Grease is a popular musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. A very successful film version was made in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
The musical is based around some of the subcultures of 1950s High school America, including the "tough guy" working-class greasers from which the musical takes its name. The musical takes place at fictional Rydell High in Chicago, Illinois. Some of the social issues featured in the musical are teenage pregnancy and gang violence; its themes include love, friendship, rebellion and sexual exploration during adolescence, and, to some degree, class consciousness/class conflict.
The show originated in Chicago and made its premier at The Kingston Mines. The original production was over three hours long and had to be whittled down significantly in between its opening in Chicago and its premier on Broadway. When the show opened on Broadway in 1972, it was well received by the public despite less-than-favorable reviews from critics. Nevertheless, it was nominated for seven Tony Awards and the 1994 revival was nominated for three. In 2003, Grease was voted Best Musical of All-Time in a Channel 4 poll.
A darker, harder-edged portrayal of some of the same subcultures (though slightly later) can be found in S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders. Other dramatic portrayals include the classic James Dean movie, Rebel Without A Cause, and the 1957 musical West Side Story.
In November of 2002 Donna Mills revealed to Camille Paglia in an interview that the character of Sandy in Grease was based on her experiences as a Chicago-area teen.
With the sound of rock and roll music flowing into our ears, the most colorful members of the class of '59 enter in flashback. The "greasers," comprised of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies, are what everyone remembers about their senior year. As they sing Alma Mater Parody, it's easy to see why. Flashback to the first day of senior year, September, 1958. The high school cafeteria bustles with kids groaning about the annual return to lousy food ("You want my coleslaw?") and dreaded teachers ("I got Old Lady Lynch for English again. She hates my guts."). The Pink Ladies sit on one side of the lunchroom, and the Burger Palace Boys sit on the other. There's a new girl in town, Sandy Dumbrowski, who shares with the Pink Ladies - Jan, Marty, Frenchy, and Betty Rizzo--the details of her summer romance.
At the same time, Danny Zuko, leader of the Burger Palace Boys (Roger, Doody, Sonny, and Kenickie), brags about his love conquest (Summer Nights). Sandy and Danny bump into each other, and while Sandy is happy to find her summer love again, Danny blows her off under the guise of being too cool.
When lunch hour ends, rock star wannabe Doody gives an impromptu concert in the hall (Those Magic Changes), making it clear that grades and SAT scores aren't nearly as important as learning to play the guitar. Boys rank even more highly than songs on the Pink Ladies' charts, which is evident at Marty's pajama party, where the girls experiment with cheap wine, cigarettes and pierced ears, and Marty tells about her long-distance courtship with a Marine (Freddy, My Love).
Meanwhile, the Burger Palace Boys are busy drinking cheap beer and daydreaming about easy girls and cool cars (Greased Lightnin'). Sandy is still hurt by Danny's brush off, but when they get a minute alone together Danny tries to explain. Head cheerleader Patty Simcox interrupts to prompt Sandy to join the squad and to tease Danny about his latest indiscretions.
The kids take their newfangled portable radios for a rock and roll picnic in the park and plan how they'll pair off at the upcoming school dance, while Roger shares his love for Jan and his favorite hobby (Mooning). Sandy passes through with valedictorian-to-be (i.e. school nerd) Eugene; she seems to have given up on Danny since she's found out that he has been telling his friends that she's "easy," which is not what a nice girl who almost went to Immaculata likes to have said about her. Rizzo teases Danny for falling for a girl who resembles the excessively proper teenage ingenue, Sandra Dee (Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee). Sandy interrupts Rizzo's cruelty and realizes Danny is putting her off to be cool, wishing she had him again the way he use to be (Since I Don't Have You). Act I ends with couples finding dates or proclaiming their lack of a date as they sing about how they'll "always be together"(We Go Together).
When Act II begins, everyone is Shakin' at the High School Hop - everyone, that is, except Sandy. She's home asking the stars up above why she must be a teenager in love and otherwise feeling sorry for herself (It's Raining on Prom Night). Meanwhile, all the kids are getting their kicks at the hop. The favorite radio DJ of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies, Vince Fontaine, is the MC at the dance, which takes place in the gym. He's warming the kids up for a dance contest. Kenickie, who got a blind date after the fight that ended Act I, now dumps her and pairs off with his usual thrill, Rizzo. Danny enters the contest with Kenickie's cast-off, Cha-Cha DeGregorio, and they win (Born to Hand Jive).
A few days later at the Burger Palace after school, a couple of the guys run into Frenchy who flunked out of Rydell and is now studying cosmetology (Beauty School Dropout). Danny, who has taken up track in order to win back Sandy's affections, doesn't know that the guys have been challenged to a rumble by Cha-Cha's friends. He's more concerned about patching things up with Sandy at the Twi-Light Drive In, but he moves too fast for her and she leaves (All Alone at a Drive-In Movie).
The "greasers" are having a party, as Doody and Roger sing "Rock and Roll Party Queen." Rizzo is worried that she's pregnant, but she's so mad at Kenickie that she tells him he's not the father. The other kids are sympathetic, but Rizzo rejects their offers of help, especially Sandy's (There Are Worse Things I Could Do). Sandy wonders what she needs to do to fit in at Rydell (Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee Reprise).
The next time Sandy meets up with the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies, a transformation has taken place. Sandy is now a greaser's dream date, leaving Danny "All Choked Up." Rizzo is relieved to learn that she isn't pregnant, and she and Kenickie reunite. It's happily-ever-after time for all (We Go Together Reprise).
Famous actors who have appeared in Grease include: