TV Review: Grease Live (2016)

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Music, Romance
Tags: , , ,

grease live

After a summer romance, Greaser Danny Zuko (Aaron Tvelt) and good girl Sandy (Julianne Hough) re-unite unexpectedly at Rydell High, after Sandy moves from Utah.  Danny initially ignores Sandy, and hides his true feelings for her.  Sandy has lots of competition for Danny’s affections, Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens) Cha-Cha (Yvette Gonzales) and even head cheerleader Patty Simcox, (Elle McLemore) are interested in Danny, but Sandy is hardly alone.  She finds comfort with football prayer Tom Chisum. (Jon Robert Hall)  Sandy also tries out for the cheerleading squad and wants to befriend Rizzo,(Vanessa Hudgens)  and her group of besties the Pink Ladies. Danny is also challenged to a drag race with rival gang the Scorpions, and the school may host nationally syndicated music show National Bandstand.  Will Danny turn a junker car into Greased Lightning in time for the race with the Scorpions?  Will he have the courage to ask Sandy to the dance if Rydell hosts National Bandstand?

After NBC scored big ratings with Broadway musical adaptations of The Sound of Music and The Wiz, Fox has produced an adaptation of the Broadway play and big-screen movie Grease. The story is a pretty standard issue romantic comedy with comedy and music, I have watched neither the movie or the Broadway play, so the story wasn’t very familiar, but the ending was expected, and this version of Grease seemed very, very, long at three hours, and at times it seemed more like an endurance test than a romantic musical.

The acting and singing was mostly good.  I was disappointed in Aaron Tvelt as Danny, his on-again off again New York tough guy accent, his singing style also seemed too smooth to be playing street tough Danny Zuko.  I was mostly pleasantly surprised by Julianne Hough’s singing and acting abilities, but both seemed to drop off as the performance went on, and her performances of “Hopelessly Devoted  to You” and “You’re The One That I Want” simply don’t measure up to Olivia Newton-John’s renditions of those songs.  There didn’t seem to be enough chemistry between Tvelt and Hough, and that hurt this version tremendously.  Vanessa Hudgens gave perhaps the best performance in the cast, adding complexity and poignancy to Rizzo, her singing voice was as good as her acting.  Keke Palmer was surprisingly good as Marty, I didn’t even know she could sing, but she knocked “Freddy My Love” out of the park.  Carly Rae Jepson and newcomer Jordan Fisher were also good, although I did not like Jepson’s new song , “All I Need Is An Angel.” It seemed out of place in a 1950’s themed musical.  “Those Magic Changes” by Fisher was outstanding. Elle McLemore and Kether Donohue round out a cast full of talented newcomers. .  Anna Gasteyer of SNL added some much needed comedy, and it was nice to see Didi Conn from the 1978 movie.

The staging of this musical was superb, there were lots of complex set decorations, and fast costume changes, other than a camera slip on the Greased Lightning number, this show had flawless production values.  The pacing was a little slow at times, which made a long show, 3 hours seemed all the more long.  This is a surprise because the director, Thomas Kail, is the director of the Broadway smash “Hamilton.”

Grease Live!  Slick production values make up for any misgivings.

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