Grease was inspired by playwright Jim Jacobs’ personal experience at William Taft High School in Chicago. The show originally premiered in 1971 at the Kingston Mines Theater in Chicago, and then moved to New York City. The original production was directed by Guy Barille and featured a much raunchier script, which was cleaned up in order to be more commercially palatable. The new production was directed by Tom Moore, and opened Off-Broadway in 1972 and then transferred to Broadway. The original Broadway production ran 3,388 performances – an eight-year run. There have been two subsequent Broadway productions, three London productions, and numerous productions at all professional and amateur levels world over.

In 1978, Grease became a very popular movie musical, starring John Travolta as Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy. Sandy’s last name was changed from Dumbrowski to Olsson for the movie, and was portrayed as an Australian to justify Newton-John’s Aussie accent. The film was an immediate box-office hit, and has continued to be extremely popular; as of 2017, it still holds the record as the number 1 highest-grossing movie musical in the United States.

Despite the fact that the original Broadway version is the one most broadly available for professional and amateur licensing, the popularity of the film has strongly influenced subsequent revivals of the musical on Broadway. In the film, Travolta sings a song at the Drive-In called “Sandy” which has often replaced “Alone at the Drive-In Movie.” The final duet between Sandy and Danny in the film, entitled “You’re the One That I Want” has replaced “I’m All Shook Up” in subsequent Broadway productions, as well. The film's title number as well as "Hopelessly Devoted to You" are also included in the the score. The Burger Palace Boys gang was also renamed the T-Birds for the movie, and this name has stuck for subsequent Broadway productions.

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