Leather jackets, cadillacs, an institute that never misses an opportunity to make its students sing and dance and, in the middle, a romance between a bad boy and an angelic girl. 2021 marks 50 years since the musical ‘Grease’ first made its debut on the Chicago stage. Half a century of gel, catchy songs and a very particular artistic universe, which still makes the chemistry between Danny and Sandy live more alive than ever.
Because before John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John conquered the world through the screen, Broadway audiences already knew this story about greasers and preppies. In fact, as a musical spectacle, ‘Grease’ has been fortunate to pass through stages around the world and to spend years on the billboard in some of the best-known theaters such as Broadway.
Generations and generations have grown up with songs like ‘Summer Nights’, ‘You’re the One that I Want’ or ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. In fact, the latter has been among the most used among TikTok audios in recent months. However, the long history of musicals like this one on stage always hides more than one surprising fact – one that not even the most staunch fans know. These are the eight curiosities about ‘Grease. El Musical’ that will make you long for a ticket to their next shows in Spain.
1. The name ‘Grease’ is quite a play on words
Back in the 1950s, working youth used to be called greasers. Like Danny and his henchmen, they used to dress in jeans, leather jackets and put large doses of gel, the setting gel that translates into English as ‘Grease’, in their hair. In fact, when the film was released in Spain, the first name it received was ‘Brillantina’. In any case, according to its creators, the title of the musical also refers to the fat of fast food (or fast food), which was also beginning to gain fame at the time.
2. The audience of the first production of the musical of ‘Grease’ sat on newspapers
Much has happened since that first version of ‘Grease’ that journalist Jim Jacobs and professor Warren Casey devised in 1971. They did it as a tribute to the youth of the 50s, but they did not expect that its premiere would be in a theater without seats, where the public had the habit of sitting on newspaper. However, that production with amateur actors soon managed to gain a foothold in the industry, especially as a result of the purchase of rights by Broadway producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox.
3. During its first year on Broadway, ‘Grease’ garnered seven Tony Award nominations.
Just a year after its premiere and its subsequent move to Broadway, ‘Grease’ not only won the favor of the public and the critics, but also brushed the podium of the theater industry with seven Tony Award nominations. From this moment on, the rise to stardom was unstoppable, with 7 years on the Royal Theater billboard and 3,388 performances at the Majestic Theater.
4. John Travolta was on the first ‘Grease’ tour (but not like Danny)
Although in the film version it seemed that the role of Danny was made for Travolta, the actor’s beginnings in this gummi and dance factory were not as the protagonist. At seventeen years old and during the tour of the musical through the United States and Canada, the actor from ‘Saturday Night Fever’ put himself in the shoes of Doody, the funny man of the group.
5. Endless exceptional actors (like Richard Gere) have been through the musical
During the first years, different stars such as Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze, Brooke Shields, Russell Crowe, Rosie O’Donell or Jon Sedaca, participated in various tours and remakes of the musical, contributing to its great success. In 1973, when the musical moved to London’s West End, at that time, an unknown Richard Gere participated in the play playing Danny Zuko, however, it never made its debut in New York.
6. His hits are the soundtrack of four generations
While it is true that songs like ‘Summer Nights’ or ‘You’re the one that I want’ reached number 1 on the English charts in 1978, their success has continued to be present in the musical imagination of many generations. In fact, this last song – with which Sandy surprises Danny dressed in black skinny jeans – is one of the best-selling singles of all time and today has more than 300,000 reproductions on Spotify.
7. NBC created a talent show to cast the revival cast of ‘Grease’ on Broadway
Under the name of ‘You’re the one that I want’, NBC aired in 2007 a program in which several musical actors and actresses faced each other to get a role in the revival of ‘Grease’. Among the jury was Jacobs himself, who has never disassociated himself from show business.
8. The new cut of ‘Grease. El Musical ‘, an emerging talent shuttle
The new montage of ‘Grease’ It is a tribute to the five decades that the musical has been on stage. A blockbuster that will begin its journey in Madrid, but that will continue to move through the most relevant cities for the world of musical theater. On this occasion, viewers will not only have the opportunity to enjoy one of the most acclaimed musical works of all time, but will also be able to discover multiple artistic talents, who today fill theaters, star in movies and appear in popular television series.
The cast’s trajectory includes series such as ‘Paraíso’, ‘Hernán’ and ‘Liumelia’, the Goya-nominated film ‘Explodes Exploits’ or musical titles such as ‘Sonrisas y Lágrimas’ and ‘Cabaret’. In fact, five of the actors who gave life to the protagonist in ‘Billy Elliot’ also appear in ‘Grease’. One more reason to keep Danny and Sandy’s universe of gum and motorcycles in mind, but also to see the musical again, now that it boasts half a century on stage.
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8 curiosities that you did not know about the mythical musical “Grease”