“Grease” is the word.
The movie of “Grease” will air on CBS on Sunday, June 7th in place of the Tony Awards. Ironies abound. “Grease” has never won a Tony Award.
The musical that opened on Broadway in 1972 is a very bad show. It was nominated for for seven Tony Awards. It didn’t win one, not even for Pat Birch’s choreography. When “Grease” returned as a revival it was nominated for three more Tonys, and lost again. By 2007, revived once more, one nomination, and lost.
“Grease” was basically unwatchable, although many people saw it in that original run, starting off Broadway, then moving to Broadway in 1972 through 1980. It was more or less the staged version of George Lucas’s “American Graffiti,” which was such a hit movie that it instigated a revival of 50s music in 1972.
Unlike most Broadway shows that “lock” forever, “Grease” didn’t come into its own until the 1978 movie. The Bee Gees wrote the title track, and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was added for Olivia Newton John. During the show’s last two years on Broadway, you wouldn’t have heard those songs from the film on stage. It wasn’t until the revivals that the movie version was transposed onto the stage version.
Wikipedia is full of other changes that occurred over the years. The “Grease” song, which is terrific, came about because Robert Stigwood produced “Saturday Night Fever,” a monster hit, and asked the Gibbs brothers to write a song for “Grease.” At the time, the Bee Gees were solid gold.
It’s kind of sad that CBS and Jack Sussman went with “Grease” instead of a sing-a-long of say, almost anything else. “My Fair Lady” would have been a good choice. A restored “Oklahoma.” John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John have their charms, and hold a place in some hearts, but they have nothing whatsoever to do with Broadway.
Maybe a Broadway special would be nice this winter when all the shows come back and the Great White Way lights up. That would be a great idea to reintroduce all the returning shows. I won’t hold my breath.