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Cover to original Broadway Cast Recording

A Musical in Two Acts, a Prologue and 23 Scenes. Book by Fay Kanin. Music by Larry Grossman. Lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh.

Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York - 16 April 1985 (79 perfs)


Act 1

Grind takes place in and around Harry Earle's Burlesk in Chicago, 1933, the depths of the depression. The black and white company of the burlesque house is allowed to exist through payoffs to local authorities, so long as segregation is maintained both on and off stage.

Satin, the principal black stripper, who has fought her way out of the black Chicago Ghetto, teases the audience with her songs. Gus, the top white banana, tries valiantly to hide from the boss, Harry, the fact that he's going blind. With his timing awry, he's unable to hang on to his stooges, and in desperation recruits one of the bums, Thomas Doyle, who inhabit the theatre alley.

Backstage, in playful camaraderie, LeRoy, the top black comic, engages the girls in song, using his rough childhood as a come-on. Unable to show his true feelings for her, LeRoy lets Satin think of him as only a good-time-guy. In her number she conveys to him the depth of what she's looking for.

Onstage, LeRoy steps out of his funny-man role to share with the audience his unexpressed emotions.
After Thomas Doyle's first day as a stooge, Gus urges him to return. Alone, Doyle appeals to the memory of his wife and asks forgiveness for still being alive.

The next morning, as The Grind begins, the company is concerned that Gus' new stooge hasn't shown up. But, as Maybelle, the theatre's wardrobe mistress, predicts, Providence intervenes, and by the time the day is underway, Gus discovers Doyle waiting for him in the dressing room, and a new partnership has begun.
LeRoy arrives backstage with a bicycle which Satin purchased as a birthday present for her little brother, Grover. Dreading the disapproval of her stoic mother over this gift bought with ill-gotten money, Satin lets LeRoy cheer her up with his impersonation of her mother's probable reaction.

Since Doyle turns out to be the only person in the company who can ride a bike, he delivers it to the birthday party and, with his Irish charm, wins over Satin's mother. In a mood of celebration, LeRoy, Satin, and Doyle are teaching Grover to ride the bicycle when a gang of toughs appear, taunting them and eventually breaking the bike into pieces. Unable to deal with this violent act, LeRoy calls on the only remedy he knows — entertainment — and re-creates the burlesque house, their one safe place, in a frenzied escape from reality as the first act ends.

Act 2

The bond between Gus and Doyle is deepening as they continue to develop their bits. Satin looks on, intrigued by the mystery of Doyle. Her thoughts are heard in counterpoint to their musical conversation.

After an onstage mishap and an ultimatum from Harry, Gus realises that it's no longer possible to cover for his worsening loss of vision. A strip number performed by Harry's wife, Romaine, comments on taking life as it comes while, offstage, Gus decides that it's time for his own life to end. Gradually, all of the company joins Maybelle in a tribute to their friend, Gus. During this, Doyle, grief-stricken, disappears.

After a day's unsuccessful search for Doyle, LeRoy and Satin return to the theatre where LeRoy, finally letting himself be vulnerable, tells Satin how he feels. Touched, she agrees to meet him later for dinner, and LeRoy, overjoyed, celebrates his breakthrough.

On her way to meet LeRoy, Satin stumbles on a once-again drunken Doyle who's being brutally rolled by a gang of toughs. She rescues him and takes him to her home where, in his tortured sleep, he reveals the secret that has haunted him and his guilt that, as an Irish terrorist, he unwittingly brought about his own greatest loss through an act of violence.

The next morning, with a new awakening of caring for each other, Satin leaves Doyle to rush to work. She finds an angry and rejected LeRoy, who humiliates her onstage then, in a rage, physically attacks Doyle, who has returned to the theatre. Latent racial tensions arise as the company takes sides.

A shaken Satin goes on for her strip. Toughs begin to invade the theatre, bringing the violence and prejudice of the streets inside with them. Attacked, the company fights back. Even LeRoy, putting away his hurt and expressing his love for Satin, joins the battle. One by one, all members of the company begin to realise they are a family, protecting their home against a common enemy.


(in order of appearance):

Musical Numbers:

  1. Prologue - This Must Be the Place - Company
  2. Cadava - Solly, Gus, Romaine
  3. A Sweet Thing Like Me - Satin, Earle's Pearls
  4. I Get Myself Out - Gus
  5. My Daddy Always Taught Me to Share - Leroy
  6. All Things to One Man - Satin
  7. The Line - Leroy, Earle's Pearls
  8. Katie My Love - Doyle
  9. The Grind - Gus, Company
  10. Yes, Ma'am - Doyle
  11. Why, Mama, Why - Satin, Leroy
  12. This Crazy Place - Leroy, Company
  13. From the Ankles Down - Leroy, Earle's Pearls
  14. Who Is He? - Satin
  15. Never Put It in Writing - Gus
  16. I Talk, You Talk - Doyle
  17. Timing - Romaine, Solly
  18. These Eyes of Mine - Maybelle, Company
  19. New Man - Leroy - (Dance Music Arranged by Gordon Lowry Harrell.)
  20. Down -Doyle
  21. A Century of Progress - Leroy, Satin, Earle's Pearls
  22. Finale Company

Scenes and Settings:

The action takes place in and around Harry Earle's Burlesque Theatre in Chicago, Illinois during 1933.

Prologue: Harry Earle's Burlesque Theatre.

Act 1

Scene 1: Backstage.
Scene 2: Onstage.
Scene 3: In the Wings.
Scene 4: Onstage.
Scene 5: The Alley next to the Theatre.
Scene 6: Girls' Dressing Room; Backstage.
Scene 7: The Alley.
Scene 8: Onstage.
Scene 9: The Alley.
Scene 10: Backstage.
Scene 11: Mrs. Fay's Kitchen.
Scene 12: On the Street.

Act 2

Scene 1: Backstage.
Scene 2: Onstage.
Scene 3: Stage Right Wing.
Scene 4: Onstage.
Scene 5: Backstage.
Scene 6: Backstage.
Scene 7: The Alley.
Scene 8: Satin's Room.
Scene 9: Onstage.
Scene 10: Backstage.
Scene 11: Onstage.


Original Broadway Cast Recording - TER CD TER 1103