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GREASE to Begin Shows at Walnut Street Theatre, 5/14

Walnut Street Theatre concludes its landmark 204th season with an all-new production of Broadway and Hollywood's smash-hit, GREASE. Directed by Bruce Lumpkin, with choreography by Michelle Gaudette, this musical extravaganza begins previews on May 14th, opens on May 22nd and runs through July 14th on the WST Mainstage.

GREASE is taking over Philadelphia this summer! Get out your leather jackets, pull on your bobby socks and take a trip to a simpler time with the original high school musical. Danny is the hunky 'bad boy' and Sandy is 'the girl next door.' They meet and fall in love. But will their different worlds keep them apart? Hear all of the unforgettable songs from the Broadway show and hit movie, including "You're The One That I Want," "Grease Is The Word," "Summer Nights," "Hopelessly Devoted To You," and "Greased Lightnin'." Get ready to hand-jive the night away with the show that'll make you want to stand up and shout, "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop A-wop-bam-boom!"

Written by Jim Jacobs & WarRen Casey, the original Broadway production opened at the Eden Theatre on February 14, 1972 and received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. It held the title of longest running Broadway show to date when it closed in April, 1980. Two revivals followed in 1994 and 2007, both receiving Tony Award nominations for Best Revival of a Musical. In 1974, the show had its London premiere with Richard Gere as Danny. Revivals followed in 1993 (with Debbie Gibson as Sandy), and in 2007. GREASE became a popular musical film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in 1978. The film won the People's Choice Awards for Favorite Musical Motion Picture and Favorite Overall Motion Picture. The Walnut's production of GREASE is produced in association with Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida.

Directing GREASE is Walnut veteran Bruce Lumpkin. With its widespread popularity, many people have a fondness for GREASE and Lumpkin is no exception, remarking, "I certainly feel a special connection to the musical. Early in my career, the first job I landed after moving to New York City was on a tour of GREASE, and I am thrilled to be returning to this show with a fresh approach." Lumpkin has directed numerous Mainstage and Studio 3 productions, including the highly acclaimed productions of Miss Saigon and Fiddler on the Roof. Additional Walnut Mainstage productions include Man of La Mancha, West Side Story, Evita, Grand Hotel, State Fair, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel.

Joining Lumpkin is his partner, both in theatre and real life, Choreographer Michelle Gaudette. Gaudette has previously choreographed at the Walnut for productions including Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, State Fair, Man of La Mancha, Carousel and Evita Joining the pair is Music and Vocal Director Douglass G. Lutz. Walnut audiences have enjoyed his work many times in scores of productions including The Music Man, Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof and Oliver!.

New to the Walnut, Set Designer Cliff Simon's credits include the original Off-Broadway production of Fame. Joining him will be Broadway's Lighting Designer Richard Winkler (Jack: A Night on the Town with John Barrymore, Ian McKellen: A Knight Out at the Lyceum, Mayor), Costume Designer Lisa Zinni (Associate Designer for Broadways' Rent, Hair and A Christmas Story the Musical) and Sound Designer Craig Beyrooti, whose regional credits include Buddy, The Music Man and The Producers.

Rydell High's class of '59 is led by Matthew Ragas as Danny and Laura Giknis as Sandy, both making their Walnut debuts. The kids ruling the school include Michael Warrell (Kenickie), Richard Cerato (Doody), Matthew Rossoff (Sonny), Adolpho Blaire (Roger) and Lilly Tobin (Frenchy), also making their Walnut debuts. Rounding out the Pink Ladies, Kate Fahrner (An Ideal Husband, Miss Saigon, Born Yesterday) returns to the Walnut as Betty Rizzo, Rachel Camp (Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story) as Marty and Tara Tagliaferro (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) as Jan.

The Captain of the Philadelphia Eagles 2012 Cheerleaders, Tracey Dunn, will play Rydell cheerleader Patty Simcox in her Walnut debut. Eric Kunze (Miss Saigon) returns to the Walnut as Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel, Nate Golden (Alexander...) as Eugene and Mary Martello (The Music Man) as Miss. Lynch. Brad Greer and Elizabeth Racanelli make their Walnut debuts as Johnny Casino and Cha-Cha Digregorio, respectively. The ensemble includes Hallie Cercone, Owen Pelesh, Kerri Rose and Matthew Steffens.

GREASE runs at the Walnut May 14 through July 14. This production is sponsored by Satell Center. Media Sponsors are B101 and NBC 10. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.


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