As Feb. 23 approaches, it's becoming clear that the hit 1994 revival of Grease! will definitely close on that date and not transfer to another theatre, as the producers had hoped.
Production spokesperson Pete Sanders said Jan. 13 that the show is closing on that date, period.
So many people wanted to see Broadway's Grease! during the 1996 Thanksgiving holiday, producers Fran and Barry Weissler brought a second production of the show -- the national touring company -- into New York's City Center so there'd be enough Grease! for everybody. But, only three weeks later, Grease! announced that it was closing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Feb. 23.
At more than 1100 performances, the show is already one of the longest-running Broadway revivals ever.
Company manager Thia Calloway confirmed a story in the New York Times (Dec. 20) that the show is being forced to leave. "We're being kicked out, expelled, so they can bring Annie in," Calloway told Playbill On-Line. Calloway explained that Jujamcyn Theatres had invoked the "stop clause" in the show's contract, which she explained gives the producers the option to close a show if they give enough notice and "certain other factors are met." Those other factors often have to do with a show falling below a certain weekly box office take.
Calloway had said Grease! was looking for another location in New York, but acknowledge that would be difficult because of the myriad shows playing musical chairs with a finite number of theatres. Calloway compared it to the situation when Crazy For You closed at the Shubert Theatre when still turning a profit, to make room for Big.
Production spokesperson Pete Sanders told Playbill On-Line that all the theatres under consideration for a possible Grease! move are either booked or tentatively booked, but it would be the producers' ideal "to keep [the show] running through the summer."
Annie, touring in St. Paul through Jan. 5, will begin previews at the O'Neill March 13 and open March 27. Production spokesperson Peter Cromarty told Playbill On-Line the show now boasts a 23-foot, onstage Christmas tree. Designed by Kenneth Foy, said shrub boasts 5,000 lights and 2,700 ornaments.
In Grease! tour news, Peter Scolari, Adrian Zmed and Mimi Hines continue in their roles for the rest of the year, as Vince, Danny and Miss Lynch, respectively. Scolari is best known from TV's "Bosom Buddies" and "Newhart" shows, as well as his recent television appearance in Stop The World, I Want To Get Off. Scolari's other credits include the ABC movie, "Fire! Trapped On The 37th Floor" and the CBS sitcom, "Dweebs." A professional juggler, Scolari spent seven years with the prestigious Colonnades Theatre Lab in New York where he worked with Jeff Goldblum, Rhea Pearlman and Danny DeVito.
The tour has been doing 90 percent business, according to Director of Marketing and Publicity Anita Dloniak. The tour plays Richmond, VA, Jan. 14-19.
The current cast of Broadway's Grease! toplines Jasmine Guy, who will be followed by Tracy Nelson through the closing date; plus gymnast Dominique Dawes in the cheerleader role of Patty Simcox, and Dave Konig as deejay Vince. Marilyn Sokol (Shlemiel The First) currently plays the role of Miss Lynch.
Tracy Nelson may best be known for appearing as a nun opposite Tom Bosley on TV's "Father Dowling Mysteries." Jasmine Guy came to national prominence on the post-Cosby sitcom, "A Different World."
Like several other Broadway musicals (Sunset Boulevard, Cats) Grease is cutting prices in a special "Winter Sale." The Grease! revival will go down in theatre history for the variety of celebrities, some from theatre, many from other media, brought in to play various roles. Here's a list of some more prominent figures:
Cousin "Brucie" Morrow
Gymnast Dominique Dawes
-- By David Lefkowitz