Grease: Live! Lives Up to Expectations
by Stacy Sukharevsky on Friday, February 12th, 2016
This past Sunday night I rushed home, eager to catch the beginning of the widely anticipated Grease: Live! on Fox. It seems I was not the only one excited to see this new take on the iconic film— the live show pulled in an average of 12.2 million viewers over the course of the threehour performance, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
As excited as I was to see the live musical, I barely made it halfway through before I rolled my eyes and turned off the T.V. In the morning, I googled Grease: Live!, expecting to laugh at a few scathing reviews. However, I was met instead by a 7.8/10 rating on IMDB and headlines like “Hopelessly Devoted to ‘Grease: Live!” and “Fox Musical was Smooth as Greased Lightning.” Although I was not a fan, it seemed most everyone else was.
The live musical featured a well-known cast, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Jessie J, Mario Lopez, and Keke Palmer, to name a few, with leads Julianne Hough and Aaron Tveit as Sandy and Danny. One of the more notable performances was delivered by Vanessa Hudgens, who played Rizzo, just hours after learning of her father’s death.
While in many ways Grease: Live! stayed true to the original movie, a few lines were altered to be a little more family-friendly, two new songs were added to the show, and of course, sets were modified to accommodate the “Live!” aspect of the performance. The show was filmed amidst 21 set pieces that were so expansive the cast had to be shuttled around on golf carts between scenes. With its changes from the original film, the live musical claimed to “reintroduce and reimagine some of the show’s most memorable moments,” according to the Fox website.
For the most part, the live show went over smoothly. However, if you were watching, you might have noticed that the sound dropped out during the show’s main dance number, “Hand Jive.” That was not, in fact, an issue with your signal, but rather a mistake in the production. Despite this slip-up, the ambitious production of Grease: Live! impressed most viewers with its inventive camera angles and detailed costumes by designer William Ivey Long.
Brie Etoniru (I) has yet to see Grease: Live!, but she is attending a viewing party this weekend and is a bit skeptical. “ I think it’s cool that they’re trying to reinvent the classic, but it’s so hard for the new version to go over well with a large audience. When they did a similar thing with [The Wizard of] Oz earlier this summer, I’m not sure it turned out that well.”
On the other hand, Ege Yalcindag (II), a big fan of the movie, says about the live show, “I really liked it. I think Julianne Hough is a really good dancer, so I was super happy with her character. I also think Aaron Tveit was really good as Danny because his singing was so good. I was really excited about Keke Palmer’s new song because I really like her voice. Plus, in the actual play, they don’t really have any black characters, and in this one a black character was one of the main characters, so that was awesome. I also think they did the musical almost word for word with the original. It was really close. Even the dancing sometimes was basically the same.”
Henry Westerman (II) also enjoyed aspects of the production. “I thought the costume design was great; the costumes were so accurate to the original. I also liked the singing and dancing. I don’t like the story, though. I think the message is flawed.”
Whether you loved it or hated it, it’s hard to deny that Grease: Live!, with a cast and crew of over 400 people and a live audience of 650, set the bar high for future television musicals.
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