Here’s our review of Grease: Live!
Live TV musicals have been revolutionized for the better.
Here’s the parts we loved:
1) An Actual Audience
Unlike the past live NBC musicals, FOX’s Grease had a live audience, and incorporated them into scenes like the pep rally. After all, it would be strange to have totally empty bleachers at a high school. And instead of the usual silence at the end of a big number, the audience burst into applause. This bold move payed off and definitely upped the entertainment value. It will be interesting to see if NBC follows suit.
2) Last-Minute Dedication
The star of the show wasn’t who you expected. Vanessa Hudgens’ Rizzo stole the spotlight with her amazing version of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” This showstopper was even more amazing when you realized her father had passed away earlier that very morning. Hudgens said she was performing in his honor, and the ending credits concluded with a touching dedication.
3) Passing of the Frenchy Torch
Casting the original Frenchy and Doody (Didi Conn and Barry Pearl) was a heartwarming touch. Doody showed up as the scout checking out Rydell for National Bandstand. The old Frenchy’s cameo was much better as a diner waitress who gives the new incarnation a pep talk before the “Beauty School Dropout” song. Conn’s conversation with Carly Rae Jepsen was one of the program’s highlights.
4) Diverse Casting
One of the changes FOX took with Grease: Live was to have a diverse set of actors. Keke Palmer in a white-bread role was a powerful statement. In an interview, Palmer spoke about how great it is that the broadcast really represented the world today.
5) The Opening!
Viewers at home knew exactly what the show’s atmosphere would be like from the get-go. After a quick look at Danny and Sandy’s summer fling, music-star Jessie J jumped into an upbeat rendition of “Grease is the Word.” She walked through the vast set, showing us we were in for a real treat.
6) The Finale!
After moving some scenes planned for outside into an indoor set due to the unpredictable rain, the entire cast headed to a surreal carnival. They hopped on golf-carts, and drove down the set until they reached their destination. It all culminated in a belted-out “We Go Together.”
Now, for what could’ve been better:
1) Stale Acting
With the exception of The Wiz Live!, 21st century televised musicals have all failed in one regard: acting. Of course great singing voices are crucial, but if the dialogue falls flat, the show will be widely ridiculed. Think back and all you’ll remember from The Sound of Music Live! is Carrie Underwood’s dreadful performance. Aaron Tveit doesn’t have half the charisma of John Travolta, and Julianne Hough wasn’t that charming until post-makeover Sandy. Luckily this didn’t ruin the fun of the overall 3 hours.
2) Original Song was a Flop
Much buzz was generated over the fact that Carly Rae Jepsen would be performing a new song just for Grease: Live. Premiering during the show, “All I Need is an Angel” was not impressive. Incorporating both movie and Broadway songs was enough.