GREASE RETURNS TO ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ most popular show returns for the first time in a decade
GREASE, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) most popular show, returns to the Main Stage for the first time in a decade. The original Rock ‘n’ Roll musical, GREASE, opens to a week of preview performances from March 3rd through 9th with opening night festivities on Friday, March 10.
A popular favorite, GREASE is also one of CDT’s most requested productions. When it played late in 2006, just over ten years ago, it was a near sell-out run with audiences filling in at 97% capacity. Resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi has a particular fondness for GREASE as he was cast in the 1977 National Tour in the memorable role of “Kenickie.” Brindisi and his production team will stage the show as it was originally done on Broadway with additional music made popular from the 1978 film, which was included in the more recent Broadway revivals*. There will be a greater emphasis on the characters and the simplicity of the era. Brindisi stated, “It’s an affectionate satire of high school life in the fifties. The focus is on a particular group of kids, the wild ones, the ones that got into trouble and primarily had a good time while they were at it.”
GREASE is a super-nostalgic evening chock full of sideburns, jukebox jingles and bobby socks in a day when Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes and putting grease on your hair were among the most important things in life to a teenager. The most popular musical in Rock ‘n’ Roll history is packed with energy, vibrant 1950’s pop culture and unforgettable tunes, including: “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “Beauty School Dropout,” “Grease Is The Word,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” “We Go Together,” “You’re The One That I Want” and many more.
GREASE had its Broadway debut in 1972 and has since triumphed around the globe on acclaimed theatre stages and in countless school productions. At the time that it closed in 1980, GREASE’s 3,388-performance run was the longest in Broadway history (surpassed by A Chorus Line a few years later, and enjoyed two popular Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007* (see interesting footnote at end). The 1978 hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John proved to be the highest-grossing movie musical ever.
How it started…
The co-creators, Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, were friends for seven years before they collaborated on GREASE and it all started at a party over a pitcher of beer when the idea first bubbled up. Reacting against the “traditional, ‘legit’ show-tune type melodies of the Great White Way” (Jacobs), Jacobs and Casey amused themselves imagining this new kind of musical on Broadway with music from the late 1950s and characters from the golden days of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Perhaps through fate (Casey lost his job soon after and, having time on his hands, began to write a rough sketch), Casey and Jacobs created a story with music and lyrics, which challenged the existing concept of musicals while establishing itself as a new kind of ‘classic.’ It was in an experimental theatre in Chicago on February 5, 1971 that they finally tried their idea out on the public with a title evoking the style of the 1950s – slicked back hair and fatty fast food – GREASE!
Despite a slightly shaky beginning, an all-amateur cast in a former tram shed with newspapers for seats, audiences continued to return with friends and relatives until GREASE proved more profitable than anything the theatre had ever produced. With discouragement from friends, and encouragement from Broadway producers, Casey and Jacobs recognized that to maximize the show’s potential they would have to give up their day jobs and move to New York. One year after the first production, GREASE opened at the Eden Theatre, just Off-Broadway. After receiving seven Tony nominations – they moved to Broadway proper and never looked back. Everywhere it opened, GREASE struck a universal chord with its irresistible mix of adolescent angst, vibrant physicality and 1950’s pop culture. They had created a perfect period piece that was called “fast, furious and thrilling, an injection of raw energy… and fun, fun, fun!” (Daily Mirror). GREASE has maintained its everlasting popularity proving that teen angst and love’s young dream remains timeless and universal.
The exuberant and colorful, GREASE teens are comprised of groovy Burger Palace Boys and sassy Pink Ladies: Aleks Knezevich (Danny Zuko), Caroline Innerbichler (Sandy Dumbrowski), Evan Tyler Wilson (Roger), Ruthanne Heyward (Betty Rizzo), Therese Walth (Jan), Ben Bakken (Kenickie), Renee Guittar (Patty Simcox), Jessica Fredrickson (Marty), Alan Bach (Sonny), Maureen Sherman Mendez (Cha Cha), Shinah Brashears (Frenchie), Kasano Mwanza (Teen Angel), Derek Prestly (Eugene), Andrew Hey (Doody) (swings: Mark King, Serena Brook, Jordan Oxborough). And, a few responsible adults: Michelle Barber (Miss Lynch), Tony Vierling (Johnny Casino), and Keith Rice (Vince Fontaine).
GREASE is directed by Chanhassen’s Resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi and choreographed by Tamara Kangas Erickson. The rest of the creative team includes: Richard Long (Music Director), Nayna Ramey (Scenic Designer), Rich Hamson (Costume Designer), Sue Ellen Berger (Lighting Designer), Russ Haynes (Sound Designer), Paul Bigot (Hair/Makeup Designer) and Dan Foss (Production Stage Manager).
GREASE will be performed eight times weekly through October 2017, with evening performances Tuesdays through Saturday evenings at 8pm; matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1pm, and Sundays at 6:30pm. Dinner and show ticket prices: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday evenings $75; Friday and Saturday evenings $89; Sundays $80; Wednesday matinees $65; Saturday matinees $68. For reservations and information, call Chanhassen Dinner Theatres box office at 952-934-1525 or visit ChanhassenDT.com (Dinner times are 2 hours prior to curtain times printed above. Show only tickets may be available no sooner than 10 days prior to the performance date, based on availability. Show-only ticket prices are $15 less than the prices printed above.)
*2007 GREASE Broadway Revival - an interesting tidbit to tout!
Michael Brindisi cast Laura Osnes as Sandy Dumbrowski in CDT’s 2006 production of GREASE. Close to the end of its run, Brindisi let Osnes out of her contract to participate in a new NBC Television reality competition entitled: “Grease! You’re The One That I Want!” In the program, contestants performed each week and were eliminated one by one. The last “Danny” and “Sandy” remaining were awarded leading roles in the 2007 Broadway revival of GREASE. CDT’s Laura Osnes won that amazing opportunity. Osnes, of Eagan, Minnesota, performed from a young age on a number of Twin Cities’ stages, including Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Since her star turn in GREASE on Broadway in ’07, Osnes has appeared on Broadway in several leading roles including:
Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (at Lincoln Center), Hope Harcourt in the revival of Anything Goes and Cinderella in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. She is currently starring in Bandstand The New American Musical opening March 31, 2017. Laura has received multiple prestigious awards and nominations for her work including a Drama Desk Award (winner) and two Tony Award (nominations) for Best Actress in a Musical. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres proudly claims Laura as one of its own!
ABOUT CHANHASSEN DINNER THEATRES
Celebrating 48 years, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre company. It is also Minnesota’s only year-round, fully-professional producing musical theatre company. With scenic and costume shops on site, all design elements are created and executed by CDT’s resident artistic design and technical staff. The artistic program is led by President and Artistic Director, Michael Brindisi. Brindisi works with co-owners Tamara Kangas-Erickson (VP and Choreographer) and Steven L. Peters, to manage CDT. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is committed to delighting its audiences and creating lifelong memories with a high-quality end-to-end entertainment, dining, and service experience. To learn more, visit ChanhassenDT.com