Here’s a little known fact about me: I am a rather large fan of musicals. I think it’s hard to find a more well-rounded form of entertainment.
Recently, I’ve found that TV is getting rather stagnant, with unoriginal shows, and sheer lack of diversity in most broadcaster’s line-ups. Therefore, I was grateful when I heard that FOX was to broadcast a live production based off of the 1978 musical, Grease. Clearly I wasn’t the only one clamouring for a change in the content available, as FOX’s Grease: Live was watched by 12.2million viewers, beating NBC’s productions of The Wiz and Peter Pan.
With hope and anticipation I tuned into Grease: Live and I was immediately reeled in by a cute, but cheesy scene between Danny (played by Aaron Tveit) and Sandy (played by Julianne Hough) then leading into the first track performed by Jessie J as she was making her way around the set backstage, running into most of the cast members, including the Pink Ladies. This was a great and energetic way to kick-off the live broadcast and the pace didn’t slow down at all throughout the entire production.
I would love to give major props to Vanessa Hudgens, who performed as Rizzo less than 24 hours after hearing of her father’s death to cancer. She epitomised the saying ‘The show must go on’, and boy it did! Hudgens as Rizzo was a revelation. I must admit that when I first heard this piece of casting, I was unsure, but I could not have been any more wrong. Hudgens may have been born to play this role. Not only were her vocals in ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ exceptional, but everything she did; her voice, her facial expressions, her mannerisms all encapsulated Rizzo.
However, she isn’t the only member of the cast that deserves high praise. They all do. Grease: Live was one of those rare occasions where I don’t believe there was a single weak link in the cast. It seems to me that everyone understood their characters expertly and played their role to perfection. Julianne Hough’s Sandy was innocent and strong-willed. Aaron Tveit’s Danny Zuko was bad-ass bad-boy with a heart of gold. Keke Palmer’s Marty was wonderfully exuberant, sultry and dramatic. Carlos PenaVega’s Kenickie was naughty and loving with a great set of pipes. Everyone else was superb as well, but this would get very boring, very quickly if I named every member of the cast (which had over 600 people- thanks for that little fact Vince Fontaine- I mean, Mario Lopez). Basically, the casting here was spot-on.
Lets talk about the choreography. Wow. This was astonishingly good. All the dance moves were crisp and brilliantly structured. The dance contest in Rydell High hall, whilst ‘Born To Hand Jive’ was playing, was fantastic. There was dancing going on everywhere. I couldn’t decide who to focus on! This just shows the quality and time the cast and crew put into making this whole production come together- and it all totally pays off.
Another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed about this production was that there was a live studio audience. I’m not too sure why, but this adds to the excitement for me watching at home. I wish I could explore this point further, but I really don’t know how. All I know is that I really loved having a live audience there.
I have just one problem with Grease: Live and that was the song ‘All I Need Is An Angel’, which was performed by Carly Rae Jepsen’s Frenchie. This was a brand new song, created especially for this production. To be perfectly honest, I would’ve preferred this to be left out. The didn’t fit with the rest of the tracks; it didn’t have that 50’s vibe to it. It felt far too modern for a musical set in the 50’s. However, that isn’t my only problem with the song. I felt like the song was too powerful for Jepsen’s vocal range and she just ended up getting drowned out. Don’t get me wrong, she has a wonderful tone to her voice, but she just couldn’t hit some of the harder notes, which made parts of the song sound a tad flat.
My Favourite Performance: I honestly can’t decide. A tie between ‘You’re The One That I Want’ and ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’.
My Least Favourite Performance: ‘All I Need Is An Angel’.
All in all, I would say that Grease: Live was a massive success. I hope and pray that FOX make this an annual thing and we can see more fantastic musicals brought live onto the silver screen!