A Writer's Journey


November 9, 2006

Fans of the classic musical “Grease” could find themselves in the role of a lifetime.

“Grease” enthusiasts will have an opportunity to be part of the casting process of the play’s lead roles through reality television. NBC is working with BBC Worldwide Productions to find the next Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski for the new revival of “Grease.” The reality show titled “You’re the One that I Want” will begin airing in January 2007.

Theatre professor Donald Anderson, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York, says that the show is a sign of the times.

“It’s trendy,” he said. “It plays into our modern tendencies.”

David Ian is producing the revival. He will serve as one of the three judges on “You’re the One…” with director Kathleen Marshall and co-creator Jim Jacobs. He discussed the show with Playbill.

“There will be, shall we say ‘Grease-related’ guests…people that are connected to the show will be guest stars,” he said.

Llyod Webber is also scheduled to appear on the program to help Ian, who both co-produced “The Sound of Music.”

“Grease” originally opened on Broadway in 1972 and closed in 1980. Barry Bostwick and Carole Demas originated the roles of Danny and Sandy. The musical tells a love story set in the 1950s between “good girl” Sandy and “bad boy” Danny, a greaser. A revival was staged in 1994 and featured future TV talk show host Rosie O’Donnell and “Will and Grace” star Megan Mullally. The show attracted other well-known stars such as Brooke Shields before closing in 1998.

Actors Equity Association, the actors’ and stage managers’ labor union, is monitoring the auditions. Equity has also held separate auditions for the show but allowed members to attend the open calls held by casting producers. Auditions were held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles during October and November of 2006.

Anderson said that a similar process had been done in London. Andrew Llyod Webber, composer of “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” produced a revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music.” The role of Maria was cast through the show “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” Connie Fisher won the contest and was well reviewed when the show opened.

The movie version of “Grease” is renowned, as are the performances of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Ian said that the revival will feature four songs that were written specifically for the movie. These include the Academy Award nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One that I Want.”

NBC announced that “Access Hollywood” correspondent Billy Bush will host the show with British actress Denise Van Outen. Van Outen has played Roxie Hart in both the West End and Broadway productions of “Chicago.”

Professor Anderson is concerned about the show since the audition process is already daunting without a television show capturing it.

“We place too much emphasis on disappointing people,” he said.

The revival of “Grease” is scheduled to open in June 2007. Equity and the producers have already auditioned for the other roles in the show. Tickets will go on sale Dec. 1 as America prepares to decide who “is the one that they want.”




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