Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff

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No School Saturday: Grease ... the New 50's Musical Comedy!

Posted on May 16, 2020 at 9:15 PM

Good Evening Ginchers,

No School Satruday ... GREASE is the Word ... the New 50's Musical Comedy!  When most of the younger people that I know think about Grease, they think about the Movie Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John however, Grease the Broadway play happend years before the movie and John Travolta was not one of the stars. ... he was actually in the touring cast and played the part of Doody.  I saw the original touring cast that had some soon to be big TV stars.  Marilu Henner, from Taxi fame, played the role of Marty, Jeff Conaway from Taxi played Danny Zuko the part that Travolta later did in the movie, Michael Lembeck, from Room 222 and Love American Style and One Day at at a Time played Sonny and of coarse John Travolta as Doody who would go on to be the biggest star of them all.  It played at the Nixon Theater in Pittsburgh February of 1973.  For years the play was one of my all time favorites and image seeing it with future stars in the cast.  I'll admit that I was not a big fan of the movie but then again I rarely like any movie that started as a hit play.  As years went by, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to appear in seven different casts of the musical Grease.  The first was for a local theater group at Comtra theater and then for the Robert Morris College run and I made a guest appearance in the Moon High School run.  Right after that I had the pleasure of playing the role of Teen Angel for four more different runs of the play Grease at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh.  I watched the young and talented actors and actresses perform on stage with me and then watch their careers take off and many appeared on and off Broadway in New York.  At two of the runs at the Byham I worked with old friends, who also made cameo appearances in the play.  One year, John Burnett from KDKA, played Vince Fontaine the wild DJ and another year with Mike Frazer of 3WS, who also played the role of Vince Fontaine.  Mike didn't have to do much acting since was already a wild and crazy DJ in real life.  I played the role once again of Teen Angel.  My fondest memory of playing the role was at Robert Morris College where they lowered me onto the stage on a motorized swing as I sang Beauty School Dropout.  It worked great in rehearsals and Dress rehearsal but on opening night, half way down the motors burned out and I dropped three jerky times and then finally about 4 foot off the ground it just burned completely out.  The audience roared and thought it was part of the play, I on the other hand found absolutley no humor in it at all.  The next couple nights of the show they installed industrial type motors. After that performance I made sure that I walked down steps as Teen Angel, with the new weight, there are no industrial motors to support me!   To this day, I love watching Grease... it is a classic 50's Musical Comedy ... Grease is the Word!  Till tomorrow stay safe, stay healthy, help a neighbor when you can ... and, God Bless!

Johnny 


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