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“Witty entertainment with something to say about teen sexuality, peer pressure and the erotic power of pop music. It must have been there all along, hiding under layers of poodle skirts and Clearasil.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post Dispatch
“New Line opts to go back to basics and present the play more as it was originally conceived complete with raw language and frank sexuality. This is a horny and vulgar Grease that flips the bird at convention. It's a daring approach that pays off for the most part… While I've always enjoyed the movie, it focused less on the other characters and plot elements and became more of a star vehicle. What New Line is presenting is more of an ensemble piece and, thankfully the cast delivers an entertaining night of theatre with attitude.” – Chris Gibson, KDHX-FM
did New Line, the Bad Boy of Musical Theatre, produce Grease?
Because we don’t think people usually
see this show the way its creators intended, and we wanted to return it to
its rowdy, dangerous, over-sexed, insightful roots.
is a remarkably well-crafted concept musical (modeled in part on Hair)
that presents to us a genuinely authentic snapshot of one pivotal moment
in American history – 1959 – when rock and roll was giving birth to the
Sexual Revolution, and everything in American culture was about to be
turned upside down. Through Danny and Sandy,
shows us America crossing over from the 50s to the 60s. Like Hair,
was meant to be aggressive, unpolished, un-traditional, and
un-commercial. And now it is again.
is about the beginning of a new era in the history of American
sexuality, fueled by cars, drive-in movies, and more than anything, rock
the first music ever created
specifically for teenagers. When it first opened, GREASE
originally took its inspiration from HAIR which had opened just a few
years earlier, focusing above all on authenticity, rejecting Broadway
polish and glitz, creating a "happening" more than a traditional
musical. New Line now returns the show to its unconventional, rebellious
GREASE is set in 1958 and 1959, and as an historical document it bridges the gap between the cynical weariness of The Nervous Set and Expresso Bongo in the 1950s and the sexual explosion of Hair in the 60s and The Rocky Horror Show in the 70s. And just as Rocky Horror does, GREASE shows us how America reacted to all this through its two main characters.
Sandy Dumbrowski represents mainstream America in 1958, not quite ready to throw off the sexual repression of the conforming 50s for the sexual freedom of the 60s, but slowly realizing that pop culture icons like Sandra Dee and Lucy Ricardo were sexless cardboard cutouts utterly divorced from real life. Danny Zuko represents that segment of American teens already sexually active in the 1940s and 50s, who ultimately wins over the conforming Sandy to a new, more free, more playful vision of sexuality.
New Line presented this classic piece of Broadway history the way it was meant to be – with those terrific, funny songs they cut from the movie: "Alone at a Drive-In Movie," "Mooning," "All Choked Up," "It's Raining on Prom Night," and others. Closely inspired by the songs of ground-breaking musicians like Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Tea Queens, The Cadillacs, The TeenChords, The Kodaks, The Penguins, The Everly Brothers, and others, this is the most authentic 1950s sound ever put on stage.
The New Line cast included Brendan Allred (Danny), Beth Bishop (Sandy), Mara Bollini (Cha-Cha), Kiné Brown (Marty), Cindy Duggan (Miss Lynch), Joe Garner (Sonny), Erin Marie Hogan (Patty), Matthew Korinko (Vince Fontaine), Katie Nestor (Jan), Chris Owens (Eugene), Isabel Pastrana (Frenchy), Jeffrey Pruett (Johnny Casino/Teen Angel), B.C. Stands (Kenickie), Scott Tripp (Doody), Lainie Wade (Rizzo), and Jeff Wright (Roger). Grease was directed by Scott Miller and Khnemu Menu-Ra, with choreography by Robin Berger, set design by G.P. Hunsaker, lighting design by Ken Zinkl, and costume design by Russ Bettlach.
Want to explore more? We recommend:
The book Making a Broadway Musical, Making It Run : An Anatomy of Entrepreneurship, about the creation of Grease, its first production in Chicago, and its subsequent record-breaking run on Broadway
Michael Feingold's fascinating essay, "Goodbye to Sandra Dee," the introduction to the 1972 published script
The 1978 Grease film on videotape or DVD (very different from the stage show, including several different songs), plus some fun Grease trivia about both the stage and screen versions. And DON'T MISS the Greaser Babies...!
The official website of Alan Freed, one of the first DJs to play rock and roll, and one of the inspirations for Grease's Vince Fontaine, as well as some great audio clips from Freed's radio shows. Also, the FiftiesWeb website, full of pop culture info on the 1950s, and Drive-In Theater.com
The awesome 1957 Roger Corman film Teenage Doll, and a great boxed set including The Wild Ride and T-Bird Gang, some fun drive-in movies depicting the kind of kids that the characters in Grease THINK they are... Also, Sandra Dee's Gidget and the Teen Movies of the 50s webpage
Some excellent documentaries about America in the late 50s, the world of Grease --
The 10-part The History of Rock and Roll
The fascinating Drive-In Movie Memories
The hilarious and revealing Heavy Petting
And the funny/disturbing The Atomic Cafe
And some cool books on that era --
The outstanding, thoroughly researched The Century of Sex: Playboy's History of the Sexual Revolution, 1900-1999
The excellent Teenagers: An American History
David Halberstam's insightful and often surprising chronicle of America in the 1950s, The Fifties
A great collection of essays, Gender and Culture in the 1950s
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