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Archive for September 27th, 2011

by John Greco

It began with an idea from Jim Jacobs who thought it would be cool to do a show with 1950’s rock and roll music. He mentioned it to his friend, and fellow amateur theater associate, Warren Casey. Both men had nine to five jobs, but Casey would soon lose his job, and to pass the time he began to write what would turn out to be the pajama party scene in the finished musical. The two men got together and worked on the book and some music, and then just like in the movies, they managed to put on a show. The venue was in Chicago, a small theater called Kingston Mines. It was a low budget production with cheap painted backdrops; the cast included an unknown Marilu Henner as Marty. The show itself was still evolving, a few of the songs were there from the beginning (Beauty School Dropout, Grease Lightnin’), others would be added later. Two New York producers saw the show and thought with a few changes, but keeping its rough edges intact, the show would make for an interesting Off-Broadway production.

In New York, songs were added but the show’s unpolished primitiveness was purposely preserved. “Grease,” like “Hair,” its rock musical predecessor, was not going to be a slick showy production. It’s values and look would be closer to Off-Off Broadway and the experimental theater of the 1960’s than with the traditional Broadway musicals it would eventually play alongside of like, “No, No Nanette” and “Sugar.” (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1939 102m) DVD1/2

Waiting for act Two

p  Jack Cummings  d  Norman Taurog  w  Leon Gordon, George Oppenheimer  story  Jack MacGowran, Dore Schary  ph  Oliver T.Marsh, Joseph Ruttenberg  ed  Blanche Sewell  md  Alfred Newman  m/ly  Cole Porter  art  Cedric Gibbons 

Fred Astaire (Johnny Brett), Eleanor Powell (Clare Bennett), George Murphy (King Shaw), Frank Morgan (Bob Casey), Ian Hunter (Bert C.Matthews), Florence Rice (Amy Blake), Ann Morriss (Pearl Delonge), Lynne Carver, Douglas McPhail,

Think if you will of Shakespeare in Love and the scene where Gwyneth Paltrow’s Viola de Lesseps, in the guise of Thomas Kent, is playing Romeo in the first production of ‘Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter’.  He’s aching for the love of his life, Rosalind, and Will steps in and reprimands her/him.  “You’re speaking about a baggage we never even meet…what will he do in Act Two, when he meets the love of his life?”  Stunned, Viola sheepishly says “I’m sorry, sir; I have not seen Act Two.”  “Of course you have not”, Will fires back, “I have not written it.”  There but for the Grace of Gods…

            Several hundred years later, or around sixty years earlier, depending on your point of view, George Murphy as King Shaw is auditioning to be the leading man of Broadway supernova Clare Bennett and is singing and dancing to ‘Between You and Me.”  It’s a lovely number, a thoroughly expert duet that would be enough to make one think we’d witnessed something very special.  And yet this is just Rosalind, and though we may see her, she’s keeping the polished floor warm for the real magic to arrive. (more…)

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