Two posts within 24 hours. I’m on a roll!! The hype around “Grease: Live” has been crazy for the past few months. Since I am a HUGE fan of the movie, I decided to give it a chance. I took some notes so prepare yourselves. 😉
Jessie J opened the production with her interpretation of “Grease is the Word.” Her voice paired beautifully with the classic melody.
Moving on to the individual performances. Kether Donohue did a great job capturing Jan’s quirkiness. At first, Keke Palmer’s version of Marty felt overacted and unnatural, but the bumps smoothed out as the performance went on. Carly Rae Jepsen played the beloved Frenchy. I think she did a good job, but the solo vocal performance lacked strength. Rizzo is a hard character to recreate because there are only two options: a hit or a miss. There is no getting by with an okay performance. Vanessa Hudgens did an amazing job! She captured the attitude, and her voice suited Rizzo’s songs. Nothing about it felt uncomfortable or overdone. That brings us to Julianne Hough A.K.A. Sandy. She captured the sickeningly sweet, pure persona of Sandy, but it felt genuine. Her voice carried the songs with equal parts strength and grace. She was unique but also the spitting image of the one and only Olivia Newton-John.
Don’t forget the boys! The ladies did a great job overall, but the T-Birds stole the show. Andrew Call (Sonny), Carlos PenaVega (Kenickie), David Del Rio (Putzie), and Jordan Fisher (Doody) had natural chemistry. I found myself smiling and laughing during every T-Birds scene. Unfortunately, I was less keen on their leader Danny Zuko played by Aaron Tveit. With his theater background, I expected a lot more from the performance. His singing was great, but the character felt one-dimensional. The softer side of Danny was present, but the tough, T-Bird side was lackluster. Danny felt too sweet and not at all a cool high school student in the 5os.
Let’s not forget the supporting cast! Some of the performances were a pleasant surprise, but I will start with the negative. The leading Scorpion couple should have felt slightly exaggerated and tough, and they didn’t. I barely remember Sam Clark’s performance as Leo, and Cha-Cha’s (Yvette Gonzalez Nacer) dancing felt like a letdown, although that could have been due to lack of choreography. They are small but significant parts that needed more attention. On the middle of the scale, Wendell Pierce and Noah Robbins did a good job as Coach Calhoun and Eugene respectively. There were some familiar faces in the supporting cast. Eve Plumb, formerly known as Jan on “The Brady Bunch”, played auto shop teacher Mrs. Murdock. Didi Conn, the original Frenchy, played waitress Vi. Both performances were charming and a good dose of nostalgia. Vi’s line “I miss high school” made me cry! Last but not least, the superstars. Elle McLemore was amazing as Patty Simcox. She played up all the characteristics that we love to hate. A match made in heaven! I have always loved Ana Gasteyer, and her performance as Principal McGee only reaffirmed my appreciation for her many talents. Adding on to that, her chemistry with Haneefah Wood (Blanche) was seamless and never void of producing laughs.
For the most part, the musical performances were a well-oiled machine and fun to watch. Unfortunately, the two I did not like featured special guests. The scene in which Frenchy’s one and only solo transitions into Baha II Men singing “Beauty School Dropout” felt like a weak link. Nothing ever fell into place. The second lackluster performance was that of DNCE A.K.A. Johnny Casino and the Gamblers. I did not like the first song. It felt like a modern band performing an old song last minute. I hate to say that, but it’s true! However, the music did improve with the songs that followed.
Did anyone else think the hand jive was weird? I’m not sure if that is the way it’s done in the stage performances, but it looked like everyone was flailing their hands because they didn’t know what they were doing. I know that’s not true, but that’s what it looked like.
Shout-out to the cart driver that went up a curb and scared his cast member passengers during the finale. They had just finished a live television musical, and an almost accident was just what they needed. I joke because I care. I’m sure that was really embarrassing for him, but seriously, next time don’t get caught up in the music and focus on driving on the actual street.
It was really sweet of FOX to honor the memory of Vanessa Hudgen’s late father. My heart and prayers are with the Hudgens family. ❤
A lot of thought was given to adding modern flair to the production but keeping the original “Grease” spirit alive. I could feel the blood, sweat, tears, and heart that went into this performance. For the first time, I genuinely enjoyed a live television musical. 3 out of 5 stars. Brava!
Watch some of the performances here:
For more information on “Grease: Live” – http://www.fox.com/grease-live
Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.
– Lauren Michele ❤
Sign Up For MyWebRoom: http://www.mywebroom.com
Lauren Michele’s MyWebRoom: http://www.mywebroom.com/room/laurenmicheleonline/#
Personal Blog: https://laurenmichelepoetry.wordpress.com