Peachy keen, jelly bean! Since Fox announced plans to remake the classic musical two years ago, Grease has been the word that everybody’s heard. Finally, on Sunday, January 31, Grease: Live arrived.
Viewers were clearly impressed with the results, as screams from the lucky fans watching on set were sometimes as loud as the music! So, what made the three-hour production the living end? Well, let us tell you about its 10 most memorable moments, stud!
Vanessa Hudgens Razzled and Dazzled as Rizzo
This star gets her own entry on the list because not only did she totally nail her performance but she did it just one day after her father's death from cancer. Starring as the hard-as-nails Rizzo, Vanessa Hudgens, 27, created a character who was bold and unflinchingly fierce while still showing some vulnerability, which was pretty fitting, considering.
In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if a proud tear or two made their way down the face of the original 1978 film's Rizzo, Stockard Channing, particularly during the Spring Breakers actress' powerful performance of the ballad “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”
Every Character Was a Star
Hudgens wasn’t the only standout in the show, of course; the whole cast was full of talented actors who made their characters unforgettable.
Dancing with the Stars judge Julianne Hough took on the role of Sandy, while Broadway veteran Aaron Tveit tackled Danny, and they went together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong! Marty arguably made Keke Palmer the breakout performer, while Carly Rae Jepsen's syrupy-sweet take on Frenchy was super fun. Patty Simcox (Elle McLemore) was delightfully manic and only got more unhinged as the production progressed. Mrs. Murdock — played by Eve Plumb of Brady Bunch fame! — had a history in prison and a convent. What a crew!
The Music Was Systematic, Hydromatic, Ultramatic … It Coasted Through the Heat Lap Trial and Beyond
The musical performances were the most, to say the least, starting with Jessie J’s killer rendition of the original film’s opening number, “Grease Is the Word,” as dancers holding umbrellas twirled around her trying not to get drenched in the rain. The first morning announcement was also surprisingly fun: From the choir member in a neck brace straining to sing, to Principal McGee (Ana Gasteyer) and her assistant Blanche (Haneefah Wood) belting some very impressive runs, they were better than any morning announcement we ever got in high school!
While everyone will be talking about “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and “Greased Lightnin’” for a while, “Those Magic Changes” deserves a special mention, too, because the harmonies sung by newcomer Jordan Fisher (Doody) and Tveit were one of the best parts of the show.
The Jokes Got Kinda Meta
The music was great, but so was the writing by Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary, who expanded on the original writers’ wit. From Frenchy exclaiming, “We girls gotta be our own people, like they tell us in home ec!” to one of the Pink Ladies swooning that Sandy’s mystery boyfriend sounded like “marriage material — like Rock Hudson!”
Tolins and Cary wove in jokes that relied on the audience’s contextual knowledge of pop culture history. They even poked fun at themselves, writing in the lines, “You know TV — they’ll do any cheap stunt to get people to watch!” and “I wish we could watch a movie at home, any time we wanted!”
Intolerance Got a Sandy-Level Makeover
Some of the lines that were acceptable when the movie came out in the 1970s wouldn’t fly with modern first-time audiences, and the writers commendably opted to be a little more tolerant this time around. For instance, the line during the dance competition declaring that same-sex couples were banned was cut in favor of one outlawing “solos and threesomes.”
Similarly, a line about Jan (Kether Donohue) being fat was replaced with a jab about her being “weird.” Progress! Some changes, like Sandy being from Salt Lake City instead of Australia, were made just to set this version apart (though that was also a nod to Hough’s real-life Utah upbringing).
The Dancers Were Born to Hand Jive, Baby
Like Vince Fontaine (Mario Lopez) said, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; it’s what you do with your dancin’ shoes!” and did the cast ever win with theirs. “Summer Nights’” had fun choreography that drew heavily on the original moves popularized by John Travolta.
The cheerleading try-outs were a cool new addition that kept the audience totally on edge, and fan favorite “Greased Lightnin’” had some of the most intense dancing and got the loudest screams from the audience. Finally, as expected, the competition for National Bandstand was a scene of nonstop action that likely made viewers feel breathless.
“Freddy, My Love” Was Lovely
One song that stood out as a huge winner for the night was “Freddy, My Love" because the cast, designers and writers all made something out of an otherwise-unremarkable tune, with Palmer leading the way.
In an awesome twist that the set and costume designers deserve endless credit for, the simple scene that usually takes place in Frenchy’s bedroom moved to a USO-themed runway while Palmer strutted around in a sequined red dress and proved she came to play in the big leagues occupied by Hough and Hudgens.
The Modern Sets Looked Perfectly Vintage
Thanks to Us Weekly's exclusive interview with the stars of Grease: Live, we already knew that the set was going to be huge and intricate, but it didn’t fully make sense until the show aired, and we got to see it on screen. The filming took place across three sound stages, so the cast and crew spent their time running back and forth between them but never sounded out of breath!
The design impressed too. As evidenced by Frenchy’s bedroom, even locations that were used as the setting of only one scene were given plenty of details, like posters on the walls, clothes on the floor and makeup on the vanity.
Pardon Our French: Jepsen and Didi Conn Were Damn Good
By far one of the best scenes arrived with Didi Conn, the original Frenchy, playing beloved waitress Vi. When she and Jepsen shared the stage, it was magic, especially following reports that Conn had sent Jepsen her original Frenchy jacket and locket before the production. The importance of the two Frenchys wasn’t lost on fans:
Watching old Frenchy with new Frenchy on my screen is making me a little emotional?? #GreaseLive
— Lindsey Ellefson (@ellefs0n) February 1, 2016
"How do you like waitressing?" Frenchy asks Didi Conn. "You're too young to know." That's some Hollywood pathos right there. #GreaseLive
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) February 1, 2016
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) February 1, 2016
The Ending Was Triumphant as Ever — Even If It Didn't Literally Soar
One of the most famous parts of Grease is the end scene, when it is revealed that Danny lettered in track to impress Sandy and she got a makeover to impress him, right before they fly away in a magical car. While there was no flying this time, the ending was just as exciting.
Though rain was evident in the earlier scenes and fans were left worrying that the much-hyped outdoor shots would all be ruined, the cast was able to do their final number and curtain call outside at a real carnival!
Overall, the production went off without a hitch (well, after audio problems during the East Coast airing were corrected), undoubtedly breeding a whole new generation of hopelessly devoted fans.
Tell Us: What did you think of Grease: Live?
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