It was only on Oct. 19 that Linda Blair, best known as the little girl possessed by satanic spirits in William Friedkin's 1973 film, The Exorcist, took over for Lucy Lawless as Rizzo in Broadway's Grease! revival. She was originally expected to spend three months in the show, but she'll only be Rizzo through Thanksgiving. After that, Angela Pupello, a Rizzo veteran, will return to the role.
In other Grease! casting news, while Sean McDermott is on vacation (Dec. 7-14), Joe Barbara, of TV's "Another World," will play Danny.
Surprisingly, those are the only stars currently connected to the show, which has become known for using television actors and stars from sports and the music field to fill various roles: Brooke Shields, Joe Piscopo, Chubby Checker and Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow.
Still in the cast are Brian Bradley (Vince), Marilyn Cooper (Miss Lynch), Melissa Dye (Sandy), and Andre Garner (Teen Angel). Cooper won a Tony for her work in Woman Of The Year; McDermott starred as Chris in Miss Saigon. Hunter Foster and e Cody, who play Roger and Cha-Cha, recently returned from their real-life honeymoon.
Grease! reopened April 8 after a six-week hiatus with comic Joe Piscopo and Olympic gold medalist Dominque Dawes in featured roles. The show went through its first series of cast changes May 6, when Jeff Conaway, best known as Bobby the struggling actor on TV's "Taxi" and now a featured performer on "Babylon 5," took over as deejay Vince Fontaine, and Darlene Love, the 1960s songstress, took over for Lee Truesdale as Teen Angel. Grease! had been slated to close Feb. 23 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to make way for the Annie revival, but the unexpected closing of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind in Washington DC allowed Annie to switch to the larger Martin Beck, which in turn allowed Grease! to continue at the O'Neill.
Whether Grease! can hold out from the pressure of several new shows desperately seeking a Broadway venue for the spring, remains to be seen. As of the week ending Nov. 9, Grease! grossed $296,293 and played to 76.7 percent capacity.
For tickets, call (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz