NAME: Warren Casey

1935 (?), Yonkers, New York (?)

November 8, 1988, Chicago, Illinois

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    Composer, Lyricist, Playwright, Actor

    Fine Arts Degree, Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse, New York (1957)

    Warren Casey is best known as the co-author with Jim Jacobs of the hit musical Grease, a rock-n-roll parody of 1950s high school life that became the second-longest running show in the history of Broadway theatre.

    Casey's work as an actor included creating the role of Bernie in the original production of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago in 1974. He met Jim Jacobs in the 1960s while acting with the Chicago Stage Guild, and the two began writing a show together.

    Grease premiered in 1971 at the Kingston Mines Theater, an obscure venue in the Old Town section of Chicago. As recounted by Jay Sharbutt in a 1979 article, "[The] original version was just a play with music, not a musical."

    Two young theatre producers, Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox, happened to see the show.

    "'I told them I liked their idea, but that it wouldn't work as a play," Waissman says. "It had to be a musical. I told them if they were willing to move to New York, rewrite the thing from scratch with a full score, we'd like to do it as a Broadway musical.

    'They thought about it a few minutes, then agreed. They were taking quite a gamble. It meant leaving their jobs. Warren was a lingerie buyer for a department store and Jim was a copywriter.

    'They came here and worked every day on the show, on something that might have run only one or two nights -- because eight out of ten shows don't last very long on Broadway.'"

    Grease opened Off-Broadway at the downtown Eden Theater, then moved to Broadway to play at the Broadhurst Theater and eventually the Royale. At 3,388 performances the show set a record as the longest-running on Broadway until 1980, when A Chorus Line overtook it.

    In 1978 Paramount released the movie Grease, directed by Randal Kleiser and starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway and Didi Conn.

    At the time of his death Casey was writing a musical with the Brazilian performer Valucha de Castro.

    Warren Casey died of AIDS in Chicago at the age of 53 on November 8, 1988.

    —Nurit Tilles



    Grease (1971) — A New 50's Rock 'N Roll Musical
    Music, Lyrics and Book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
        Alma Mater
        Summer Nights
        Those Magic Changes
        Freddy, My Love
        Greased Lightnin'
        Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee
        We Go Together
        It's Raining On Prom Night
        Born To Hand-Jive
        Beauty School Dropout
        Alone At A Drive-In Movie
        Rock 'n' Roll Party Queen
        There Are Worse Things I Could Do
        All Choked Up
    First produced at Kingston Mines Theater, Chicago (1971)
    Produced Off-Broadway at Eden Theatre
    Broadway run at Broadhurst Theater and Royale Theater


    Casey created the role of Bernie in the original production of Sexual Perversity in Chicago by David Mamet (1974).

    At the time of his death Casey was writing a musical with the Brazilian performer Valucha de Castro. A demo recording of songs, including "Saw You" and "Flamingo March," is believed to exist.


    Grease: The Original Broadway Cast Recording with Adrienne Barbeau and Don Billett, Polydor LP 422-827 548-1 Y- 1 (1972).
    Grease! The New Broadway Cast Recording with Ricky Paull Goldin, Susan Wood, Sam Harris, Marcia Lewis, Billy Porter and Rosie O'Donnell; John McDaniel, musical director, RCA Victor 9026627032 (1994).


    • Obituary, New York Times, Friday, November 11, 1988.
    • "Composer Warren Casey, 53; Co-Author of Musical 'Grease'" (obituary) by Kenan Heise, Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1988.
    • "Cheri Coons Trades Pumps For Four Hits" by Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1988 (includes brief item about songs Warren Casey and Valucha Castro were writing together).
    • Untitled article about Grease by Jay Sharbutt, drama writer for Associated Press, November 4, 1979.







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