Tag Archives: Broadway

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 forallevents.com.

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.

Uploaded by bordertelegraph.com.

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: Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin came to the U.S. at the age of five, and turned out some of our most patriotic songs, including God Bless America. Uploaded by kera.org.

I’ve featured some outstanding American songwriters on this site, those who’ve penned both contemporary hits and classics from the great American songbook. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to Irving Berlin, because he may very well have written more songs that are part of our nation’s cultural fabric than anyone else.

Berlin was a legend before he reached 30. His first song, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” became a huge hit not just in the USA, but around the world. Although born in Russia, his family came to this country when he was just five. He said he wanted to “reach the heart of the average American,” something he undoubtedly accomplished.

The streets and restaurants of lower Manhattan provided Berlin his music laboratory. He sang on the corners for pennies, became a singing waiter in Chinatown (where he learned to play the piano after hours), and finally started writing songs of his own.

Uploaded by entertainment.sky.com.

During his lifetime he wrote sheet music, films, and Broadway plays – some 1,500 songs in all. Of his influence, the New York Times wrote, “Irving Berlin set the tone and the tempo for the tunes America played and sang and danced to for much of the 20th century.” Here’s a list of some of his most popular hits:

“A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” • “Always” • “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” • “Blue Skies” • “Cheek to Cheek” • “Doin’ What Comes Naturally” • “Easter Parade” • “God Bless America” • “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” • “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” • “Marie” • “Puttin’ on the Ritz” • “The Girl that I Marry” • “There’s No Business Like Show Business” • “What’ll I Do?” • “White Christmas”

Travel: Broadway

The TKTS booth, a source for discount show tickets. Uploaded to Flickr by billygiu.

The TKTS booth, a source for discount show tickets. Uploaded to Flickr by billygiu.

Give my regards to Broadway. The Great White Way. The Theater District. The Street of a Million Lights. Okay, I made that last one up. But anyone who’s been to New York and not been to a Broadway show hasn’t had the full Big Apple experience.

According to Robert Rusie’s Talkin’ Broadway, the Theater District stretches from W. 41st St. to W. 53rd St., and only four of the roughly 40 Broadway theaters are actually on Broadway itself.

Lower Broadway in 1925, uploaded by talkinbroadway.com.

Lower Broadway in 1925, uploaded by talkinbroadway.com.

Broadway (the street) has always been the main artery of New York. It went from an Indian trail to a Dutch settlers’ country road, and for a century was the only road that extended the length of the island. Look at a map of NYC today, and you can see that Broadway doesn’t follow the city streets’ grid pattern.

Broadway audiences have become much more casual in recent years, a trend I find somewhat disheartening. If there’s any occasion where dressing up would still be appropriate, it would be to attend a major show at a theater on Broadway. I’m sure the theater owners are glad to have fannies in seats, but those fannies in suits and dresses would be so much better than jeans.

Broadway plays aren’t cheap, but there are several options for getting discount tickets. Most of the options can be found here. For once, there were so many options for today’s video…I particularly enjoyed this one:

Okay, I had to see this one again, too: