I’ve been on the road for just about all of January so I haven’t been able to watch too much TV, let alone write about it for my tens of fans. Tonight though, I got to watch some new TV. A show I’ve been looking forward to since it was first announced, Grease Live!
This is the 4th live musical for TV since 2013. The Sound of Music Live! was fantastic. The other two, The Wiz and Peter Pan were meh. Will Grease Live! get the score back to even? Yes. I think it did.
Before I get in to the show, it was announced just before airing that Vanessa Hudgens’ father died of cancer just prior to her having to perform tonight. She dedicated the performance to her father. I commend her for going out and performing a live show while mourning the loss of her father.
On to the show.
If you watched tonight, you probably noticed that some songs were missing and other songs were included that you have never heard. The show tonight was a mix of the original stage show and the movie along with an original song written just for this show.
Overall I thought it totally worked. I loved it. Sure I have some critiques of some of the performances, but everyone really did a great job on this show. What an incredible undertaking for a live performance. So many set changes, so many moving parts, so much choreography. All of it done live. And all of it done with an audience watching who knows every bit of the movie front and back. Any tiny mistake or change would be noticed immediately. They pulled it off though (apart from a little sound glitch during Hand Jive).
Julianne Hough. She played Sandy and she was fantastic. Of course she’s beautiful and she can dance and she can sing. She played the prissy good girl very well and her singing voice was fantastic. Seriously. She was perfect tonight.
Aaron Tveit. He played Danny and he was also fantastic. My one complaint about his performance is that he didn’t hit the high notes like Travolta did. I don’t really blame him though. Maybe he could hit those notes but who is going to take that risk on live TV? Tveit made his performing debut on Broadway back in 2006 in Rent and he was in the movie version of Les Miserables. It’s not a surprise that he can sing and dance. He held his own on the dance floor with professional dancer Hough. They absolutely killed the dance scene during Hand Jive.
Keke Palmer as Marty. Her solo song was from the original stage version so most might not recognize it. She killed it though. Flipping her through a set and putting her out in front of actual members of the military as if she was performing a USO show was brilliant.
The Choreography. A huge number of people were involved in nearly every scene and everyone seemed to hit their marks. I didn’t see any mistakes, at least ones that I noticed. I’m sure the performers know the things that went wrong but from a spectator’s perspective, it all seemed perfect.
Include in the choreography the big race scene. That was all done with lighting and camera angles. Remember, that was done live. Just fantastic.
I know her dad just died and I’m sure that impacted her performance, but Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo just wasn’t a good fit. She didn’t pull it off very well. Her singing wasn’t very good and I just didn’t buy her as bad girl Rizzo.
Kether Donohue as Jan. I love Kether on You’re the Worst but she over-acted her role in tonight’s show. She was trying to mimic the movie version of Jan far too much and she didn’t do it very well.
The only actual pop star in the cast, Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy. Her acting was ok but the place that she should have shined, the singing, she didn’t. She was not good. A new song was written for this show that was sung by her and it was a compete dud.
- Lots of changes to lyrics and dialogue from the movie to this live TV version. The edits cleaned it up a bit. Notable changes were to Grease Lightning (look up the original lyrics. I bet you never paid attention to them from the movie. They are quite dirty) and to Rizzo’s Look at me I’m Sandra Dee.
- Since most of you aren’t TV and movie nerds like I am, you might have missed a trivia connection that was inserted in to the slumber party scene. One of the girls mentions 77 Sunset Strip. That was a show that was huge on TV from 1958 to 1964. What’s notable about that show? It starred a guy named Edd Bymes. Who’s Edd Byrnes? He played Vince Fontaine in the 1978 movie. That’s some quality trivia for you.
- Could you tell who played Mrs. Murdock (the auto-shop teacher)? That’s TV’s Jan Brady also known as Eve Plumb.
- Boys II Men played the Frankie Avalon part of Teen Angel for Beauty School Dropout. If you are a Boys II Men fan, you may have noticed they were missing someone. The bass guy, Michael McCary, had to retire from music due to scoliosis.
- DiDi Conn played the role of Vi the old waitress. Vi was opposite DiDi in the movie so almost 40 years later, she has flipped over to the other side of the table. She looked pretty good and did a good job. She’s the only original movie cast member to make an appearance in Grease Live!
Overall this is my favorite yet of the live musicals. The production was huge for Grease Live! So many things had to go right and they all did. Except for a few minor glitches with sound and some kind of a malfunction for Hudgens in the final number that didn’t hurt the production, I didn’t see any mistakes.
The cast and crew really did an outstanding job tonight.
What are your thoughts? Did you watch? Anything stand out to you? Be sure to let us know.