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  The Original Grease at American Theater Company

The Original Grease

American Theater Company
1909 W Byron Chicago

Chicago.1959. Before two movies and three Broadway productions, Summer Nights happened on Foster Beach and the rule-the-school T-Birds were a group of working class outsiders living on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Including never-before-heard music, lyrics and scenes, author Jim Jacobs teams up with Artistic Director PJ Paparelli to bring to life for the first time since 1971 the original R-Rated version of the world’s most famous movie musical.

Thru - Aug 21, 2011

Wednesdays: 8:00pm
Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 3:00pm & 7:00pm



Price: $10-$40

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 773-409-4125

Running Time: 2hrs, 40mins; one intermission

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  The Original Grease Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...The basic story is the same, although “Grease” has also been restored to a Chicago-style ensemble affair, in which Danny and Sandy are only slightly more prominent and everyone gets a moment in the sun. Aptly, the best performances in Paparelli's production are in the featured roles — most notably Jessica Diaz's unstinting Rizzo, Tyler Ravelson's cool Miller and Jessie Fisher's warmhearted Frenchy. The best scene of all is the fabulously adolescent “Mooning,” which features Sadieh Rifai and Rob Colletti as a pair of unremarkable kids who find each other."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Director PJ Paparelli has restored much of the text from early rehearsal and production drafts, as well as other versions of this endlessly popular Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical — a show that had its start at Chicago’s old Kingston Mines Theatre in 1971. But in the process he has transformed a fast-moving period piece that pays affectionate homage to the bittersweet coming-of-age of a group of blue-collar high school kids in the late 1950s into an overstuffed show that gets dragged down by a running time of two hours and 45 minutes. The material (and the audience) would be far better served were it all pared back to two tightly packed hours comprised mostly of the unquestionably terrific production numbers, both intimate and elaborate. After all, the story here is hardly rocket science, but it is big fun."
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Hedy Weiss


Daily Herald - Recommended

"... So will the “Original Grease” supersede its later versions? Probably not, but at least Chicagoans will get a chance to proudly reclaim “Grease” as a hometown show that affectionately celebrates Northwest Side teenagers (warts and all) circa 1959. Just remember to leave your kids at home."
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Scott Morgan


Examiner - Recommended

"...All that said, there are some wonderful performances in the 26-member Grease ensemble. Jessie Fisher’s Frenchy is a bubble-headed hoot, instilling a fairly dim bulb with a wistful innocence that’s charming and very funny. Sadieh Rifai’s Twinkie-loving Jan is also marvelous; her tentative romance with Rump (Rob Colletti) is one of the production’s most touching scenes. Diaz’ Rizzo is an appropriately sultry power-house. As for Adrian Aguilar’s Danny Zuko, he’s got the musical theater moves down in How Big I’m Gonna Be, but he lacks the menace – edginess if you will – that you’d expect from a proud, working class greaser."

Catey Sullivan


Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Fifty years after the fact, a little triplet-time and Duane Eddy guitar go a long way, however. Though ATC's Grease may not be as museum-grade "original" as the title proclaims, it nevertheless invokes a catalogue of nostalgic references—civil-defense drills, Lucky Strike cigarettes, Clearasil, Polk Brothers, LOTS of street names—sufficient to engulf oldsters in warm fuzzies, as well as a compendium of potty-mouth sass from grandma's day to amuse fans of the greasers' Jersey Shore descendants. Malcolm Ruhl's orchestral and vocal arrangements capture the sound of the pre-British Invasion era, but the songs that come off most authentically are the ones rooted in a cappella doo-wop harmonies, reflecting the DIY expressions of an age before Walkmen, earbuds and iPods."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...A talented, exuberant young ensemble, led by Adrian Aguilar’s Danny and Kelly Davis Wilson’s Sandy, portrays Rydell’s greasers and Pink Ladies; their vocals aren’t always Brylcreem smooth (part of the production’s overall raw, homemade appeal), but they acquit themselves well in a number of a cappella harmonies and in Jim Corti’s footloose choreography. The perfunctory framing device of a Rydell class reunion seems more extraneous than ever, though, a speed bump in Greased Lightning’s path."
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Kris Vire


ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...The original grease has enough moments and a few bouncy rock tunes to be deserving an audience. Those of us from that era may enjoy this show and the 20-30somethings will find it an interesting curiosity piece."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...“The original Grease” by Jim Jacobs and the late Warren Casey is closing out the 2010-2011 season for the American Theatre Company.  For this show the artistic director P. J. Paparelli has the perfect cast for the show with Jim Corti in charge of the choreography which he does so well with the musical direction of Roberta Duchak and an orchestra led by Malcolm Ruhl."

Richard Eisenhardt


Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"... Pararelli has assembled a dream team to support his amazing ensemble! Jim Corti choreographs fun-loving, old school dance sequences. Under the music direction of Roberta Duchak and orchestration/vocal arrangement of Malcolm Ruhl, the band and singing rock. In particular, the Burger Palace Boys (Ravelson, Adrian Aguilar, Tony Clarno, Bubba Weiler, Rob Coletti, Patrick De Nicola) croon with wondrous harmony. The sound contrast to their crude greaser attitudes is brilliant. How many auditions does it take to get a sublime cast? According to American Theatre Company, 850!"
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...New songs have been added and of course Sandy is NOT from anywhere out of the country, but from Joliet  which in the days before the highways, could have been another planet! Foster Beach is where she met Danny, who now has his own song ( a solo, that was recently added from some notes for the original) and “Foster Beach” is their song ( not “Summer Loving”). “Look At Me, I’M Sandra Dee” is still a song in the play, but of course very different and “We Go Together” is the finale in Act One wit “Grease” being the finale song. This production is a  true treat for anyone of my generation for sure and those who have loved “Grease” over the years will find this experience to be as if they were there for the original. While they think they know these characters from seeing them in the past, these Northwest siders are truly the real thing and make the movie version seem prudish and tame- Yes, there is “language” in this production- they speak and do what kids did and said during this amazing era, and what an era it was!"
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Aln Bresloff


Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...The Original Grease is what I’d like Grease to be all the time. These are characters that talk and act like real kids, with real problems that don’t always have easy answers. There are a few balance issues between the actors and the band that prevents the show from being perfect, but it is a must-see for all fans of the musical in all its iterations. At least for those that won’t mind the colorful language and provocative choreography, because those aren’t gear shifts the boys are grabbing at the end of “Greased Lightning.”"

Oliver Sava


  The Original Grease Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.


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