Born on April 20, 1935 in Yonkers, New York to Peter L., a steamfitter, and Signe, a nurse, (Ginman) Casey. Casey received his Fine Arts Degree from the Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts in 1957.
In the mid-1960s, Casey met Jim Jacobs while acting with the Chicago Stage Guild, and the two began collaborating on a play with music about high school life during the golden age of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Entitled Grease, it premiered in 1971 at the Kingston Mines Theater, one of the pioneering companies of Chicago's off-Loop theater movement, in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. Producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox saw the show and suggested to the playwrights that it might work better as a musical, and told them if the creative partners were willing to rework it and they liked the end result, they would produce it off-Broadway. Casey quit his day job as a department store lingerie buyer and the team headed to New York City to collaborate on what would become Grease, which opened at the Eden Theatre in downtown Manhattan, moved to Broadway, and earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical. The show went on to become a West End hit, a hugely successful film (for which he and Jacobs wrote additional songs), and a staple of regional theatre, summer stock, community theatre, and high school drama groups.
Casey's acting credits include the original production of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago in 1974 at the Organic Theater Company. Under Stuart Gordon's direction, Casey created the role of foul-mouthed self-styled makeout artist Bernie Litko, delivering a comically outrageous performance tinged with pathos. In the same year he fronted $1,000 to help start Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. In 1976, he wrote Mudgett. He wrote (with Jim Jacobs) Island of Lost Coeds, a two-act musical, produced at Columbia College Chicago under the direction of Sheldon Patinkin. He also contributed incidental music to Twelfth Night in 1976 and new lyrics to June Moon in 1977.
In addition, Casey has worked in the musical Cats.
Casey died of AIDS-related complications in Chicago at the age of 53. At the time of his death he was writing a musical with the Brazilian performer Valucha deCastro.
Burial: Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Grease: Easy Piano Selections by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Hal Leonard Corporation (September 1, 1997)
Amazon: Grease: Easy Piano Selections
Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr by Robert Hofler
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
Amazon: Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr
Allan Carr was Hollywood’s premier party-thrower during the town’s most hedonistic era—the cocaine-addled, sexually indulgent 1970s. Hosting outrageous soirees with names like the Mick Jagger/Cycle Sluts Party and masterminding such lavishly themed opening nights as the Tommy/New York City subway premiere, it was Carr, an obese, caftan-wearing producer—the ultimate outsider—who first brought movie stars and rock stars, gays and straights, Old and New Hollywood together.
From the stunning success of Grease and La Cage aux Folles to the spectacular failure of the Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music, as a producer Carr’s was a rollercoaster of a career punctuated by major hits and phenomenal flops—none more disastrous than the Academy Awards show he produced featuring a tone-deaf Rob Lowe serenading Snow White, a fiasco that made Carr an outcast, and is still widely considered to be the worst Oscars ever.
Tracing Carr’s excess-laden rise and tragic fall—and sparing no one along the way—Party Animals provides a sizzling, candid, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s most infamous period.
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