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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 25, 1973)
Adolescence, high school
of 50s parodied in Grease
By Va! McPherson
The music of the' 50s isn't my
favorite and so with some
apprehension, I arrived in Omaha last
Sunday to review the rock and roll
Corn Cobs, UNL men's spirit
organization, had arranged cast
interviews by the news media before
the show at the New Paxton Hotel.
The hotel management, however,
knew nothing about it. By accident
my photographer, John Rubin, and I
met Chick Vennera, assistant stage
manager and actor.
We joined Vennera and four other
members of the cast, Marcia McClain,
John Larfsing, Karen Dille and Jerry
Barkoff for a hurried preshow dinner.
The first thing that struck me about
the cast was their ages.
The average age was 19.5 years old
which kept the conversation from
becoming a personal sales pitch
characteristic of more experienced
actors. Instead, we talked of new
albums, great places to eat in
Milwaukee and the Grateful Dead
concert that would steal much of their
The three speak of the "good old
days" fondly, but with relief that they
arc gone. The rest of the show is a
flashback concerning the relationship
of Sandy Dumbrowski (McClain) and
Danny Zuko (Lansing). It is the
familiar theme of leader of the pack
who falls in love with "Miss Innocent"
and corrupts her.
About the same time dinner was
served, the cast had to dash off to
prepare for the curtain call. Rubin and
I stayed behind to arrange for McClain
and Lansing's steaks to le held until
after the show, and then made 'our
way to the Music Hall through a crowd
of mostly Grateful Dead fans. After
convincing the management that the
Daily Nebraskan was a legitimate
newspaper, we went backstage and
photographed the last minute
Gigantic photos of high school
seniors and rock stars of the 50s were
the set decorations. The play opens
with the Rydell High School class
reunion of 1959, presided over by the
terror of the English dept. Miss Lynch,
the stereotyped bookworm Eugene
and the still enthusiastic
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Grease was written by Jim Jacobs,
who was a high school student in the
50s, and Warren Casey, a former high
school teacher. They met in 1963 at
the Chicago Stage Guild, and in 1969
began writing what would Ijecome
Grease. It was first performed by
fellow amateur actors in the Kingston
Mines Theatre in Chicago where it
drew a capacity crowd for the next
News of this success reached
Kenneth Waissman and Maxine Fox in
Nfw York. After scouting the show
they decided to tafttfirtteCk With
them. It opened at the Eden Theatre
in 1972 with a professional cast. Four
months later it was moved to
Broadway where it is still running,
currently the longest run of any
Since June, Grease also has lxen
entertaining London audiences. Two
national companies have toured the
United States and Canada presenting
it. The second of these companies was
the one to appear in Omaha and will
Ije in Lincoln Oct. 30.
Grease is basically a
musical-cornedy about an urban high
school in the 50s. Its vehicle is
explosive choreography, comic
treatment of tear-jerking songs that
would have made the top 40,
typical-yet exaggerated-high school
scenes and rampant satire.
There is a serious note to this
production that probably makes all
the jive so effective. Grease has
captured a moment in American
history when rhythm and blues burst
out of its previously black domain and
radically altered pop music. The
tranquil Eisenhower years v re rocked
by this youthful fuium whose speaker
was an awkward new morality.
This production also has captured a
bit of our own personal history. It has
caught the beautiful, yei terrifying,
time known as adolescence when
youth struggles for identity in a
foreign environment. Grease will ba
enjoyed by those who remember their
youth, whether it was in the 50s or
After the show McClain, Lansing
and I talked our way into the Grateful
Dead concert. The Dead played "Goin'
down the road feeling bad" while
McClain and Lansing relaxed from the
pressure of a national tour.
Over a meal of leftover steaks, Milk
Duds and Cokes, they talked of the
rigors of a tour that takes them by bus
to as many as eight performances a
week. They are required to keep
physically fit and to be at their best
for each show. Somehow they do it
and that is the clay from which
theatrical excellence is molded.
McClain, Lansing and the rest of
Grease will bo in Lincoln at Pershing
Auditorium on Tuesday at 8 p.m. All
seats are reserved and are selling for
$3.50, $4.50 and $5.50. It should be
two hours of excellent entertainment,
even if your favorite group is Jethro
McCoy Tyner, Song of the New World.
McCoy Tyner has to be one of the
most exciting, challenging ja
musicianscomposers around. This new
album by the renowned pianist h
further evidence of his constant
exploration and expansion into new
The alburn is a little reminiscent of
his earlier Extensions, and in fact
seems to b; an expansion of it.
Opening the album is Monrjo
Santamaria's "Afro Blue." Alphonze
Mouzon is superb on drums -more
imaginative than I've heard him for
awhile. Hubert Laws on flute and
piccolo is, as usual, crystal clear,
Jooney Booth's bass is the solid
driving force of the second cut "Little
Brother." A dynamite trumpet solo by
Virgil Jones enhances the piece.
The second side opens with the
hauntingly beautiful "The Divine
Love." Tyner proves ho can arrange
and orchestrate as well as compose and
Tyner's work never ceases to fv i
my thoughts while listening. His
knowledge as composer and artist of
effects is evident, and he has the truly
great jazzman's richness of ideas and
mastery of everything fie does.
Pianist McCoy Tyner
By Diane Wanek
Willa Cather has played such an important
role in the development of Nebraska's culture,
it is fitting that this week marks the opening of
the Willa Cather Centennial Festival.
The festival consists of a number of cultural
programs planned throughout the year to honor
this distinguished Nebraska writer. These
include several concerts, an international
seminar, films and a photography exhibit
The 'festival opens tomorrow at Sheldon Art
Gallery with "The World of Willa Cather", a
photographic exhibit by Lucia Woods.
The photographs in IVilla Cather: A Pictorial
Memoir, to be published in December by the
University of Nebraska Press, will be comprised
of photographs mainly by Woods, a Chicago
born artist who studied at the New York
School of Interior Design.
According to Phil Perry, member of the
Sheldon Art Gallery staff, "the vibrant artist
has captured the land of Nebraska and the
Southwest wilh a true bearing, as described by
thursday, October 25, 1973
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