I was pleasantly surprised at how this musical turned out.
When I first heard that they were going to be doing a live version of Grease, I wasn’t to optimistic because, let’s be honest, every time someone does a remake, it ends up sucking, but this was actually pretty good. The singing, acting and dancing were all on point and I loved the cast.
I think Julianne Hough (Sandy) did a great job. She’s a dancer and a judge on Dancing with the Stars, so I knew that her dancing would be amazing. She also acted in a couple films, one being Footloose, so I knew that she could act, but her singing is what I was most skeptical about. She came out with music album a couple years ago and I wasn’t a fan because I didn’t like her voice, but after watching Grease: Live, I have to say that she really impressed me. She was a great Sandy and she actually looked like Olivia Newton-John did when she played the role.
Another actress that stuck out to me was Vanessa Hudgens (Rizzo). She really embodied Rizzo’s personality and I loved it. In my opinion, Vanessa doesn’t have a very strong voice, but she also surprised me with her performance last night. Carly Rae Jepsen (Frenchy), Keke Palmer (Marty), Kether Donohue (Jan) and all the T-Birds were oaky because they didn’t stand out to me. They faded to the background and the song that they had Frenchy sing wasn’t good either. However, I did like Jordan Fisher’s (Doody) redemption of “Those Magic Changes.” I also liked Elle McLemore (Patty Simcox). She really embodied her character, as well. They writers added a little bit more to Patty’s character. Some of the things that she did in the live version, she didn’t do in the original film and that’s another thing that I liked about the musical, as a whole.
I was wondering how they were going to add to show because I knew they weren’t going to make it an exact replica to the 1978 version, especially with it being 70 minutes longer, but I was curious about what they were going to add. They added a song or two and rearranged the placement of one of my favorite songs in the whole musical (“Hopelessly Devoted To You”) and, as I said earlier, they added a little bit more depth to a couple characters.
They also added a couple real life musical artists to participate in the musical. They chose Jessie J, Boyz II Men and Joe Jonas and his group DNCE. They opened with Jessie J singing “Grease.” She was good; typical Jessie J. Joe and his group didn’t get a lot of camera time because they were on stage performing at the National Dance Off. He sounded good too. Boyz II Men, on the other hand, could have done better. They sang “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchy and I wasn’t impressed. They’re voices are great, of course, but Wanya Morris was doing too much riffing. It sounded cool at the beginning, but as the song went on I was saying, “Just sing the word!” In my opinion, he over did it and their dancing looked off as well. They didn’t have everything down and you could tell that they were struggling to count their steps.
I also didn’t care for Aaron Tveit (Danny Zuko). He didn’t have the bravado that’s needed to play a character like Danny. He just fell flat to me. His energy wasn’t there and neither was his singing. However, Mario Lopez’s take on Vince Fontaine was comical. I wonder how long it took him to get Vince’s famous line down.
One thing that this live show had that The Wiz and The Sound of Music didn’t have was the behind the scene access snippets. Right before the commercials, they let the viewers see the characters running off from scene to scene and we also got to hear about how their wardrobe was made, how the crew tapes and how they filmed that famous race between the T-Birds and the Scorpions. It added a little extra and we got to see the relationships that the cast and crew formed over the course of rehearsing and filming. It was nice.
So, with all that being said, it was really good and I would probably watch it again. They definitely put more work into Grease: Live than they did The Wiz and The Sound of Music.