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`GREASE’ REVIVAL HEADS FOR DELAWARE OPENING

SHARE `GREASE’ REVIVAL HEADS FOR DELAWARE OPENING

The cast and crew of the "Grease" revival have departed for Wilmington, Del., where the show is opening a road tour. It should be in New York this spring, but whether it will get here before the Tony deadline of May 11 is still up in the air.

"It'll either be the last show of this season or the first show of next season," said Barry Weissler, who is producing the show with his wife, Fran. The Weisslers said they were concerned about competing for Tony awards this year because of the crowd of revivals, but now that next season is beginning to take shape - with "Show Boat," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" expected - the way doesn't seem any clearer."Grease," the celebration of 1950s high schoolery written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, opened on Broadway in 1972, ran for nearly eight years and spawned a popular film. At one time the Weisslers were to co-produce the revival with Robert Stigwood, the producer of the film, who owns the English rights to the original stage musical; his London production opened on July 15. The Weisslers have the American rights.

The plan, the Weisslers said, was that they and Stigwood would each put up $3 million, and that two shows would result: a high-tech extravaganza for the road, which Stigwood would produce, and a more earthbound Broadway show they themselves would control. Like the London version, each show would contain three songs from the movie that were not in the original play.

However, after a few minutes of the Broadway production, then in early rehearsals, were shown on a national telecast of the Miss America Pageant in September, the partners had a falling out. Stigwood hadn't liked what he'd seen.

"What he wanted was control, including certain casting decisions," Fran Weissler said. "We weren't willing to give up control, and we did have differences of opinion over the casting."

The partnership dissolved - amicably, the Weisslers insist - and the production continued with the same cast. (Rosie O'Donnell, Ricky Paull Goldin and Susan Woods are the featured players.) Stigwood took back his money and his three songs: the title song, "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "You're the One That I Want."

"It wasn't hard to walk away from the money," Fran Weissler said. "It was hard to walk away from the songs."

They have added a song, "Since I Don't Have You," which the Sky-liners recorded in 1959. In the meantime, "Grease" in London is a huge hit. Stigwood did not respond to phone messages left at his London office or his home on the Isle of Wight.