Category Archives: THEATER

Theater: Grease

When it made its original run on Broadway, Grease ran for 3,388 performances - at that time, the most ever. Since then, it's had several revivals and national tours, not to mention countless community theater productions. Uploaded by

Hard to imagine now, but this show was created initially with very little music. And when it debuted in Chicago, it even had a different title: Greased Lightning. Some smart people saw the show and told the creators (Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey) that it could be a hit on Broadway with a little work. I guess they were right – the show opened in New York in 1972 and ran for a then-record 3,388 performances.

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When we think of Grease today, we’re influenced by the movie version. No wonder – the play has changed during its several revivals to include plot elements and songs (“Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “You’re the One that I Want,” “Sandy,” and “Grease”) from the film version. It’s had Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007, and national tours in 1994, 2003, 2008, and 2010-11. Not to mention productions at community theaters from coast to coast.

Quite a few stars have had parts on Broadway or on the national tours. Among them:

DANNY: Barry Bostwick, Treat Williams, Patrick Swayze, David Hasselhoff, Rex Smith, Jeff Conaway, Jon Secada, Richard Gere, and Ace Young.

SANDY: Andrea McArdle, Lea Salonga, and Debbie Gibson.

RIZZO: Adrienne Barbeau, Lucy Lawless, Rosie O’Donnell, Linda Blair, Debbie Boone, Sheena Easton, Jasmine Guy, Joely Fisher, Maureen McCormick, Mackenzie Phillips, Jody Watley, and Brooke Shields.

OTHERS: Tracey Ullman, Marilu Henner, Megan Mullally, Davy Jones, Chubby Checker, Jennifer Holliday, Al Jarreau, Taylor Hicks, Mickey Dolenz, Joe Piscopo, and Peter Scolari.

Music: Rodgers and Hammerstein

Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in South Pacific. Uploaded by

Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in South Pacific. Uploaded by

Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals are, well, as corny as Kansas in August. But is there anything better than some good old corn, every once in a while?

Richard Rodgers (music) worked with Lorenz Hart till Hart’s alcoholism disabled him. Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) wrote hits like Show Boat with Jerome Kern, but jumped at the opportunity to partner with Rodgers. How successful was the Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration?

Oh, modestly succesful I think you could say. 34 Tony Awards, 15 Oscars, two Grammys, and even two Pulitzer Prizes. Before R&H teamed up, Broadway musicals were star vehicles for performers such as Fred Astaire. Plot was incidental. Beginning with Oklahoma, Rodgers and Hammerstein used the songs to further the story. It was a formula that was successful for such blockbuster plays and films as Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.

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And what songs they wrote! From Oklahoma: “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and “Oklahoma!”…From Carousel: “If I Loved You,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” From South Pacific: “Bali Ha’i,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”¬† From The King and I: “Getting to Know You,” and “Hello Young Lovers.” And from The Sound of Music: “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Climb Every Mountain.”

Here’s a Web site you should know: Enter the name of one of the great R&H musicals, and you’ll find out if it’s going to be on your local cable system in the next two weeks.¬†Find a show and prepare to be wowed. A couple of hours spent on a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is never wasted. Here’s Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner singing “Shall We Dance” from The King and I: