Grease!





The ninth medley in the concert is entitled Grease!. It includes five songs from the popular musical of 1971. This arrangement was written by John Moss (see below) in 1997.





The musical Grease has music, lyrics, and a book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Named after the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as “greasers” and set in 1959 at the fictional Rydell High School in Northwest Chicago (based on Taft High School in Chicago, Illinois), the musical follows ten working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of peer pressure, politics, personal core values, and love.





The score borrows heavily from the sounds of early rock and roll. In its original production in Chicago, Grease was a raunchy, raw, aggressive, vulgar show. Subsequent productions toned down the more risqué content. The show mentions social issues such as teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, and gang violence; its themes include love, friendship, teenage rebellion, and sexual exploration during adolescence. Jacobs described the show's basic plot as a subversion of common tropes of 1950s cinema, since the female lead, who in many 1950s films transformed the alpha male into a more sensitive and sympathetic character, is instead drawn by the man's influence and transforms into his wild, roguish culture.





Since it was first performed on February 5, 1971, at Kingston Mines nightclub in Chicago, Grease has been successful on both stage and screen, but the content has been diluted and its teenage characters have become less Chicago habitués (the characters' Polish-American backgrounds in particular are ignored with last names often changed, although two Italian-American characters are left identifiably ethnic) and more generic.


The first Broadway production opened on June 7, 1972; when it closed in 1980, Grease's 3,388-performance run was the longest yet in Broadway history, although it was surpassed by A Chorus Line on September 29, 1983. It went on to become a West End hit, a successful feature film, two popular Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007, and a staple of regional theatre, summer stock, community theater, and high school and middle school drama groups. It remains Broadway's 17th longest-running show. In 1972, it was nominated for Tony awards in seven categories, but didn’t win any.





Grease was adapted in 1978 as a feature film, which starred John Travolta (who himself had been in stage productions in a different role) and British-Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, removed the musical's Chicago urban setting, and changed some plot elements, characters, and songs while adding new songs and elaborating on some plot elements only alluded to in the musical. Some of these revisions have been incorporated into revivals of the musical. A 2016 live TV musical used elements from both the original stage version and the film.





The first song in our medley, “We Go Together”, occurs near the end of Act One, when The Burger Palace Boys are pairing up with The Pink Ladies in preparation

for a sock hop.





The second song in our medley, “Summer Nights”, occurs early in Act One. Sandy Dumbrowski, who has been unjustly rejected from a Catholic school because she had a brief love affair the summer before, which ended with unresolved love.





Meanwhile, womanizing greaser Danny Zuko is telling the Burger Palace Boys (Kenickie, Roger, Doody and Sonny) the story of his own summer fling. Of course, they are singing separately about each other.





“Born to Hand Jive”, the third song in the medley, occurs early in the second act, at the sock hop. A radio disc jockey begins the hand jive dance contest, and everyone eagerly participates as he tags the contestants out.





The fourth song in the medley, “Beauty School Dropout”, happens a little later in Act Two. Frenchy, one of the Pink Ladies, frest about what to do with her life, having dropped out of beauty school in frustration after failing all of her classes. The heavenly Teen Angel appears with a chorus of back-up singing angels and tells her to return to high school.





The final song in our medley, “Greased Lightnin”, occurs about halfway through Act One. The Burger Palace Boys are busy stealing hubcaps, unaware that the hubcaps are on one of their member’s car, which he calls “Greased Lightnin”. Unfazed by the others’ skepticism, he sings of the upgrades needed to make the car a racing-worthy “chick magnet”.





Arranger John Moss (1948-2010) was active nationwide as a composer, arranger, and orchestrator in a wide variety of musical styles and formats. As a composer, he had an extensive background creating original music for documentary, educational, and promotional films. As an arranger, he provided music for many live large-scale musical revues and production shows. John created the arrangements for Speak Low, a CD featuring Las Vegas trombonist John Haig with a 46-piece studio orchestra.


John's educational background included undergraduate study in instrumental music at Central Michigan University and graduate work in theory and composition at Michigan State University. He taught at both public school (band and choir) and university (theory) levels in Michigan. John's music is a major contribution to the band and orchestra catalog of educational music publisher Hal Leonard Corporation and he has several hundred published works to his credit.


He also served as arranger for the Disney educational project “Magic Music Days”, where young performing musicians are introduced to the film scoring/recording process. He accepted numerous school band and orchestra commissions, and enjoyed writing for the Detroit Symphony Pops, the Canadian Brass, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. In 2004, John and three fellow orchestrators transcribed approximately 90 minutes of orchestral music by film composer John Williams for a Kennedy Center concert featuring the United States Marine Band, with Mr. Williams conducting.


The music for Grease! was provided for the band by Barbara Murray.