as 'Vince', Lee Latchford Evans as 'Teen Angel', Gary Jordan as 'Eugene', Lucinda Gill as 'Patty', Lorraine Graham as 'Miss Lynch', Julie Bourne as 'Cha-Cha', with Chris Adams, Craig Armstrong, Paul Berry, Matthew Clark, Janine Craig, Catherine Greeney, Becky Hanks, Alison Hefferon, Lara Pulver, Rebecca Trelease, Jean Pierre Van Der Spuy and Jamie Wilkin.
The 2002 return season was advertised as featuring 'Special Guest Star' Lee Latchford Evans from STEPS as 'Teen Angel' - he remained in the cast for the entire 11 month run. Ben Richards took over as 'Danny' from Monday 8 January 2003.
2nd London West End Revival (revised) 2007
Previewed 25 July 2007, opened 8 August 2007, closed 30 April 2011 at the Piccadilly Theatre
Re-staged revival of the 1993 production. Directed by David Gilmore with choreography by Arlene Phillips, re-staged by Stori James, sets by Terry Parsons, costumes by Andreane Neofitou, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Bobby Aitken.
This major production of Grease in London originally featured a 'Danny Zuko' and 'Sandy Dumbrowski' that was choosen by the public through the television production Grease Is The Word which was broadcast on ITV during Spring 2007 - Danny Bayne was choosen to play 'Danny and Susan McFadden was choosen to play 'Sandy'.
The original July 2007 cast featured Danny Bayne as 'Danny Zuko', Susan McFadden as 'Sandy Dumbrowski', Sean Mulligan as 'Kenicke', Jayde Westaby as 'Rizzo', Lee Martin as 'Doody', Richard Hardwick as 'Roger', Bennett Andrews as 'Sonny', Alana Phillips as 'Frenchy', Laurie Scarth as 'Jan', Charlie Cameron as 'Marty', Jason Capewell as 'Vince', Jason Capewell as 'Teen Angel', Tim Newman as 'Eugene', Siobhan Dillon as 'Patty', Marie Daly as 'Miss Lynch', Olivia Kate Ward as 'Cha-Cha' with Charlotte Bull, Danielle Crockford, Matthew Croke, Simon Hardwick, Ben Harris, Amy Jenkins, Kirsty McDonald, Helen Morris, Rachel Muldoon, Richard Peakman, Paull Riddiford and James Rees.
The role of 'Danny' was played first by Danny Bayne from Wednesday 25 July 2007 through to Saturday 9 May 2009; then by Ray Quinn from Monday 11 May 2009 through to Saturday 28 November 2009; by Noel Sullivan from Monday 30 November 2009 through to Saturday 25 September 2010; and finally, by Matthew Goodgame from Monday 27 September 2010 through to when the production closed on Saturday 30 April 2011.
The role of 'Sandy' was played first by Susan McFadden from Wednesday 25 July 2007 through to Saturday 14 June 2008; then by Nicola Brazil from Monday 16 June 2008 through to Saturday 9 May 2009; by Emma Stephens from Monday 11 May 2009 through to Saturday 23 January 2010; by Siobhan Dillon from Monday 25 January 2010 through to Saturday 24 July 2010; and finally, by Lauren Samuels from Monday 26 July 2010 through to when the production closed on Saturday 30 April 2011.
Ray Quinn joined the cast as 'Doody' from Monday 16 June 2008 and played the role up to Saturday 9 May 2009, after which he took over as 'Danny'. Jimmy Osmond joined the cast as 'Vince / Teen Angel' for six week, from Monday 19 January 2009 through to Saturday 28 February 2009.
"Almost 30 years since the film was released, Grease is still the word. Maybe it is not also the way, the truth and the light, but it is certainly a deity of a kind, at least as far as its hundreds of thousands of fans are concerned... The production has kept not only its youthful good looks, but also its exuberance and curious sense of innocence. The fully-paid up members of the Grease cult will love this time capsule of a show, with its painstaking recreation of the look and feel of the 1950s, but I fancy a great many non-believers will also come out smiling because it is all so deliriously and hilariously camp... The clever, snobby, elitist riposte to Grease is to pronounce it no more than downmarket mush for the masses. Well, maybe, but it is also technically brilliant, the songs are irresistibly hummable." The Sunday Telegraph
"As with Joseph, the production is a rehash rather than a shiny new showcase - David Gilmore's remorseless staging from 1993. Resistance is futile: every scene is shoved to the stage's front, and played fast, loud and amped to the max... This revival of Grease is clean, quick and comes with extra sauce." The Sunday Times
"Having trouble with your brain? Thinking too much? Then go get your grey matter wiped out by Grease, which is now shaking masonry and blasting audiences at thePiccadilly Theatre following its garish tenure on Saturday-night television... Susan McFadden, as Sandy the high-school new girl in the stage version of the Seventies film... is more decibel-busting Shirley Bassey than squeaky-clean Olivia Newton-John. Yet when it comes to Hopelessly Devoted To You, she reveals a voice sweeter than tooth-melting candy... But, however luminous Danny Bayne seemed on TV, he is only so-so and not all that charming on stage. There's no lovable vulnerability beneath Danny's macho bragging. Instead heseems to have one eye on the audience and the other on Sandy's brassiere. But if truth be told, you need no more talent to sing either of these parts than you do to tackle the National Anthem. What matters is being fit enough for the dancing, and on this score Bayne and McFadden do keep up with the company in Arlene Phillips's tumultuous choreography. Otherwise, David Gilmore's production is like staged karaoke: one set piece after another." The Mail on Sunday
Grease in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 25 July 2007, opened on 8 August 2007 and closed on 30 April 2011.