Ryan Watched “Grease Live” and Lived To Tell About It
Some thoughts on Grease Live. First of all I am a huge fan of the film, though I’ve never seen the broadway show. I have many of the songs memorized. I like many was very skeptible on Grease being the next big live tv musical. And I was pleasantly surprised.
The opening shot was a cheesy processed green screen shot of Danny and Sandy at the beach. Once the scene was over, the shot pulls back to reveal a set and pop star Jessie J takes over, singing Grease is the World, and travels backtstage to show some of the actors getting ready, and what not. This showed that this was not going to be the usual live tv musical, which up to this point, have never even “broken the 4th wall” or had a live audience cheering after a musical number.
Speaking of the musical numbers, most of them were faithful to the film and the stage show. The semi raunchy dialogue was still there, surprisingly no lyric changes in “Summer Nights” either. Speaking of “Summer Nights”, I liked that they kept the split screen between Danny & Sandy at the end of the number, though Aaron Tveit couldn’t hit the epic high note/falsetto that Travolta hit on the word “Nights” though I don’t know how Travolta hit it either. The main change was naturally “Greased Lightning”. I was glad that Kenickie was able to sing the 2nd verse. For the film, John Travolta used his clout to have his character Danny sing the whole song. Here they share the duties. Also during the musical interlude, there was an extended dance number that also included a number of female dancers. Unfortunately they did have to change some lyrics to fit broadcast standards (no “the chicks’ll cream” or “she’s a real pussy wagon”). While that was a little bit of a bummer, Greased Lightning was surely a highlight. Another highlight was Frenchy (Carly Rae Jepsen) getting her own solo “All I Need Is An Angel” right before “Beauty School Dropout” which featured R&B icons Boyz to Men taking over for the teen angels from Frankie Avalon in the film.
Another highlight was the complex choreography. Especially with the complex camera work, how they pulled any of that off without any major issues was a miracle. The one big technical issue was the audio went out for a good 30 seconds during “Hand Jive” and had a lot of audio interference during “Hopelessly Devoted To You”. Also when actors had to make contact with each other (fake sex or even like hugging) you could hear their mics. Other than that everything went off without a hitch. Nobody bumped into a steadycam during those long and complex takes, though before ‘We Go Together” one of the carts riding the actors ran into a curb but hey, Live TV.
Some noted that because the show explicitly mentions that it takes place in 1959, would there have really been such a diverse mix of characters & even had interracial dating. Given that it takes place in California and not say “the south” I’d say people should let that slide. Another change was Sandy is now from Salt Lake City Utah, & not Australia like the movie, though that was more due to Olivia Newton John & not wanting to try an american accent.
The cast was very impressive as well with Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo and Aaron Tveit as Danny Zucker. Also a shout out to Hudgens who lost her father to cancer the night before the show aired and carried on without missing a beat. Did like seeing Wendell Pierce (Bunk on the Wire) as Coach Calhoun.
Overall, I was expecting a trainwreck of epic proportions, but what I got was an impressive piece of live televised musical theater. Certainly recommend giving this a shot whenever this re airs.