Monday, November 16, 2009

Dark Monday - Grease

grease grease
Clockwise: 1972 logo, the 2007 logo; and the 1994 logo.

Grease originally opened on Broadway in 1972. The unknown show had come from Chicago to off-Broadway, and finally moved to Broadway in June of that year. The cast were relatively unknown, with Barry Bostwick making his debut as a leading man and ending up with a Tony nomination. And there was Adrienne Barbeau playing Rizzo, the 'bad girl with the heart of gold.' The show ran for over seven years, or record-setting 3,388 performances, the longest run in Broadway history at the time, only to be surpassed two years later by A Chorus Line. Throughout the run, cast replacements included Jeff Conaway, Marilu Henner, Peter Gallagher, Patrick Swayze, John Travolta, (director) Jerry Zaks, and Treat Williams. Richard Gere was an understudy for many roles in this production. It opened in London the following year, and unknown understudy Richard Gere was cast as leading man Danny Zuko.

In 1994, Grease was called back to Broadway, a revival starring Rosie O'Donnell as Rizzo, soap hunk Ricky Paul Goldin as Danny, Star Search winner Sam Harris as Doody, and pre-Karen Walker Megan Mullally as Marty. This cast was meant to sell tickets, and that is what they did. Once Rosie left, she was replaced with Brooke Shields. Four months after the show opened, a US tour was in place, with former Monkey Davy Jones playing Vince Fontain, Brooke Shields as Rizzo [before she went to Broadway], Sally Struthers, Rex Smith, Mickey Dolenz, Adrian Zmed, Debbie Gibson, Lucy Lawless, Mackenzie Phillips and Jasmine Guy in the cast at various times.

In 2007, producers launched a reality television show to cast the next revival, the show called You're The One That I Want! The show eventually cast Max Crumm and Laura Osnes and the show opened with a construct closer to the 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John than the previous Broadway productions, utilizing songs from the movie and story lines as well. Soon it was time for cast replacements to be made, and the casting of former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel, and former Idol finalist [and yesterday's birthday boy] Ace Young as Kenickie. Also, once the YTOTIW winners moved on, other contestants were brought in to play the leads.

The revival closed in January of 2009. The tour continues, with Taylor Hicks headlining for some time to come. As part of the 'finale,' Hicks sings several of his songs from his most recent album and hawks them in the lobby afterwards.I guess that is what happens when you are released from your label contract and have to fend for yourself. You can find more information about the tour here.


  1. Taylor is driving all the publicity for Grease these days across the country and by all accounts, brings audiences to their feet each and every night! He's a fantastic singer and great in his role as Teen Angel. It's fantastic he sings a song from his latest album, The Distance (released on his own label Modern Whomp Records) called Seven Mile Breakdown after each show. He does a Meet and Great every night and is met with huge crowds.

  2. Grease is great and so is Hicks voice and extra song. They are playing to a full house just about every performance and Hicks is a big part of that. Mr. Hicks not only sells his own merchandise but is making sure the Grease merchandise sells well also. He is a very welcome addition to the show.

  3. Anonymous 1 & 2, Call me old fashioned, but it seems to me allowing Hicks to perform his own music removes some of the character of the show. At no point in time was I meaning to imply he was untalented, just taking the spirit of a 50s sock-hop experience into a different thing. I doubt the original intent of the writers was to make the evening about Teen Angel.

  4. Howard, maybe the original intent of the writers was not to make the evening about Teen Angel, however, when Taylor was on Broadway with Grease, before the tour started, from all accounts, Taylor's participation in Grease was worth an additional $150,000 in ticket sales per week. Hence, they knew a good thing when they saw it and are now using him to promote Grease along the way in cities where the tour stops. Yes, Taylor is on his own -- his choice. He is a smart businessman and brilliant musician and entertainer. And I imagine he is smiling all the way to the bank.

  5. Are you aware that Frankie Avalon once toured with Grease and sang a mini concert following the show? Taylor just sings one song to the delight of the audience. I'm sure many would love to hear him sing more.

  6. What's wrong with a little lagniappe after the show. It's a win-win for Taylor and his fans. I didn't hear any booing from the audience nor did I see everyone stand up and walk out.

    Howard, why is it, your only comment about Taylor was, "Hicks sings.....and the lobby.....I guess that is what happens when you are released from your label contract and have to fend for yourself" the two statements are related. Most artists sell their merchandise after shows because people want to buy it. Your comment was a jab at a super nice guy who doesn't deserve it.



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