Facts From Grease the Musical

by Shelby Winchell

"Grease" was performed on the stage before becoming a movie.

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The musical "Grease" was co-written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey; the idea came to the two friends while at a party. The production, set in the 1950s at fictional Rydell High School, follows a group of teenagers as they deal with friendship, relationships and a love for fast cars. "Grease" became a blockbuster hit at the movies, and, in 1979, was named the longest-running show on Broadway.

Stage Production First

"Grease" was a stage production long before it became a smash hit at the box office. The musical opened in 1971 at a Chicago theater as an experiment. As the show grew in popularity, it was moved to the Eden Theater in New York City in 1972 before it was moved to a Broadway stage. The film version, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, was released in 1978. Once the movie hit theaters, fans wanted to see it being performed live on stage. For more than four decades the musical version has been performed around the world including on stages in London, Mexico, South Africa, Japan and Denmark.

Different Songs

Songs in the original stage musical differ slightly from songs performed in the movie version of "Grease." The stage show featured four songs not featured in the movie: "Rydell Alma Mater," "Freddy, My Love," "Alone at the Drive-In Movie" and "All Choked Up." All four songs were cut from the stage production after the movie debuted, and were replaced with movie favorites "Grease is the Word," "Hopelessly Devoted," "Sandy" and "You're the One That I Want." In the movie, the song "Greased Lightnin'" is performed by Danny Zuko (played by John Travolta), while in the stage version the song is always sung by the actor portraying Kenickie.

Hair and Wardrobe

The wardrobe for "Grease" includes white shirts, jeans, wigs and lots of hair spray. The stage production requires 142 costume changes including 16 leather jackets and 59 different wigs. For the London production, 720 white T-shirts are washed every month, and 10 cans of hairspray and eight tubes of gel are used each week.

Notable Actors

John Travolta appeared in the "Grease" tour when he was 17 prior to being cast as Danny in the film; on the tour, Travolta played the role of "Doody," a nerdy character whose role was eliminated from the movie version. Richard Gere played the role of Danny in London in 1973; prior to performing in London, Gere was listed as the understudy for the Broadway version of the musical. The 1980s pop singer Debbie Gibson played the role of Sandy in London in 1993. Other actors who have played Danny and Sandy include Ian Kelsey, Craig McLachlan, Darren Day, Luke Gross, Steven Houghton, Shane Richie, Elaine Paige, Hayley Evetts, Suzanne Carley, Irene Warren, Caroline Sheen, Marissa Dunlop, Shona Lindsay and Samantha Janus.

Photo Credits

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