Grease is a musical with music, lyrics, and a book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Named after the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as greasers and set in 1959 at the fictional Rydell High School in Northwest Chicago[1] (based on Taft High School in Chicago, Illinois,[2] and named after rock singer Bobby Rydell[3]), the musical follows ten working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of peer pressure, politics, personal core values, and love.[3]

Original Broadway cast recording
  • Jim Jacobs
  • Warren Casey
Productions1971 Chicago
1972 Broadway
1973 West End
1979 West End revival
1993 West End revival
1994 Broadway revival
1994 US tour
2001 West End revival
2002 West End revival
2007 West End revival
2007 Broadway revival
2008 US tour
2017 UK tour
2022 West End revival
2023 West End revival

The score borrows heavily from the sounds of early rock and roll. In its original production in Chicago, Grease was a raunchy, raw, aggressive, vulgar show. Subsequent productions toned down the more risqué content.[4] The show mentions social issues such as teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, and gang violence; its themes include love, friendship, teenage rebellion, sexual exploration during adolescence. Jacobs described the show's basic plot as a subversion of common tropes of 1950s cinema, since the female lead, who in many 1950s films transformed the alpha male into a more sensitive and sympathetic character, is instead drawn into the man's influence and transforms into his wild, roguish fantasy.[5]

Since it was first performed on February 5, 1971, at Kingston Mines nightclub in Chicago,[6] Grease has been successful on both stage and screen, but the content has been diluted and its teenage characters have become less Chicago habitués (the characters' Polish-American backgrounds in particular are ignored with last names often changed, although two Italian-American characters are left identifiably ethnic) and more generic. The first Broadway production opened on June 7, 1972; when it closed in 1980, Grease's 3,388-performance run was the longest yet in Broadway history, although it was surpassed by A Chorus Line on September 29, 1983. It went on to become a West End hit, a successful feature film, two popular Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007, and a staple of regional theatre, summer stock, community theatre, and high school and middle school drama groups.[7] It remains Broadway's 17th longest-running show.[8]

Grease was adapted in 1978 as a feature film, which starred John Travolta (who himself had been in stage productions in a different role) and British-Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, removed the musical's Chicago urban setting, and changed some plot elements, characters, and songs while adding new songs and elaborating on some plot elements only alluded to in the musical. Some of these revisions have been incorporated into revivals of the musical. A 2016 live TV musical used elements from both the original stage version and the film.[9] A 1982 film sequel, Grease 2, included only a few supporting characters from the film and musical and had no involvement from Jacobs or Casey; Jacobs has gone on record to voice his disapproval of Grease 2.

Production history edit

Original productions and Broadway edit

The show's original production was directed by Guy Barile, choreographed by Ronna Kaye and produced by the Kingston Mines Theatre Company founded by June Pyskacek on Chicago's Lincoln Avenue. The script was based on Jim Jacobs' experience at William Taft High School, Chicago.[3] Warren Casey collaborated with Jim and together they wrote the music and lyrics. It ran for eight months.[10] The cast: Doug Stevenson (Danny), Leslie Goto (Sandy), Sue Williams (Rizzo), Polly Pen (Patty), Gary Houston (Roger), Marilu Henner (Marty), James Canning (Doody), Hedda Lubin (Frenchy), Bruce Hickey (Kenickie), Sheila Ray Ceaser (Jan), Bill Cervetti (Miller), Jerry Bolnick (Sonny), Judy Brubaker (Miss Lynch), Mike O'Connor (Vince Fontaine), Steve Munro (Eugene), Barbara Munro (Cha Cha), Mac Hamilton (Teen Angel) and George Lopez (Bum). In addition to the "R-rated" profanity and deliberate use of shock value, the Chicago version of Grease included a substantially different songbook, which was shorter and included multiple references to real Chicago landmarks.[11]

Producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox saw the show and made a deal to produce it Off-Broadway. The team headed to New York City to collaborate on the New York production of Grease. It was after test runs of the original Chicago production had drawn extremely poor reviews that the production team transformed Grease into its familiar form.[12] The new production, directed by Tom Moore and choreographed by Patricia Birch (who later choreographed the film adaptation, and directed the ill-fated sequel), opened Off-Broadway at the Eden Theatre in lower Manhattan on February 14, 1972. Though Grease opened geographically off-Broadway, it did so under first class Broadway contracts.[13] The show was deemed eligible for the 1972 Tony Awards, receiving seven Tony Award nominations.

On June 7, 1972, the production moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway, and on November 21, it moved to the Royale Theatre there, where it ran until January 27, 1980. For the five final weeks of the run, the show moved to the larger Majestic Theatre. By the time it closed on April 13, 1980, it had run 3,388 performances.

The original Broadway cast included Barry Bostwick as Danny, Carole Demas as Sandy, Adrienne Barbeau as Rizzo, and Timothy Meyers as Kenickie, with Alan Paul, Walter Bobbie and Marya Small in supporting roles. Replacements later in the run included Jeff Conaway as Danny, Candice Earley as Sandy, John Lansing as Danny, Peter Gallagher as Danny, Richard Gere as Sonny, Ilene Graff as Sandy, Randee Heller as Rizzo, Marilu Henner as Marty, Judy Kaye as Rizzo, Marcia Mitzman Gaven as Rizzo, Patrick Swayze as Danny, John Travolta as Doody, Treat Williams as Danny, Laurie Graff as Frenchy, and Jerry Zaks as Kenickie.

1973 London run and 1979 return engagement edit

After an out-of-town tryout in Coventry,[14] Grease made its London debut at the New London Theatre on June 26, 1973, with a cast that included Richard Gere as Danny, Stacey Gregg as Sandy, and Jacquie-Ann Carr as Rizzo.[15][16] Later Paul Nicholas and Elaine Paige took over the leads. The production closed on February 14, 1974.[17]

The show was revived at the Astoria Theatre from June 7 to September 22, 1979, with Michael Howe as Danny, Jacqueline Reddin as Sandy, and Hilary Labow as Rizzo. The company also included Tracey Ullman as Frenchy and Su Pollard as Cha-Cha.[18][19]

1993 London revival edit

The revival opened at the Dominion Theatre before transferring to the Cambridge Theatre in October 1996, where it ran until September 11, 1999. Directed by David Gilmore and produced by Robert Stigwood (who had also produced the film), the opening cast included Craig McLachlan (Danny); Debbie Gibson (Sandy — Sonia, then Samantha Janus later replaced Gibson as Sandy); Mike Doyle (Vince Fontaine); Tamzin Outhwaite (Patty); Shane Ritchie (Kenickie) and Sally Ann Triplett (Rizzo). (Variety, Review Abroad Grease, August 2–August 8, 1993) McLachlan was succeeded by Shane Richie, Luke Goss, Ian Kelsey and Darren Day. The production's success led to the first British national tour which featured Shane Ritchie as Danny, Helen Way as Sandy, Toby Hinson as Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel, Ben Richards/Alex Bourne as Kenickie and Michele Hooper as Rizzo. The score included four songs written for the film adaptation: "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Sandy", "You're the One That I Want", and the title number. As in the film, the Burger Palace Boys' were renamed the T-Birds for this revival.

1994 Broadway revival and U.S. tour edit

After 20 previews, a Broadway revival directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun premiered on May 11, 1994, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it ran for 1,505 performances. The opening cast included Ricky Paull Goldin (Danny), Susan Wood (Sandy), Rosie O'Donnell (Rizzo), Sam Harris (Doody), Hunter Foster (Roger), Megan Mullally (Marty), and Billy Porter (Teen Angel). The production set a new standard for star replacements, casting celebrities from different entertainment sectors for limited engagements. Some of these notable performers were Linda Blair, Debby Boone, Chubby Checker, Dominique Dawes, Micky Dolenz, Sheena Easton, Debbie Gibson, Jasmine Guy, Al Jarreau, Lucy Lawless, Darlene Love, Maureen McCormick, Joe Piscopo, Mackenzie Phillips, Jon Secada, and Brooke Shields.[20] Shields proved so popular in the role of Rizzo that the cast album was re-released with her voice substituting for O'Donnell's.[21]

A U.S. national tour of the 1994 production started in September 1994 in New Haven, Connecticut, and ran for several years. The opening tour cast included Sally Struthers (Miss Lynch), who stayed with the tour for several years, Angela Pupello (Rizzo), Rex Smith (Danny), Trisha M. Gorman (Sandy), and Davy Jones (Vince Fontaine). Brooke Shields (Rizzo) started on the tour in November 1994 before joining the Broadway cast.

1996 U.S. tour edit

This tour, produced by the Troika Organization, was a non-union bus & truck playing mostly one-nighters and split week engagements primarily in smaller markets. The production, which ran for two years, was directed by Ray DeMattis with choreography by Tony Parise and music direction by Helen Gregory. The original cast featured Randy Bobish (Danny Zuko), Nicole Greenwood (Sandy Dumbrowski), Gary Martin (Kenickie), Christine Hudman (Betty Rizzo), Timothy Quinlan (Roger), Kimberly Wharton (Jan), Bruce Smith (Doody), Kathleen Connolly (Frenchy), Jeffrey Shubart (Sonny LaTierri), Laura Hornberger (Marty), Debbie Damp (Patty Simcox), Michael Giambrone (Eugene Florczyk), Juan Betancourt (Johnny Casino), Jamie Patterson (Teen Angel), Holly Ann Kling (Cha-Cha DiGregorio) and Steven Sackman (Vince Fontaine). Frankie Avalon starred as the Teen Angel for a one-week engagement at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach (December 10–15, 1996).[22]

2003 U.S. tour edit

This tour was directed by Ray DeMattis and featured choreography by Christopher Gattelli. The cast starred Frankie Avalon as the Angel, with Jamey Isenor (Danny Zuko) and Hanna-Liina Võsa (Sandy Dumbrowski), Jason Harper (Roger), Danny Smith (Sonny LaTierri), John Ashley (Kenickie), Sarah Hubbard (Frenchy), Craig McEldowney (Doody), Kirsten Allyn Michaels (Marty), Jaqueline Colmer (Betty Rizzo), Cortney Harper (Jan) and Arthur J. Callahan (Vince Fontaine).[23]

2007 Broadway and London revivals and UK tours edit

A second Broadway revival, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on July 24, 2007, and opened on August 19, 2007. Max Crumm and Laura Osnes were selected to portray Danny and Sandy via viewer votes cast during the run of the NBC reality series Grease: You're the One that I Want!. The original score includes four songs written for the film adaptation: "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Sandy", "You're the One That I Want", and the title number. The Burger Palace Boys' name is the T-Birds in this revival. The production ended on January 4, 2009, after 31 previews and 554 performances. At the announcement of its closure, the producers revealed that the production recouped its entire investment during its 52nd playing week.[24]

A West End revival opened at the Piccadilly Theatre, London on August 8, 2007, and ran for nearly four years (the longest running show in the Piccadilly Theatre's history). The leads were similarly cast via ITV's Grease Is the Word, with Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden playing Danny and Sandy.[25][26] The production closed on April 30, 2011, after over 1,300 performances with a U.K. tour to begin on May 6, 2011, in Edinburgh.[27]

The UK tour features Danny Bayne as Danny, Carina Gillespie as Sandy, Ricky Rojas as Kenickie, Kate Somerset How as Rizzo, Derek Andrews as Roger, Laura Wilson as Jan, Richard Vincent as Doody, Lauren Stroud as Frenchy, Josh Dever as Sonny, Lois Urwin as Marty, Darren John as Eugene, Sammy Kelly as Patty, Jason Capewell as Teen Angel/Vince Fontaine, Nancy Hill as Miss Lynch, and Sophie Zucchini as Cha Cha.

In 2017, Grease started touring the UK again, this time starring the Wanted's Tom Parker as Danny Zuko, BBC Over the Rainbow winner Danielle Hope as Sandy and Strictly Come Dancing's Louisa Lytton.

A further UK and Ireland tour of Grease was scheduled to commence from Curve, Leicester, on 30 July 2021. This production will star Peter Andre as Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine. The production will be directed by Nikolai Foster and choreographed by Arlene Phillips.[28] It is unknown if this tour went to production or not, as it was repeatedly rescheduled from earlier 2021 dates as well as its originally scheduled tour in 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2008 U.S. tour edit

A U.S. national tour began on December 2, 2008, in Providence, Rhode Island, and closed on May 23, 2010, at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio.[29] Taylor Hicks reprised his role as the Teen Angel after playing the part on Broadway, with Eric Schneider as Danny and Emily Padgett as Sandy.[30] Lauren Ashley Zakrin replaced Emily Padgett as Sandy in October and Ace Young joined the tour as Danny on December 1, 2009.[31]

2011 Chicago revival - The Original Grease edit

In 2011, a revival of the original Kingston Mines production was run in Chicago. It was titled The Original Grease and carried the tagline "Restored. Revised. R-Rated. Returned to Chicago". It featured songs and scenes from drafts of both the original Chicago and Broadway productions. Unlike the school version, this version reinstated the raunchiness of the original show and references to Chicago locations. The sixth Burger Palace Boy was restored and named Miller.[32] The Chicago production of The Original Grease opened on May 2 and closed on August 21.[33] This version was presented once more in Australia in 2016 from April 6 to May 7.[34] In Chicago, Adrian Aguilar played Danny and Kelly Davis Wilson played Sandy.[35]

2019 UK and Ireland tour and 2022/2023 London runs edit

A new production of Grease ran from 17 May to 29 October 2022 at the Dominion Theatre in London's West End, following a UK and Ireland tour in 2019–2021.[36] This revival was directed by Nikolai Foster (artistic director of the Curve) and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, with scenic and costume design by Colin Richmond, orchestrations and musical supervision by Sarah Travis, lighting by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Tom Marshall and Richard Brooker, and casting by David Grindrod. The production played a return engagement at the Dominion Theatre from 2 June to 28 October 2023.[37]

International productions edit

There have been professional productions of Grease in Argentina (with Florencia Peña and Gustavo Monje), Austria (with Pia Douwes) and Canada (a 1998 French spoken/English sung version incorporating songs from the movie starring Marina Orsini as Rizzo and Serge Postigo as Danny).

In 1984, the Mexican [then pre-teen] pop band Timbiriche starred in the musical, with Sasha Sokol and Benny Ibarra in the leading roles, which was an overwhelming success. The band also released an album (Vaselina) featuring themes from the musical. The cast included other members of Timbiriche (Diego Schoening, Mariana Garza, Alix Bauer, Paulina Rubio and Erik Rubin), along with other child singers and actors such as Eduardo Capetillo, Stephanie Salas, Thalía, Edith Márquez, Lolita Cortés, Hector Suarez Gomis, Usi Velasco and Angélica Ruvalcaba. The musical was produced by the Mexican actress and producer Julissa.

In 1994, the musical was revived at the Hidalgo Theater in Mexico City, by producers Alejandro Ibarra and Julissa. The revival cast included Alejandro Ibarra, Juan Carlos Casasola, and Arturo G. Alvarez.[38][39]

A Spanish revival ran successfully at Teatre Victòria, Barcelona from October 3, 2006, to January 6, 2008. After a short national tour, the production was transferred to Teatro Nuevo Alcalá, Madrid, where it ran from October 14, 2008, to January 31, 2010, and then continued touring Spain until it finally closed on August 1, 2010, becoming one of Spain's all-time longest running musical productions, with 1,090 performances. Directed by Ricard Reguant, the original cast included Carlos Solano (later alternating the role with Tony Bernetti) as Danny Zuko, María Adamuz as Sandy (later Replaced by Edurne and Gisela), and Elena Gadel as Betty Rizzo,

A New Zealand Production, ran at the Civic Theatre in Auckland during August 2010. The production featured the South African cast, with Jonathan Roxmouth as Danny, Bethany Dickson as Sandy and Genna Galloway as Rizzo.[40][41]

A second Spanish revival directed and choreographed by Coco Comín ran at Cúpula Las Arenas, Barcelona from November 15, 2011, to January 22, 2012, and then was transferred to Teatro Coliseum, Madrid from March 6, 2012, to May 6, 2012, before starting a national tour. Edurne reprised the role of Sandy, During the Madrid run, the singer Julio Iglesias Jr. guest starred as Teen Angel in some performances.

In France, the first production of Grease opened in November 1999 at Palais des Sports in Paris. The production moved to the Dôme Disney Village in Chessy in 2005.[42] The show was revived in 2008 at the Comédia in Paris with Cécilia Cara as Sandy. This new production win a Globe de Cristal Awards in 2009 and moved to Palais des congrès in 2009 and to Le Palace in 2012, after a break in 2011.[43] A third revival opened on September 28, 2017 at Théâtre Mogador in Paris. It is the first production completely in French, the previous ones were in French with English songs. Despite originally being billed as a limited engagement, it was extended to July 8, 2018 following its success.[44]

An Australian revival opened at Brisbane's Lyric Theatre on August 27, 2013, before heading on an Australian tour.[45] The cast included Rob Mills as Danny, Gretel Scarlett as Sandy, Anthony Callea as Johnny Casino, Stephen Mahy as Kenickie, Lucy Maunder as Rizzo, Todd McKenney as Teen Angel, and Bert Newton as Vince Fontaine.[46]

A June 2022 Australian production, directed by Drew Anthony and choreographed by Jamie and Susie Rolton, was staged at Perth's Royale Theatre, with John Berry as Danny, Elaina O'Connor as Sandy, Peter Cumins as Teen Angel, Blake Williams as Vince Fontaine and Lucy Williamson as Miss Lynch.[citation needed]

A 2023-24 Australian tour production, directed by Luke Joslin and choreographed by Eric Giancola was announced in May 2023.[47][48] The principal cast was later revealed in June 2023 with Patti Newton as Miss Lynch, Marcia Hines as Teen Angel, Jay Laga’aia as Vince Fontaine, Annelise Hall as Sandy and Joseph Spanti as Danny Zuko.[49]

Adaptations edit

Film edit

The Robert Stigwood Organization adapted Grease into a 1978 feature film, directed by Randal Kleiser. John Travolta, who had played Doody on Broadway and the national tour, performed as lead Danny Zuko, while Olivia Newton-John, an English Australian country-pop singer, was cast as Sandy; to accommodate the casting move, the character was rewritten as Australian immigrant Sandy Olsson (named after the maiden name of Ann-Margret, who was briefly considered for the role in the film), and parts of the score were replaced. Substantial portions of the script — which included replaced or reduced supporting character roles and added on-screen roles for characters unseen in the stage version — were written in by Bronte Woodard.

Grease was a major success both for Stigwood and for Paramount Pictures, the latter of which re-released the film several times; the film soundtrack made international hits out of several of the songs. Paramount also produced a sequel Grease 2 in 1982, which featured a younger class of students at Rydell High School led by Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer. Unfortunately, given the high expectations set by the original film, Grease 2 was both a financial disappointment and a critical failure that Jim Jacobs disowned after its release.[50][11] In the 2010s, work began on expanding the Grease brand into a full-fledged media franchise, with two prequels in production, Summer Lovin' (a film focusing on Danny and Sandy's summer before the events of the original Grease) and Rise of the Pink Ladies (a television series documenting the ascent of the Pink Ladies clique).

Television production edit

On January 31, 2016, in the wake of similar productions that NBC had performed for other musicals, Fox broadcast a live production of Grease, known as Grease: Live, as a television special starring Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens and Jordan Fisher.[51][52]

Synopsis edit

(Because of changes to the musical that have been made since the 1978 film adaptation, several variants exist. In the event two songs are listed at any given point, the first is from the 1972 Off-Broadway version, and the second is from revivals that use the film music, such as the 2007 version.)

Act I edit

At revivals that use the 1978 song "Grease", it is typically inserted at or near the beginning of the show.

At the Rydell High Class of 1959 reunion ("Alma Mater"), old maid English teacher Miss Lynch introduces former cheerleader/yearbook-editor Patty Simcox Honeywell and class valedictorian Eugene Florczyk. Eugene gives a rousing speech, mentioning that the alumni who are missing from the reunion are surely present in spirit. The scene segues to bring in the greaser gang known as the Burger Palace Boys (known in later versions as the "T-Birds") and their auxiliary, the "Pink Ladies", as they sing a cruder version of the Rydell alma mater ("Alma Mater (Parody)").

Flashing back to the first day of high school in fall 1958, the Pink Ladies sit in the lunchroom, and the Burger Palace Boys sit at the entrance to the school. One of the Pink Ladies, Frenchy, introduces her new neighbor Sandy Dumbrowski, who had been unjustly rejected from a Catholic school, to the others (Marty, Jan and Rizzo), as well as Patty. Sandy tells of how she had a brief love affair the summer before, which ended with unresolved love. Meanwhile, womanizing greaser Danny Zuko is telling the Burger Palace Boys (Kenickie, Roger, Doody and Sonny) the story of his own summer fling ("Summer Nights"). The Pink Ladies soon after realize that Sandy's summer fling was the same Danny Zuko that attends Rydell High and arrange for the two to bump into each other at school; the resulting meeting is tense and awkward, as Danny had previously told Sandy that he attended a private academy and does not want to admit to the Burger Palace Boys that she was the woman he was talking about. As the Burger Palace Boys leave, Sandy is hurt and angry, but the Pink Ladies cheer her up, by inviting her over to Marty's pajama party.

Shortly afterwards, the teenagers gather in the hall as Doody shows off his new guitar and performs a song ("Those Magic Changes").

At Marty's pajama party, the girls experiment with wine, cigarettes, pierce their ears and talk about boys. The sheltered Sandy goes into shock and falls ill from seeing blood when the Pink Ladies try to pierce her ears, leading them to mock her when she's not in the room (in some revivals, the song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" is placed here, mirroring the film). Marty tells about her long-distance courtship with a Marine named Freddy and it is implied that she maintains it only because of the lavish gifts he sends her from Japan ("Freddy, My Love").

That same night, the Burger Palace Boys are busy stealing hubcaps, unaware that the hubcaps are on Kenickie's car, Greased Lightnin'. Unfazed by the others' skepticism, Kenickie sings of the upgrades needed to make the car a racing-worthy chick magnet ("Greased Lightnin'").

Danny sees Sandy again at her cheerleader practice, and tries to apologize for his behavior. Patty interrupts and flirts with Danny. Patty informs Danny that track try-outs are nearing, and Danny tells Sandy that he will join the track team to prove himself; he leaves as Patty and Sandy practice cheering ("Rydell Fight Song").

As the Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies gather at the park, Danny reveals to the rest of the greasers that he has joined the track team, much to their dismay and skepticism. After Roger and Jan bicker about food, drink and religion, she asks him how he earned the nickname Rump; he explains that, as "King of the Mooners", he has a hobby of baring his backside to unsuspecting victims, and in the process, both reveal their affections for each other ("Mooning"). Rizzo teases Danny for falling for a girl who resembles the excessively proper teenage ingénue, Sandra Dee, and the other greasers join in as she makes fun of Sandy, who has not arrived at the picnic yet ("Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee").

Sandy, working on a biology assignment with Eugene, comes in just as the greasers finish making fun of her. She attacks Rizzo in a fit of rage and erroneously assumes Danny is the one behind the mockery. Furious, she tells Danny that she wishes she never met him and storms out of the picnic. Danny shrugs off Sandy's negative response, and the greasers pair off for the upcoming sock hop. Danny teases Marty for not having a date (recommending Eugene), and the greasers all laugh ("We Go Together").

For revivals that use "Hopelessly Devoted to You", the exact placement varies. It sometimes replaces the first rendition of "We Go Together" and in other examples, such as the 2007 revival, it is placed early in Act II.

Act II edit

The night of the sock hop arrives ("Shakin' At the High School Hop"). Sandy is at home by herself, listening to the radio and crying over how much she misses Danny ("It's Raining on Prom Night").

Meanwhile, Kenickie comes into the dance with his date, Cha-Cha DiGregorio, a girl from Saint Bernadette's Academy. Patty tries to pair up with Danny, trash-talking Sandy's cheerleading skills in the process, but is unable to get out of her promise to dance with Eugene despite Rizzo trying to seduce Eugene as a distraction. Kenickie ends up paired off with Rizzo, and Danny with Cha-Cha. The MC Vince Fontaine, a radio disc jockey, begins the hand jive dance contest, and everyone eagerly participates as he tags the contestants out ("Born to Hand Jive"). In the end, Danny and Cha-Cha are the winners. Amongst the awards given to the couple, Danny receives two free drive-in movie tickets.

Sometime later outside of the Burger Palace hangout, Kenickie, Doody, and Sonny run into Frenchy. The boys are armed with an "arsenal" of household items and reveal that, to their surprise, Cha-Cha was the girlfriend of someone in the boys' rival gang, the Flaming Dukes; the Dukes, hearing of Cha-Cha's dancing with the Burger Palace Boys, challenged the boys to a rumble. Danny sprints into the scene wearing his track suit, to the disbelief of the other boys. Danny tells the boys he cannot partake in the rumble because of a track meet and sprints off.

The three remaining boys go into the Burger Palace for a snack before the fight, and Frenchy laments at what to do with her life, having dropped out of beauty school in frustration at failing all of her classes. The heavenly Teen Angel appears with a chorus of back-up singing angels and tells her to return to high school ("Beauty School Dropout").

The three boys exit the Burger Palace, bemoaning Danny's betrayal while only halfheartedly noticing Roger is unaccounted for. They wait for the Flaming Dukes, but the rival gang never turns up. Roger finally turns up with only a broken antenna as a weapon; in response, the other three proceed to strip Roger of his pants and shoes.

At the drive-in, Danny tries to make up for his behavior and offers Sandy his class ring. She initially is thrilled, but pulls back and exits the car when he tries to move beyond a kiss. Danny laments his loneliness ("Alone at a Drive-In Movie" or "Sandy").

Several days later, Sandy and the greasers — without Danny — are gathered in Jan's basement ("Rock 'N' Roll Party Queen"). Rizzo, who missed her period, fears she is pregnant and tells Marty (who herself laments that Vince tried to spike her drink at the dance) that the father is a stranger who had sex with her with a cheap, broken condom; word gets back to everyone else. The boys offer support as they leave; Rizzo rejects it, which leads Sandy to ask her why and concludes that Kenickie is the presumed father. Rizzo responds by saying that she is a better person than others make her out to be and that showing weakness is the worst thing she knows ("There Are Worse Things I Could Do"). Rizzo leaves, and Sandy decides what she needs to do to fit in with the greasers ("Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" (Reprise)).

The next day, the boys are hanging out at the Burger Palace. A dejected Patty reveals Danny, who follows her in, has reverted to his old ways and quit the track team. Sandy comes in alongside the Pink Ladies, having transformed herself from an innocent schoolgirl into a greaser's fantasy, punching out a dismayed Patty. Danny is delighted at this change and the couple express their mutual feelings for each other ("All Choked Up" or "You're the One That I Want").

Afterwards, the greasers prepare to head to Roger's to watch The Mickey Mouse Club, inviting Patty along. Frenchy takes a job as a makeup saleswoman at Woolworth's, Rizzo reveals that she is not pregnant, and she and Kenickie reunite. All ends happily, and the Burger Palace Boys, the Pink Ladies, Sandy, and Patty sing about how they will always be friends to the end ("We Go Together" (Reprise)).

Revival changes edit

Due to the popularity of the 1978 film adaptation, which made several changes to the musical's songs and themes (many to accommodate its casting choice for singer Olivia Newton-John as Sandy). The subsequent revivals adopted several of the changes made in the film, particularly the replacement of several songs, Sandy is portrayed with blonde hair instead of the original brunette, and the renaming of the Burger Palace Boys to their film name, the T-Birds. However, in the revival, the role of Sandy Dumbrowski is not changed from the original Broadway production.

School version edit

In order to make the original musical suitable for young performers and audiences, Jim Jacobs decided to write a "school version" of the musical. This edition eliminates all of the references to cigarettes and alcohol, and also any swearing or bad language. Most of the songs have also undergone changes as well; the numbers are all shortened greatly and edited for content/language. Some plot lines are missing from the school version, such as Rizzo's pregnancy and her song "There Are Worse Things I Could Do." This section is entirely cut from the script and score. The beginning of the pajama party in Marty's bedroom is also cut. (In this version, the Pink Ladies do not offer Sandy cigarettes or wine. Instead it begins directly with piercing her ears.) Overall, this version is considered to be G-rated.[53]

In addition to the removal of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do", the following songs of the School Version have undergone lyric changes:[54]

  • "Alma Mater Parody"
  • "Summer Nights"
  • "Freddy, My Love"
  • "Greased Lightnin'"
  • "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee"
  • "Beauty School Dropout"

The remainder of the songs have been greatly edited for time, deleting several verses from the original songs.[54]

A version of the play is available that keeps some of the adult references and innuendo but excises some of the more explicit lyrics.

Cast and characters edit

  • Danny Zuko: A smooth greaser from Chicago and successful womanizer, the de facto leader of the Burger Palace Boys has his life upended when he falls for a strait-laced square during his summer vacation leading into senior year. Danny was based upon Tom Meyer, Jacobs's cousin.[12]
  • Sandra "Sandy" Dombrowski: An ingénue when she moves into the neighborhood, she experiences severe culture shock as she learns her summer boyfriend's true nature but eventually transforms into Danny's fantasy dame after she is unable to resist her continued attraction to him. Renamed with surname Olsson for the film and Young for the 2016 TV production. Sandy was based upon Meyer's high school girlfriend, Jeanie Kozemczak. Jacobs noted that Meyer and Kozemczak broke up after high school and that Meyer never fully got over her, while Kozemczak eventually married another man.[12]
  • Betty Rizzo: Described by Jim Jacobs as a "tough little Italian", Rizzo is the cynical leader of the Pink Ladies and a strong alpha female who embraces the low culture and refuses to show her feelings. While she is condescending toward almost everyone, she and Danny have a particularly longstanding hostility toward each other, and she openly mocks Sandy in song.
  • Kenickie: A hard-nosed tough guy, Kenickie has great pride in his investment, a used car he has named Greased Lightning. He has a tempestuous on-again, off-again relationship with Rizzo and is often at odds with Roger. Kenickie is given a larger role in the film as Danny's best friend. He was named Miller in the original Chicago production.
  • Doody: A member of the Burger Palace Boys, Doody has some childlike mannerisms and is shown to have great difficulty when approaching his crush, Frenchy, or handling tense situations. He fantasizes about being a great rock-and-roll guitarist. Doody was one of two characters based upon Jacobs himself, representing his more innocent side.[12]
  • Dominic "Sonny" LaTierri: The only member of the Burger Palace Boys without a musical number, Sonny is a character who imagines himself a Casanova, but most high-school girls find him repulsive. He is also quite cowardly, wilting in the face of any criticism.
  • Roger "Rump": A sardonic yet very self-confident Burger Palace Boy who is easily able to win over Jan and willing to go into a rumble with only a whip antenna as a weapon. He is frequently seen eating fast food and earned his nickname because he was a proficient mooner. He is stated to be a Roman Catholic. Roger is the other character Jacobs based upon himself, representing his more confident side.[12] Rump does not appear in the film or television versions. Putzie, a non-singing character, appears in Rump's stead (though ostensibly sharing the legal first name Roger), and his songs are included on the film's soundtrack, performed by Louis St. Louis.
  • Miller: The sixth member of the Burger Palace Boys, he appeared in the original 1971 production but was cut before the show opened on Broadway. He was named Kenickie in the original Chicago production. Though he did not appear in any subsequent productions, he appeared in The Original Grease.
  • Frenchy: A member of the Pink Ladies, Frenchy is the first person (other than Danny) to meet Sandy, and the two quickly become friends. She claims to have earned her nickname from being able to "French inhale" a cigarette. She is a very poor student with aspirations of becoming a beautician, but she is equally inept when she drops out to attend beauty school.
  • Marty: Given the surname "Maraschino" in the film, Marty is a seasoned member of the Pink Ladies, with much experience in wine, men and cigarettes, and is bigoted against the Japanese and Polish. In Act One, she is said to be engaged to an overseas Marine, mainly because of the expensive gifts she receives by maintaining the relationship. In Act Two, she has a brief fling with DJ Vince Fontaine, and by the end she succumbs to Sonny's advances.
  • Jan: A member of the Pink Ladies, Jan is a quirky Lutheran who has a voracious appetite and has moments of extreme bluntness. Jamie Donnelly, who played Jan in the film, described her as not being as cool as the other Pink Ladies.[55] She and Roger develop a relationship over the course of the musical, but the two frequently bicker.
  • Miss Lynch: A spinster English teacher and stereotypical disciplinarian. Her character role would be rewritten as Principal McGee for screen adaptions.
  • Eugene Florczyk: The class valedictorian is usually portrayed as an awkward nerd. He goes on to become a marketing executive after high school. Renamed Felsnick for the film.
  • Patricia "Patty" Simcox: A high-achieving cheerleader who befriends Sandy early in the play, Patty holds her own attractions to Danny and is especially drawn to him when he tries to change to please Sandy. Sandy turns against her at the end of the play. Other than Rizzo (who treats her with contempt), the greasers are amicable with her, while acknowledging their different social cliques. At the beginning of the play, it is noted that she has since gone on to marry a Mr. Honeywell and have a successful career.
  • Charlene "Cha-Cha" DiGregorio: a beastly girl who appears at the school dance as Kenickie's date, later ends up dancing with Danny, and is ultimately revealed as the girlfriend of a rival greaser gang member.
  • Vince Fontaine: the smooth-talking 19-year-old disc jockey and Rydell High alumnus whose voice-overs serve as continuity for the musical. He appears on-stage during the school dance and serves as an on-air host at WAXX, the local top-40 radio station.
  • Johnny Casino and the Gamblers: a low-rent rock and roll band that plays at the school dance.
  • Teen Angel: Frenchy's guardian angel who has blunt advice for his subject.

A number of characters in the musical are not seen: Freddy Strulka, Marty's boyfriend and a member of the United States Marine Corps who showers Marty with lavish gifts from Japan; the coach of the track team; the Flaming Dukes, an adversary of the Burger Palace Boys who never show up to a threatened rumble; and Mr. Drucker, a perverted economics teacher who has made passes at the Pink Ladies. In the film, the Flaming Dukes are renamed the Scorpions and have an on-screen role, as does the track coach (who is surnamed Calhoun and is portrayed by Sid Caesar).

Notable cast members edit

Role Chicago Broadway West End West End Revival Broadway Revival West End Revival
1971 1972 1973 1993 1994 2007 2007 2022 2023
Danny Doug Stevenson Barry Bostwick Richard Gere Craig McLachlan Ricky Paull Goldin Max Crumm Danny Bayne Dan Partridge
Sandy Leslie Goto Carole Demas Stacey Gregg Debbie Gibson Susan Wood Laura Osnes Susan McFadden Olivia Moore
Rizzo Susan Williams Adrienne Barbeau Jacquie-Ann Carr Sally Ann Triplett Rosie O'Donnell Jenny Powers Jayde Westaby Jocasta Almgill
Kenickie Bruce Hickey Timothy Meyers Peter Armitage Shane Richie Jason Opsahl Matthew Saldivar Sean Mulligan Paul French Solomon Davy
Doody James Canning Derek James John Combe Sam Harris Ryan Patrick Binder Lee Martin Jake Reynolds
Sonny Gerald Bolnick Jim Borrelli Doug Fisher Richard Calkin Carlos Lopez José Restrepo Bennett Andrews Damon Gould George Michaelides
Roger Gary Houston Walter Bobbie Stephen Bent Drew Jaymson Hunter Foster Daniel Everidge Richard Hardwick Noah Harrison Callum Henderson
Frenchy Hedda Lubin Marya Small Felicity Harrison Jo Bingham Jessica Stone Kirsten Wyatt Alana Phillips Eloise Davies Olivia Foster-Browne
Marty Marilu Henner Katie Hanley Hilary Labow Charlotte Avery Megan Mullally Robyn Hurder Charlie Cameron Lizzy-Rose Esin-Kelly Ellie Kingdon
Jan Sheila Ray Ceaser Garn Stephens Colette Kelly Liz Ewing Heather Stokes Lindsay Mendez Laurie Scarth Mary Moore Katie Brace
Miss Lynch Judy Brubaker Dorothy Leon Ann Way Myra Sands Marcia Lewis Susan Blommaert Marie Daly Corinna Powlesland Rachel Stanley
Eugene Steve Munro Tom Harris Stephen Marsh Aidan Treays Paul Castree Jamison Scott Tim Newman Darnell Mathew-James Jayd’n Tyrone
Patty Polly Pen Ilene Kristen Claire Faulcon Bridge Tamzin Outhwaite Michelle Blakely Allison Fischer Siobhan Dillon Jessica Croll Chloe Saunders
Cha-Cha Barbara Munro Kathi Moss Olwen Hughes Heather Robbins Sandra Purpuro Natalie Hill Olivia Kate Ward Katie Lee Katie Ella Dunsden
Vince Fontaine Mike O'Connor Don Billett Roy Desmond Gary Martin Brian Bradley Jeb Brown Jason Capewell Peter Andre Peter Andre
Darren Bennett
Johnny Casino Bob Santelli Alan Paul Steve Alder Glenn Carter n/a n/a n/a Ronan James Burns Liam McHugh
Teen Angel Mac Hamilton Andrew Kennedy Billy Porter Stephen R. Buntrock Jason Capewell Peter Andre
Jason Donovan
Peter Andre
Jason Donovan
Louise Redknapp

Musical numbers edit

Original Chicago production edit

Original Broadway production edit

* The 1972 version is the standard version licensed to professionals and amateurs through Samuel French, Inc. in the US and Theatrical Rights Worldwide Ltd in the UK/IE/Europe

1993 West End revival edit

1994 Broadway revival edit

2007 Broadway revival edit

* The 2007 revival incorporates some changes from the popular film version. Some numbers were eliminated, and others were added to the score: "Grease" was written by Barry Gibb, "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "You're the One That I Want" are written by John Farrar, and "Sandy" is by Louis St. Louis and Scott Simon. These additional songs require a separate license from the Robert Stigwood Organisation.[56]

2022 West End Revival edit

Orchestration and chorus edit

Original edit

The original score calls for a piano, 2 saxophones, 2 guitars, bass guitar, and drums, while the original backup chorus calls for 8 singers: 4 males and 4 females.[57][58] This is the version licensed for performance by amateur groups. The piano and the first keyboard is usually played by the band's conductor. The two guitarists double on acoustic and electric.

1994 revival edit

The 1994 revival is scored for 2 keyboards, 2 guitars, bass guitar, drums, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, 2 trumpets, trombone, and 2 saxophones.[59] The 1994 revival chorus calls for 5 males and 5 females.

2007 revival edit

The 2007 revival is scored for 2 keyboards, 2 violins, viola, cello, 2 trumpets, trombone, 2 saxophones, 2 guitars, bass guitar, and drums and percussion.[60] The first keyboard is played by the conductor. The two guitarists double on acoustic and electric. One guitarist plays lead while the other plays rhythm. The first woodwind doubles on tenor and alto saxophone and flute while the second one doubles on tenor, alto and baritone saxophone, flute and soprano saxophone. The 12-piece backup chorus calls for 6 males and 6 females.

Awards and honors edit

Original Broadway production edit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1972 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Patricia Birch Won
Outstanding Costume Design Carrie Robbins Won
Theatre World Award Adrienne Barbeau Won
Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Barry Bostwick Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Timothy Meyers Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Adrienne Barbeau Nominated
Best Choreography Patricia Birch Nominated
Best Costume Design Carrie Robbins Nominated

1993 West End revival edit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1993 Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Nominated
Best Theater Choreography Arlene Philips Nominated

1994 Broadway revival edit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1994 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Sam Harris Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Jeff Calhoun Nominated
Theatre World Award Brooke Shields Won
Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Marcia Lewis Nominated
Best Choreography Jeff Calhoun Nominated

2007 Broadway revival edit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2007 Tony Award[61] Best Revival of a Musical Nominated

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Cat Gleason (2021). "Lincoln Avenue and the Off-Loop Scene: Urban Renewal and the Early Years of the Chicago Storefront Movement". In Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud; Megan E. Geigner; Stuart J. Hecht (eds.). Makeshift Chicago Stages: A Century of Theater and Performance. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 9780810143838.
  2. ^ Defiglio, Pam (February 19, 2009). "Debate plays on for Chicago guitarist's induction into Taft High School's Hall of Fame: Group wants late guitarist added to school hall of fame". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2009. Alumni honored in Taft's Hall of Fame include ... Jim Jacobs, who based his musical "Grease" on Taft High School Jupe.
  3. ^ a b c Woulfe, Molly. "'Grease' has deep, dark Chicago roots" NW Times, January 2, 2009, retrieved January 10, 2017
  4. ^ Miller, Scott (March 30, 2007). "Inside Grease". New Line Theatre. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
  5. ^ Newmark, Judith (August 1, 2014). "'Grease' gets the splashy Muny treatment | Theater reviews". Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Night Scene: Women wowing 'em in the spotlights' glow", Chicago Tribune, February 5, 1971, p. 2-2
  7. ^ Time, May 26, 2008, p. 51: this musical ranked as the sixth most frequently produced musical by United States high schools in 2007.
  8. ^ "Long Runs on Broadway". August 14, 2011. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009.
  9. ^ Rooney, David (January 25, 2016). "'Hamilton's' Thomas Kail Makes the Leap to TV for "Bold" Take on 'Grease: Live'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2016. What we're doing here is taking the spine of the film and then also having access to parts of the stage play.
  10. ^ "Chicago Tribune". Archived from the original on April 13, 2020. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Bring back our own, original R-rated 'Grease'". January 8, 2009. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e Cavendish, Dominic (May 7, 2022). Drugs, Knives, Knickers – the Grit Behind Greased Lightnin’. The Telegraph. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  13. ^ Guernsey, Otis L., ed. (1972). The Best plays of 1971–1972. New York: Dodd, Mead. p. 492. ISBN 0-396-06698-4.
  14. ^ "Grease's leading man". May 10, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  15. ^ Green, Stanley."'Grease', London, 1973" Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, Da Capo Press, 1980, ISBN 0-306-80113-2, p.160
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  17. ^ Grease 1973 Archived September 25, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
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  20. ^ "B'way Grease! Closes Jan. 25 After 1501 Performances". January 26, 1998. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
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  29. ^ " 'Grease' National Tour to Play Final Performance May 23", accessed May 28, 2010
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  31. ^ "Ace Young, Allison Fischer, Laura D'Andre, Jesse JP Johnson and Jamison Scott Join Grease Tour". November 29, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  32. ^ "Trivia & History for The Original Grease (Chicago Revival, 2011) | Ovrtur". Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  33. ^ "The Original Grease (Chicago Revival, 2011) | Ovrtur". Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  34. ^ "The Original Grease | Squabbalogic". Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  35. ^ Jones, Kenneth (April 23, 2011). "Restored and Raunchy, The Original Grease Begins Performances in Chicago, Where It All Began". Playbill. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  36. ^ "New Production of Grease to open at the Dominion Theatre in May 2022". Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  37. ^ "Grease Revival Sets West End Summer Return". Playbill. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  38. ^ "Vaselina 94". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
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  42. ^ "" Grease " triomphe chez Disney". Le Parisien (in French). December 18, 2005.
  43. ^ "Grease : de nouvelles informations sur l'équipe créative". Musical Avenue (in French). August 10, 2008. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  44. ^ "Grease à Mogador : une réussite débordante d'énergie et de bonne humeur". Le Figaro (in French). September 29, 2017.
  45. ^ Cameron Pegg (August 27, 2013). "Latest Grease little less slick". The Australian. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
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  47. ^ "Grease Musical Oz Tour".
  48. ^ "Grease to return to Australia from January 2024". May 5, 2023.
  49. ^ Sam (June 18, 2023). "New Principal Cast Announced for Grease the Musical's 2024 Australian Tour". The Otaku's Study.
  50. ^ Clifford, Terry (April 12, 1983). "Playwright a hit at Taft High: 'Grease'-er revisits scene of his teens 'Grease'-er visits scene of his teens". Chicago Tribune. p. d1.
  51. ^ Ryan, Maureen (February 2016). "TV Review: 'Grease Live!'". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  52. ^ "Fox Orders 'Grease Live' Broadcast for 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. April 28, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  53. ^ "SSKCA Drama Club presents Grease «". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  54. ^ a b "Grease:School Version". Samuel French UK. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  55. ^ Gliatto, Tom; and O'Neill Anne-Marie. "Grease Is the Word: Twenty Years Later, the Stars Are Still True to Their School" Archived September 30, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, People (magazine), April 13, 1998. Accessed September 13, 2011. "'I always felt Jan was the person most like the audience,' says Jamie Donnelly, 50, who dyed her prematurely gray hair to play the pigtailed Pink Lady. 'She wasn't as cool as the other ones.' The Teaneck, N.J., native now lives in La Canada, Calif., with her husband, screenwriter Stephen Foreman, son Sevi, 10, and daughter Madden Rose, 8."
  56. ^ The Broadway League. "Internet Broadway Database: Grease Production Credits". Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  57. ^ "Grease". Concord Theatricals. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
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  59. ^ League, The Broadway. "Grease – Broadway Musical – 1994 Revival | IBDB". Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  60. ^ "Grease – Broadway Musical – 2007 Revival". Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  61. ^ Internet Broadway Database listing, 'Grease', 2007 revival, retrieved January 26, 2010

References edit

  • Synopsis and other information
  • Winer, Linda. "Hopelessly Devoted to Grease", Newsday, January 7, 2007
  • Understudy, Vol. 1, September 2006; magazine of the Fulton Theatre, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • "The 1970s, Part I: Rock Musicals", John Kenrick,, accessed on 19 May 2017,
  • Miller, Scott. "inside Grease". In Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musicals. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2011.
  • Gruner, Oliver & Peter Krämer. Grease is the Word: Exploring a Cultural Phenomenon. London: Anthem Press, 2021.

External links edit

Preceded by Longest-running Broadway show
Succeeded by