It may be hard for some of us to believe (including me), but this past Valentine’s Day – Feb 14, 2022 – marked the 50th Anniversary of the New York opening of the musical GREASE (at the Eden Theater on 2nd Avenue). And next week June 7 marks the 50th Anniversary of its official move to Broadway.
My guests on this week's podcast are that show’s original producer, Ken Waissman, and original director, Tom Moore who along with Adrienne Barbeau (the original “Rizzo”) are the editors of a new book, entitled Grease – Tell Me More, Tell Me More – Stories From The Broadway Phenomenon That Started It All.
Ken Waisman is a Tony Award winning producer who made his Broadway debut as producer with And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little. In addition to Grease, he went on to produce Over Here! starring the Andrews Sisters, and the long running plays Agnes Of God, and Torch Song Trilogy.
Tom Moore is a leading theater, film and television director whose work on Broadway includes his debut with Grease, Over Here!, Moon Over Buffalo starring Carol Burnett, and Night Mother.
Their new book is made up of a the personal, behind-the-scenes memories of the show’s creative and production teams, as well as those of scores of cast members from Grease’s original cast, its five national tours, and its record breaking eight-year run on Broadway.
In this episode you will hear how Ken discovered the show in a ramshackle community theater production in Chicago, why Ken chose Tom to direct the show instead of Michael Bennett, how Tom almost turned the show down, and how together they discovered more future stars than probably any other musical in history including Adrianne Barbeau, Barry Bostwick, Jeff Conaway, Carole Demas, Greg Evigan, Peter Gallagher, Richard Gere, Marilu Henner, Judy Kaye, Rex Smith, Patrick Swayze, John Travolta, Treat Williams, and Adrian Zmed. As well as future Broadway directors Walter Bobbie, Scott Ellis, and Jerry Zaks.
Has any other show produced that many stars?
Even if Grease is not your favorite show, I feel certain that you will be fascinated by their stories of how the show came together, and, of course, the casting stories of John Travolta, Patrick Swayze and Richard Gere.
And no other Broadway musical (with the possible exception of The Sound Of Music) has loomed larger in American and World culture!