By Colleen Rockwell ‘18
The production of Grease: Live! premiered on Jan. 31. The live production starred Julianne Hough as Sandy and Aaron Tveit as Danny Zuko, the primary characters of the musical. Carly Rae Jepson starred as Frenchy and Keke Palmer starred as Marty, two of the Pink Ladies. Both Jepson and Palmer played their parts very well.
The actress who played Rizzo was Vanessa Hudgens and she killed it. Hudgens is known for her role in the High School Musical series as the good girl, and it was nice to see her break out and play a tough character, however this was a once in a lifetime performance for the 27-year-old because hours before the musical was to air live, Hudgens shared via Twitter that her father, Greg, passed away of cancer the day prior. Hudgens reassured fans that she would still perform as Rizzo in honor of her father.
Since this show was adapted from the movie, there were many changes that avid Grease fans noticed throughout the three-hour show. Sandy was now from Utah instead of Australia, which makes since because Hough is not Australian. Palmer’s character Marty had her own song called Freddy, My Love and Jepson had her own number, as well, which was All I Need Is an Angel. These two new numbers illustrated that this production may be Grease, but it is their own version of the musical.
Because of the live performance, there were some issues with the sound. Voices could have been louder against the instruments. Then again, with live productions of any musical, problems will most likely always occur.
Hough was amazing in her role as Sandy. Hough’s version of Hopelessly Devoted to You was amazing because it was familiar to the original version that Olivia Newton John sang in the film adaptation. Aaron Tveit was surprisingly a great fit for the role of Danny Zuko, as well. Tveit may not be John Travolta, but he made the role his own; as any good actor would do to a role that has been played before by an iconic actor.
What makes FOX’s live musical different from NBC’s live versions is that part of the film was filmed outside. When the show started, singer Jessie J sang the theme, Grease (Is the Word) and she went through the backstage to the dressing rooms where the cast was getting ready to the outside. She strolled through the soundstage to the set for the first scene. It was nice seeing what the backstage looked like and to see what was happening in between scenes because audiences who watch NBC’s live musicals have never seen that before.
The end of the musical had to be the best. After Hough and Tveit sang You’re the One That I Want, the cast exited the soundstage and boarded golf carts to drive through the outside of the studio. After the drive through Warner Bros. Studios, where the live production was filmed, the cast ended up at a little carnival that was set up for the last number. The cast performed We Go Together outside, which looked like a lot of fun to perform.
Grease: Live! may not be exactly like the film version, but audiences will be surprised that the new actors and actresses brought these beloved characters alive once more in their own way, and it ended up being a spectacular show.