Warren Casey was an American composer, lyricist, librettist, and actor. He was born on April 20, 1935, in Yonkers, New York. He attended Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts and earned his bachelor in fine arts in 1957. After graduating from Syracuse, Casey spent a few years working as an art teacher in upstate New York before moving to Chicago in 1962 to pursue an acting career. In Chicago, Casey worked as a lingerie buyer for a chain of apparel stores, a record salesman, and an advertisement copier and performed on the side. He was a member of the Chicago Stage Guild, where he met Jim Jacobs, and the two began to collaborate on a show about greaser culture in 1950s Chicago, which ultimately became Grease. Two New York producers saw the original production, and they told Casey and Jacobs that if they made it a musical, gave it a story with wider appeal, and made the characters more likeable that they would produce it off-Broadway. Casey and Jacobs delivered, and Grease, which opened on Broadway in 1972, was nominated for seven Tony Awards and became a huge success, resulting in a feature film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and several Broadway revivals.
Casey continued acting and writing, and in 1974, he originated the role of Bernie Litko in David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago at Chicago’s Organic Theater Company. That year, he also fronted $1,000 to help found the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, for which he served on the original artistic board. Casey was homosexual. He died of complications from AIDS at age 53 on November 8, 1988, having lived in Chicago at the time of his death.
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