Great White Way is hopelessly devoted

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NEW YORK -- Tonight, the latest incarnation of "Grease" begins the prevue process at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, and like "Les Miserables," it is certainly one of the fastest returns to Broadway any long-run legiter ever made. Wasn't it just yesterday that the Robert Stigwood-Jim Jacobs-Warren Casey money machine was in our midst? Well, it actually was a tad longer, but it has been less than 10 years since Danny Zuko, Sandy and Rizzo were last hangin' around Shubert Alley. To be precise: Jan. 25, 1998, was the wrap date of the successful revival that opened in 1994 with a cast including Rosie O'Donnell as Rizzo, Megan Mullally, Hunter Foster and Sam Harris and which racked up 1,505 performances. As for the original "Grease," it launched in 1972 (the cast included unknowns Barry Bostwick as Danny as well as Adrienne Barbeau and Walter Bobbie) and went on to run for a phenomenal eight years and 3,388 performances. "Grease" still ranks as the 12th-longest run in Broadway history. Then, of course, there was the 1978 movie version that racked up a record of its own, becoming the highest-grossing movie musical of all time, an amazing success for a legit show one could never accuse of actually being very good, though the John Travolta movie version with all those twentysomething high schoolers does seem to be more entertaining every time I see it. ... This also is the week that three major Broadway houses put up the "final performance" sign Sunday: "Grey Gardens," with its sensational Tony-winning performances by Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson, ends its run at the Walter Kerr; "110 in the Shade," with a superstrong female performance of its own delivered by Audra McDonald, closes at Studio 54; and Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," which has been in residence in town for the past 13 years, finally finishes at the Lunt-Fontanne, where it eventually moved after opening at the Palace in 1994. "Beauty" is the sixth-longest Broadway runner ever. Also Sunday, the "Encores!" full staging of "Gypsy" at the City Center, which amassed a pile of great reviews and strong word-of-mouth, says adieu after its limited run starring Patti LuPone with Boyd Gaines, directed by the author of the musical's book, Arthur Laurents. ... Off-Broadway, the must-sees are dwindling, too. The Woodshed Collective's revival of John Logan's "Never the Sinner" (the 1988 Outer Critic Circle Award winner for outstanding off-Broadway play) finishes its run at the Flamboyan on Saturday. Focusing on the infamous Leopold-Loeb murder case in Chicago circa 1925, this adaptation of "Sinner" is directed by Gabriel Hainer Evansohn and boasts a cast headed by Derek Manson and Chris Cole. ... Happily, not everything's heading out. Among those soon heading into the local theater environs, add Lynn Redgrave to the list of future headliners as well as Annette Bening ("The Female of the Species"), Harvey Fierstein ("A Catered Affair"), Claire Danes ("Pygmalion"), Brian Cox and Rufus Sewell (Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll"), Sutton Foster ("Young Frankenstein"), Marsha Mason ("A Feminine Ending"), Mikhail Baryshnikov ("Beckett Shorts") and Bill Pullman ("Peter and Jerry"). Beginning in January, Redgrave will star for the MCC in the New York premiere of Mick Gordon and AC Grayling's "Grace" at the Lucille Lortel, where it's scheduled for a five-week run.
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