Grease Live: A New Kind of Musical Experience

Grease Live premiered on January 31 at 7 pm Eastern on Fox Network. Over 12 million viewers tuned in to watch this production, which featured major celebrities Jessie J, Carlos Pena, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, Julianne Hough, Keke Palmer, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Joe Jonas, among many others. These televised, one-stage theatrical productions have proved to be a big hit among viewers across the world, and Grease is the second most viewed of the musicals broadcasted live, following NBC’s production of The Sound of Music.

Right off the bat, viewers of Grease Live were watching a production very different from previous live performances such as The Wiz and Peter Pan. In contrast to these other performances, Grease actually had a live audience on set, which I personally felt added to the overall viewing of the show.

The performance began when Aaron Tveit, who played bad boy Danny Zuko, and Julianne Hough as Sandy, shared a love sequence and said their final goodbyes of the summer. Following this brief yet sweet moment between Tveit and Hough, Jessie J strutted onstage, belting the Grease theme song across the Warner Brothers Pictures lot, and she her presence onscreen was fantastic. She exuded confidence and sass while singing. Immediately after Jessie’s excellent performance, the school bell of Rydell High rang loudly, and the camera followed the members of the T-Birds into the halls of the school.

The angles and movement of the cameras in this production were much different than previous broadcasted musicals, and quite frankly they took away from the whole “musical feel.” The Pink Ladies were introduced shortly after the T-Birds, and every one of them was perfectly casted. Frenchie, played by Carly Rae Jepsen, then stumbled upon the beautiful and charming Sandy, From there, the girls’ friendship blossomed as Sandy is introduced to the Pink Ladies.

The cast’s dancing skills in this production blew audiences away. Aaron Tveit really stood out during the scene in the gym of Rydell High, when Joe Jonas, as Johnny Casino, came onstage to sing “Cake By the Ocean,” “Maybe (Baby),” and “Born to Hand Jive.” Hough had her shining moment during the song “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” She hit each and every note flawlessly. Vanessa Hudgens, whose father had actually passed away the day of this production, left viewers in a stupor with her performance of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” She brought so much emotion to the song, and what made it so jaw-dropping was how effortless she made it look. Round of applause, Vanessa.

As the show progressed, the characters were clearly moving from set to set. The backgrounds of each scene were simply too elaborate to take place on just one stage. Personally, this took away from the overall performance, as I was expecting Grease Live to be more of a musical taking place on a stage rather than a live movie. That said, the ending sequence of Grease Live looked extremely fun. I could not help myself from smiling excessively, and I proceeded to sing and dance along with the cast. Grease Live was not what I expected, and although I was not a fan of the altering sets and camera angles, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this show and I am looking forward to FOX’s next live musical.

Kathryn Kearney
staff writer

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