Why "Grease Live" Was The TV Musical We've Been Waiting For
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Why "Grease Live" Was The TV Musical We've Been Waiting For

And it's about damn time!

Why "Grease Live" Was The TV Musical We've Been Waiting For

On January 31st, America tuned in for yet another live televised musical, "Grease Live" on Fox. I won't lie, I've been let down by the NBC specials in the past, since they were over-hyped and awkward to watch, often starring some lackluster people. I never thought I would ever say this, but Fox absolutely changed the game and showed us why this is such a good idea in the first place.

1. The live nature of the performance

Thank you director Thomas Kail for recognizing that we’re not stupid enough to be convinced that Danny and Sandy were really at the ocean for the first shot of the special. By panning away from the shot to reveal the behind the scenes setup, the shots of the cast running to quick changes, and taking golf carts to different sound stages, it restored what we love about live theatre. We want to see something live and dangerous, where mistakes can happen.

2. The use of real Broadway performers

Yes. Thank you, "Grease," for finally realizing what NBC failed to understand when they started these live specials: Bring in the big guns. While Aaron Tveit is a household name for musical theatre fans, he’s not as well known to the American public as… let’s say… Carrie Underwood. However, instead of fearing that a lesser-known Danny Zuko would attract fewer viewers, Fox went with their gut and got us a Danny who could deliver. And ladies, let’s agree. He delivered.

3. The Surprises

Keke Palmer’s dress transformation. An indoor carnival at the gym that transitioned into a real life outdoor carnival. The original Frenchy exclaiming "I miss high school!" as she watched the Rydell seniors hand jive on the tiny diner TV. The show was filled with wow moments that reminded us just how unpredictable live theatre really is.

4. The live audience hyping up the energy

Thank you, FOX for finally realizing what all these live shows were missing! By incorporating the live audience into the background of the scenes it only hyped up the energy. They added the cheers and background noise that every scene needed to make it feel like the live experience we’ve all been waiting for. And dressing the audience up to fit the scenes, like all the male audience members dressed like sailors at the USO show? Cheeky, cute touch.

5. Doody’s big break

Jordan Fisher was so under the radar until now. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. The musical theatre cute boy has been known by pre-teens for his work in the "Teen Beach" movie, but this was his first gig in the really public eye. And he. Killed. It.

6. Sandy’s transformation

One big problem a lot of people have with "Grease" is the idea that Sandy changes her appearance at the end to fit what Danny wants. "Grease Live" added a few extra lines to give her transformation a different angle. In the drive-in scene, Sandy explains she didn’t want to be on camera because her parents forbid her from going to the dance in the first place, meaning Sandy is a goody goody because her parents wouldn’t let her be anything else! This subtle change made her transformation seem less random, and the script indicates that Sandy is perhaps taking charge of her life by breaking what her parents want for her, instead of succumbing to someone else’s image for her.

7. Vanessa Hudgens' versatility and strength

On January 30th, 2016, Vanessa Hudgens’ father Greg passed away from cancer. This was the ultimate curveball from our beloved Gabriella Montez, as she had to go on the next night in a live broadcast on national television. However, she handled the part with grace and strength in these unimaginable circumstances. Thank you, Vanessa, for proving to us all that the show must go on.

8. Julianne Hough worked for her triple threat

TV is so over-saturated with people who are just born with unbelievable talents, and it leaves many of us in the performing arts feeling a bit hopeless. Now although Julianne Hough has been dancing forever, musical theatre has really not been her field until recently. While Hough absolutely nailed "Hopelessly Devoted to You," we noticed parts of "Summer Nights" where her pitches may not have been spot on, but we actually liked this about her. For the first time in a while we’ve seen someone simultaneously nail it while proving they had to work for this. Thank you, Julianne, for all the practice you obviously poured into this production, to prove to all of us that we too could do something like this someday.

9. The complete color blind casting

This was not the "Grease" we’re used to. As the Rydell seniors started their first day of their last year, we immediately saw a change from the 1978 version. The T Bird men were racially diverse, and sassy and powerful Keke Palmer was rocking the pink ladies. Even the first shot of the principal’s office had Ana Gasteyer representing the typical white administrator, but with her best friend Blanche, played by Haneefa Wood, by her side.

10. We go together

Thanks to the ensemble and full company of "Grease Live" for giving us what was so clearly a united and fantastic production. Here’s to happy theatre collaboration, folks; it kept us smiling the whole way through.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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