TV Review: Grease Live!
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Grease Live!
Based on the 1971 Musical & 1978 Film “Grease”
Directed by Alex Rudzinski
Written Robert Cary & Jonathan Tolins
Starring Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, Keke Palmer, Carlos Pena Vega, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kether Donohue, David Del Rio, Jordan Fisher, Andrew Call.
Air Date: Sunday, January 31st, 2016, 7:00pm

Grease was the word tonight as Grease Live! hit television screens from 7:00-10:00pm ET on FOX. Live shows are all the rage nowadays, trending the instant they are on. This version combines both the musical and film version from the 70s. We know the story (and songs) by heart – good girl Sandy and greaser Danny Zuko have a summer beach romance. But romance goes awry when they “accidentally” run into each other at the same school. Danny has a rep to protect, and Sandy is shy and a goody-two shoes. But somehow, by meeting somewhere in the middle, they realize they “go together.”

Spoilers below.

It begins with Danny and Sandy (Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough) on the beach scene. Then Jessie J appears and sings “Grease” strutting backstage through the dressing rooms, outside to screaming fans, along with the cast.

The sets look great. The costumes are perfect. The parts with dialogue don’t feel authentic, but I think that’s because it has more of a Broadway over-the-top feel. There are a few scenes I don’t remember from the movie. Perhaps they were in the Broadway version, but I only saw that once during a revival in the 90s, so I cannot be sure.

When “Summer Lovin'” broke out, I was surprised. I did not know Hough had a voice like that. I knew Tveit did from his turn as Enroljas in the film version of Les Miserables. This song was well done, especially the last note “Ni-i-i-ghts!”

Keke Palmer as Marty sings “Freddy My Love” at the sleepover, then to a room full of military members. How do they manage those costume changes so fast? Same thing when they did “Greased Lightning.” It was really good, despite the clean lyric changes.

Didi Conn, who played Frenchy in the original movie, played Vi the waitress. And Barry Pearl (Doody) was the radio station guy.

“Those Magic Changes” sung by Doody (Jordan Fisher) who has this beautiful voice, worthy of a 50s crooner. It is the background to Zuko trying out for several sports teams. I can say that the way this part was done, was even better than the movie version.

The number 1 highlight of the show is Boys II Men singing “Beauty School Dropout.” Those silky voices harmonizing and their synchronized moves – wonderful.

Joe Jonas is no Sha-Na-Na, but he sings well. I feel like he might have forgotten the lyrics during Cha-Cha and Danny’s slow dance.

Mario Lopez does not seem as creepy as the 1978 Vince Fontaine did. He nails the quick before on-air speech.

“Hopelessly Devoted To You” was sung after the dance in this version. Kudos, Julianne Hough.

Side note – the cops were not called for mooning on television, but for alcohol being put in the punch.

Eugene saves the day. I like that that part was changed, because let’s face it… the 1978 T-Birds were bullies.

I also liked that Sandy really stands up for Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens), not just murmuring support like she did in 78.

“You’re The One That I Want” is timeless, and these 2 ARE great singers. My 2nd favorite song of the night (hello? Boys II Men).

A really cool part was the end when the cast jumped on one of those open set buses and drove around singing “We Go Together” to screaming fans. This ended very well. It was like a giant party that we were all invited to.

Nothing could ever be as wonderful as the original movie, but this live effort was fun, the production was beautiful, there was great choreography, and while the dialogue sometimes felt like they were trying to wear their big girl pants, that’s ok. They were, and did as best as anyone could have.

Julianne Hough WAS Sandy, Aaron Tveit had a great voice but had no shot, as Travolta will always be Danny Zuko. And as much as I like Carlos Pena Vega, he could not captire the bad boy of Kenicke like Jeff Conaway.

Now how about “Grease 2 Live” with Camren Bicondova (Gotham) as Stephanie Zinone?

FOX’s synopsis:

(Sunday, Jan. 31, 7:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed)
FOX enrolls at Rydell High with GREASE: LIVE, a LIVE musical production of the massively popular crossover musical “Grease.”

GREASE: LIVE stars Julianne Hough (“Dancing with the Stars,” “Rock of Ages”) as the angelic SANDY YOUNG – Rydell High’s most talked-about newcomer – and Aaron Tveit (“Les Miserables,” Broadway’s “Catch Me If You Can”) as bad boy DANNY ZUKO. Also tapped to star are Vanessa Hudgens (Broadway’s “Gigi,” “Spring Breakers”) as iconic bad girl RIZZO; Keke Palmer (SCREAM QUEENS, “Masters of Sex”) as sassy Pink Lady MARTY MARASCHINO; Carlos Pena Vega (“Big Time Rush”) as KENICKIE, Danny’s tough-guy sidekick; multi-Platinum Grammy® Award-nominated singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen as Pink Lady and beauty school dropout FRENCHY; Kether Donohue (“You’re The Worst”) as Pink Lady JAN; David Del Rio (“Spare Parts,” “The Troop”) as T-Bird PUTZIE; Jordan Fisher as DOODY; and Andrew Call as SONNY.

The event will reimagine and reintroduce some of the most memorable moments, great music and timeless love story to an entirely new generation. In this live television adaptation of the musical classic, the beginning of senior year means the end of Danny and Sandy’s summer romance – until Sandy unexpectedly transfers to Danny’s high school. Can Danny maintain his bad-boy image as the coolest member of the T-Birds, once he and Sandy start going together, and can Sandy remain a good girl after she joins the Pink Ladies? With their friends, Rizzo and Kenickie, pulling them in different directions, it’s up to Danny and Sandy to stay hopelessly devoted as they make their way from Rydell High to a new frontier.

GREASE: LIVE is based on the original 1971 musical “Grease,” by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey; and Paramount Pictures’ 1978 feature adaptation. The film, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing movie musical ever. GREASE: LIVE is a Paramount Television production.

Additional guest and cameo castings for GREASE: LIVE include Jessie J performing “Grease (Is The Word),” Boyz II Men as “Teen Angel,” Mario Lopez (“Extra”) as “Vince Fontaine,” Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live”) as “Principal McGee,” Eve Plumb (“The Brady Bunch”) as “Mrs. Murdock,” Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (“The Fresh Beat Band”) as “Cha Cha,” Elle McLemore (Broadway’s “Heathers”) as “Patty Simcox” and Noah Robbins (“Aardvark”) as “Eugene.”

GREASE: LIVE is produced by Paramount Television. Acclaimed film, television and theater producer Marc Platt (“Wicked,” “Into the Woods”) will executive-produce; Tony Award-nominated director Thomas Kail (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”) is the director overseeing the stage direction; and Alex Rudzinski (“Dancing with the Stars”) will serve as the live television director. Broadway writers Robert Cary (“Anything but Love,” “Ira & Abby”) and Jonathan Tolins (“Buyer & Cellar,” “The Last Sunday in June”) will write the LIVE television adaptation. “Like” GREASE: LIVE on Facebook at facebook.com/GoGrease. Follow the series on Snapchat at GoGrease, Twitter at @GoGrease, and join the conversation using #GreaseLive. See photos and videos on Instagram @GoGrease.

Image Gallery


GREASE: LIVE | First Look | FOX

Executive Producer Marc Platt introduces some of the amazing cast including Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, and Vanessa Hudgens.

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