‘Grease Live!': I Was Wowed! [VIDEO]
So far the TV musical revival has given us singing nuns, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, however, FOX pushed the limits of live television Sunday night with its manic and impressive production of "Grease Live!" Seriously, this was a lot of fun to watch.
I was three or four when I saw the movie for the first time. I was instantly obsessed with it, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and the movie's multi-platinum soundtrack. I would say it's the movie I've seen the most times in my life. And up until its 1978 release, critics were declaring the movie musical dead. Boy were they wrong. That being said, I'm a 'Grease' purist, and I did see the stage version at the River Park Center about ten years ago. It was ahem, a little different. When it was announced FOX would stage the musical live, I along with many others were skeptical. There was talk of rain in the forecast for LA, so what would happen? Oh man, from the jump, there was a hyped up energy capped off by pop singer Jessie J's version of "Grease".
I didn't see any rain, but for the most part, the production stayed indoors. Now one element that was different from any of the TV musicals as of late was the incorporation of a live audience. It was weird for two reasons, one, they didn't dress in '50s' clothes and the director didn't want them to, and two, they would just sit there during certain parts of the show; a tad bit awkward. The director by the way was Thomas Kail, who directed the hottest ticket on Broadway, 'Hamilton'. I think Kail, even with all the precision, meshed the original show with the beloved movie very well. Was there more emphasis on the movie? Of course, and that's what the audience wanted.
Two original stage numbers, "Those Magic Changes" and "Freddy My Love" (a show piece for singer/actress KeKe Palmer) were brought in for this production. It just presented a better balance of the original material.
One of the biggest showstoppers was Vanessa Hudgens/Rizzo's performance of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do". Hudgens' father Greg passed away Saturday night and the actress decided the show would go on.
Despite 20 seconds of silence when the big school dance number "Born to Hand Jive" started, the production nearly went off without a hitch. The finale "We Go Together" was fervent, but a delight to watch. Golf carts are the new muscle car, oh and we finally made it to the massive outside carnival set.
The biggest surprise for me besides cameos by Didi Conn (original Frenchy) and Barry Pearl (original Doody) was Eve Plumb aka Jan Brady as auto shop instructor Mrs. Murdock!
If you missed 'Grease Live!' here it is! Keep an open mind. And its run time is much shorter than the original 3-hour broadcast.