Just Groovin'

Grease is the word...

While Grease Live! won’t make anyone forget the original film any time soon, it sure was a fun ride. It certainly couldn’t have been easy figuring out a way to placate the legions of fans of the original movie while also bridging the gap between live television and theatre. The hybrid staging technique that was employed saw this show spread across multiple stages and incorporated seamless costume and set changes. They did a lovely job in paying homage to both the film and theatrical productions. Unlike previous forays into live musicals, Grease Live! had a participatory audience whose response, at the very least, helped to keep the actors on point throughout. Some technical glitches during live tv events are inevitable. The sound went out during a portion of the big dance number ‘Hand Jive’ and there was a lot of static during ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ to the detriment of the former but not so much the latter since I’m not a huge fan of HDTY anyway. But those were small problems in a production that was otherwise spot on.

I realize that this was live…but was it live with lip-sync? That I do not know but for the sake of my review I’m going to go with fully live (no lip-sync).

So we have to inevitably compare Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough to the somewhat legendary John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John who owned the original roles. Vocally – Aaron > JT and ONJ > Julianne. I cringe whenever I hear JT sing ‘Sandy’. I can’t say as I particularly like JT’s version of ‘Summer Nights’ either. I had zero problems with Aaron’s version…although I couldn’t hear him well enough during my fav song - ‘Greased Lightning’. I normally zone out on most of Sandy’s solo songs but for the most part I thought Julianne was okay. As for the dancing – I’d probably flip flop my rankings – there is no second guessing here that Julianne is the better dancer…and arguably JT was better than Aaron…but then again, I don’t think that is so much a reflection of their dancing ability, more so the choreography that they were presented to work with. Let’s move on to acting…where I think both JT and ONJ did a better job…BUT they weren’t performing live. So basically the movie gave us the very best of what could potentially have been hundreds of takes. And let’s just put that all into perspective – JT and ONJ did not have to sing or dance live – they could screw up a billion times but the one perfect take is the one that went to print. For that reason, I have to praise Aaron and Julianne for what was one hell of a performance. Again, when it comes to Aaron, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that he is from a musical theatre background; I only know him from the crime drama Graceland. That said, after watching his performance, I now need to see him on Broadway…add that to the bucket list.

I can’t say as I enjoyed Mario Lopez doing double duty as both an “on stage” performer and a “behind the scenes” host – it was very jarring and completely took you out of the production. He did a great job as Vince Fontaine but I could have done without those needless bts reports. If I want to see more about ‘the making of’, I don’t need to see it in the middle of the show itself – I’ll find it on Youtube later. I loved Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. She did a fantastic job – especially with ‘There are Worse Things I Could Do’. Carly Rae Jepsen was cute as Frenchie and yay for Jan Brady as Mrs. Murdock. On the whole though, I don’t think any of the performers had the swagger and bravado of the movie originals. While the Pink Ladies were passable, the T-Birds didn’t have that intimidation factor you would expect from a gang. As was later realized through Eugene, the T-Birds were really only one leather jacket away from being nerds. At least the Live! cast seemed more age-appropriate as high schoolers...except Aaron (LOL...sorry, Aaron). The movie cast all looked as though they should be in or graduated from college.

Most importantly, I have to ask…where were the dancing condiments??? And what was with the excessive censorship of what, in my opinion, are not risqué lyrics??? I mean, really??? Dragon wagon??? Is this the same network that will be handling The Rocky Horror Picture Show live next fall? Good luck censoring that one…

Ah well, I honestly didn’t expect Grease Live! to be as good as it turned out. They have just set the bar for live tv theatre. Hopefully one day will be Jesus Christ Superstar (Jared Leto as Jesus, Lenny Kravitz as Judas, George Blagden as Peter, Colin O’Donoghue as Pilate, John Barrowman as Herod and TBA as Mary Magdalen…ahh, I’m certain I’m forgetting someone…*volunteers to play Claudia Procula*)
  • Current Location: My Office
  • Current Mood: bouncy bouncy
  • Current Music: Grease: Jessie J