Musical of the Month, Grease! (1994 - 1998) was a neon-colored hyper fantasy version of the original. It was a crazy spectacle, and it was a lot of fun. While the show may now be remembered as the King of Stunt Casting (a well-earned nickname), it also launched several Broadway careers, with most of the original company finding their first principal role in this production.
The lead roles of Danny and Sandy were taken on by then-soap star Ricky Paull Goldin, and an unknown Susan Wood. Both were great in their parts, and I always assumed that they'd go on to long Broadway careers. Not so. Neither has appeared on a Broadway stage since. That said, the main cast contains so many people that we think of as stars of the stage and screen today.
Ricky Paull Goldin Susan Wood
Marcia Lewis Rosie O'Donnell Hunter Foster
Jason Opsahl Megan Mullally Billy Porter
Stage-wise, the late, great Marcia Lewis as Ms. Lynch, earning the show's only acting Tony-nod, was the only one with a sizable Broadway resume. And the biggest "name" was Rosie O'Donnell as Rizzo, know at that time for being a stand-up comedienne and talk show host who favored publicizing Broadway shows. The rest of the cast included such now-stars as Megan Mullally (Marty), Hunter Foster (Roger), the late Jason Opsahl (Kenickie), Sam Harris (Doody), Jessica Stone (Frenchy), and futureTony-winner Billy Porter (Teen Angel).
Later in the run, several other "stage" folks joined the cast, including future Tony-winners Sutton Foster (Sandy) and Marissa Jaret Winokur (Jan), as well as Sherie Rene Scott (Marty), Susan Moniz (Sandy/Rizzo), Sean McDermott (Danny), Brad Kane (Doody/Sonny), David Josefsberg (Roger), Leah Hocking (Marty), and the legendary Jo Anne Worley and Marilyn Cooper, both as Ms. Lynch.
Jon Secada Brooke Shields Maureen McCormick
Mackenzie Phillips Adrian Zmed
Sally Struthers Sutton Foster
Lucy Lawless Joe Piscopo Linda Blair
But, as I said, the show was famous for its cavalcade of stars, most of which were worthy of their casting. Brooke Shields (Rizzo) was so successful, her songs were recorded and the cast recording was re-released with her on it. These celebrities came from all walks of entertainment life - even an athlete, Olympic medalist Dominque Dawes (Patty Simcox). Music legends include Mary Bond Davis, Jennifer Holliday and Darlene Love (all Teen Angels), Chubby Checker, "Cousin" Brucie Morrow, Al Jereau, and Micky Dolenz (all Vince Fontaines), Jon Secada (Danny), and Rizzos Jody Watley, Sheena Easton, Debbie Gibson, and Debby Boone. TV/movie stars who appeared include: Linda Blair, Joely Fisher, Jasmine Guy, Lucy Lawless, Mackenzie Pillips, Maureen McCormick, and Tracy Nelson (all Rizzos), Sally Struthers (Ms. Lynch), Joe Piscopo (Vince Fontaine), Adrian Zmed (Danny), and two movie cast members, Jeff Conaway (Vince Fontaine) and Dody Goodman (Ms. Lynch). Pretty amazing, right?
Next week, we'll talk about the 2007 revival.