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Warren Casey Papers

Identifier: spe-ctc-wcp

Scope and Contents

The Warren Casey papers document creative projects undertaken by Casey in the 1970s and 1980s. The papers primarily consist of manuscript and typewritten working notes, scene ideas, draft scripts, lyrics and scores. While the bulk of the materials relate to Grease and provide considerable insight into its conception and evolution, the papers also provide insight into the variety of other projects which Casey worked on.


  • Creation: 1970 - 1988


Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English. Some materials in Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Biographical / Historical

Warren Casey, at times an author, lyricist, composer and actor, is best known as co-author with Jim Jacobs of the hit musical Grease. A native of Yonkers, N.Y., Casey attended Syracuse University, where he earned a degree in fine arts. He later taught in New York high schools. Casey moved to Chicago in the early 1960s, where he became heavily involved in the local theater scene. He met Jim Jacobs in 1963, while acting with the Chicago Stage Guild. The two began writing Grease, a parody about high school in the 1950s, in 1970, after Casey had been fired from a job as a lingerie salesman and purchased a typewriter in preparation for a job as an advertising copywriter. The musical premiered at the Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago in 1971. Grease moved to New York in a slightly altered form in 1972, where it earned Tony nominations and became the longest-running Broadway show of its time. In 1978 a film version of Grease was produced starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This was followed by a less successful film sequel, Grease 2, in 1982.

In addition to his work with the Chicago Stage Guild and his work on Grease, Casey was involved in various ways with a number of Chicago theaters and independent writing projects. He was on the original artistic board of the Victory Gardens Theater, and created the role of Bernie in the 1974 Organic Theater premier of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He and Jacobs also collaborated on a musical entitled Island of the Lost Co-Eds, which was produced by Columbia College in 1981. One of his final, and unfinished, projects included a collaboration on a musical with Brazilian performer Valucha de Castro. Casey died of complications of AIDS on November 8, 1988, at the age of 53.


3.5 Linear Feet (in 7 boxes, includes 2 audiocassettes)


Draft and final scripts, lyrics and scores, as well as some administrative material such as correspondence for productions and projects on which Warren Casey worked during the 1970s and 1980s. Includes considerable materials relating to Grease, including working notes, draft and final versions of the script and score in its various manifestations, and the published score. Also included are drafts of screenplays for the film version of Grease and its sequel, Grease 2.


The papers have been arranged into two series:

  • Series 1: General, 1973, 1975, undated
  • Series 2: Productions and Projects, 1970-1988, undated

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Access to some audiovisual material may not be possible due to available replay equipment or to state of physical media. Please contact the archives before your visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials were donated to the Special Collections and Preservation Division by Burt Cohen in 1993.

Related Materials

Researchers should note that Special Collections also holds a program from the original Kingston Mines Theatre production, 1971, in the Chicago Theater Collection-Miscellaneous Programs, and a program from a Blackstone Theatre production, 1973, in the Chicago Theater Collection-Historical Programs. Additional materials relating to this production can be found in the Victory Gardens Theater Records.

Guide to the Warren Casey Papers
Original author unknown. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Sarah Zimmerman, 2021.
circa 1993
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875