Well, Grease is staged. I laid out the road in front of us and we're far enough down it now that turning back would just be silly, after the miles we've traveled together, and besides, my feet hurt a little.
I think I sense some metaphor trouble...
We're finally to that point where the big choices are all made and now we find out if they were good ones or if blocking a show at 3:00 a.m. when you're stoned out of your mind is not as smart as it seems when it's 3:00 a.m. and you're stoned out of your mind. I'll just say this and no more -- only block with quality herb, never with ditch weed. That shit'll have your actors doing jazz squares and kick lines and mugging like Bill Shatner on a Priceline commercial. Never ask the audience for a laugh!
I feel kinda like when we did Hair the first time. No, I take that back, I was abso-fuckin'-lutely clueless when I blocked that one. (Though I totally figured it out later. Don't tell anyone.) No, I guess it's more like when we did Jesus Christ Superstar. I spent a great deal of effort learning everything I could about the writers' original intentions, and then found contemporary equivalents to those original impulses. Of course, the end result of my efforts was shooting Jesus in the head at the end of the show every night, which not everyone appreciated. You had to see it in context! Shut up or you're next!
So this time, I've learned everything I could about the authors' original intentions for Grease, and I'm doing my best to work from those intentions and present this show the way it was meant to be. The only thing that makes me nervous is that Grease's surviving author is an active part of that demon reality series, so it makes me wonder if he just doesn't give a shit, which would make my extensive, painstaking research something of a joke, wouldn't it? Yes. Shut up, I didn't ask you! Okay, I did ask you, but it was a rhetorical question and I... shut up!
Then again, when Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wrote Grease, they probably didn't set out to create an historical document; in a sense, they were writing an autobiography, basing the characters on people they knew, and basing events on their own experiences graduating high school in 1959. But I'm not creating autobiography since I graduated high school in 1982, listening to Kool and the Gang singing "Celebration" (Come on!), although I did music direct Grease my junior year, so that must mean something, right?
Though Jacobs and Casey may not have set out to write a piece of historical social commentary, that is what they ended up writing. And now in 2007, 48 years after those guys graduated, Grease is American history, just like Hair and Rocky Horror are.
"The reality is that what we do and what we are is expressed today through the central recording mechanism of our civilization, through our culture." -- John Ralston Saul, in his introduction to Connecting Flights.
In a time when parents are reacting to rap and other hip-hop forms exactly like 1950s parents reacted to rock and roll (panic, outrage, That Old Time Religion), and now that we know that the rock and roll "fad" has lasted more than 50 years, maybe Grease does have something of import to say, even more so than when it opened in 1971 when the Fifties didn't seem quite so long ago. Jacobs and Casey created a piece of historical drama (defined in the widest sense of the word) but may not have realized it initially because it was also autobiography.
In other words, just because Jacobs is whoring Grease out, doesn't mean Grease is a whore. (Though there are worse things it could do.) And just because I'm taking the show seriously as social satire doesn't mean I'm a geek. I'm not a geek! So stop calling me that! I'm not gonna warn you again!
I gotta stop smoking this ditch weed, man!
Long Live the Musical!