By Carol-Ann Rudy
With no stars and no theater advertised, Grease will open to previews on July 24 and debut August 16. The Brooks Atkinson Theatre appears to be the likely venue.
The stars? The American public gets to choose who will be the new Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko. This homage to teen life in the 50’s is being cast like no other Broadway production ever. Taking advantage of the phenomenon of reality shows, Grease is effectively being cast on television on NBC’s “You’re The One That I Want” produced by David Ian. In three days, since the show debuted on Jan. 7, well over $1.3 million in tickets have been sold. An estimated audience of 11.6 million viewers watched it according to the Nielsen ratings. The show continues through March 11 anchored by Billy Bush, co-anchor of “Access Hollywood,” and British TV star Denise Van Outen.
Tony-award winning choreographer (Pajama Game) Kathleen Marshall will direct and choreograph the upcoming production. Producers of this $10 million dollar revival are Paul Nicholas and David Ian, associates of Nederlander Presentations and Phoenix Productions.
Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s book, music and lyrics have had a long life since its premiere at the Kingston Mines Theater in 1971 and its off Broadway opening on February 14, 1972 at the Eden Theatre, followed by its successful launching on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on June 7, 1972.
Grease was nominated for seven Tony Awards in its initial run. It was followed by the movie version in 1978 produced by Robert Stigwood and Allan Carr, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and received five Golden Globe Award nominations. Neil A. Machlis produced another less successful film, Grease 2, in 1982 starring Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer.
An interesting side note: Rosie O’Donnell, whose name has been prominently featured on TV newscasts over the past couple of weeks in a brouhaha with Donald Trump, played the part of Betty Rizzo in 1994.
Reality casting has hit Broadway and the reality is it’s proving to be an effective way to sell tickets.