Grease was the word on Sunday, when “Grease: Live!” premiered on Fox.
Directed by Thomas Kail (director of “Hamilton”), the live event was adapted for television based on the 1978 film. Musician Jessie J kicked off the night with her soulful cover of “Grease Is the Word,” moving through the multiple sets and dancing with the cast.
The performance starred celebrities such as Julianne Hough (“Safe Haven,” “Footloose”) as Sandy, Aaron Tviet (“Les Miserables”) as Danny, and Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical,” “Sucker Punch”) as Rizzo.
Mario Lopez showed up as Vince Fontaine, Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy, and “Saturday Night Live” veteran Ana Gasteyer as Principal Mcgee, along with a few lesser-known but incredibly talented individuals.
Keke Palmer (“Scream Queens”) wowed audiences with her rendition of “Freddy My Love” in her role as Marty Maraschino, and Jordan Fisher wooed the ladies in the live audience as Doody with his guitar and phenomenal voice.
Real “Grease” fans would notice that two members of the original 1978 movie cast came to join the fun. DiDi Conn, the original Frenchy played Vi, the malt shop waitress, while Barry Pearl, the original Doody played a T.V. producer for American Bandstand.
A few musical guest appearances joined the cast, with Boys II Men serenading Frenchy in “Beauty School Drop Out” and DNCE playing Johnny Casino and The Gamblers for the dance competition. Joe Jonas was a great fit to sing “Born To Hand Jive”.
Though most of the event stayed true to the original “Grease” script, a few things were changed. Small things, like Sandy being from Salt Lake City instead of Australia, the addition of a cheer-leading dance-off between Sandy and Patty Simcox, as well as a few inevitable technical errors. The costumes were incredible, staying very true to the original film and 1950’s style.
This cast is extremely talented. Each of the actors embodied their characters perfectly, from attitude to movement. The chemistry between Hough and Tviet was undeniable, as they worked great together. One could really feel the connection between them as Sandy and Danny. Hough nailed “Hopelessly Devoted” perfectly, and Tviet’s smooth vocals captured Danny’s attitude in “Grease Lightnin’”.
One can see how much work the entire cast put into this production. From the choreography to the vocals, it all flowed naturally. Despite running between at least six different sets, multiple costume changes and El Nino making the outdoor scenes difficult and wet, these actors would never let you know they were exhausted.
Perhaps the most talked about performance was Vanessa Hudgens, not only because she played a fantastic Betty Rizzo, but because only hours before “Grease: Live!” was filmed, her father passed away from cancer.
Hudgens tweeted the announcement and said she would be “doing the show in his honor.” Her incredible rendition of “There Are Worse Things (I Could Do)” was especially emotional knowing what Hudgens had been through that same day. After the cast took their final bow and the credits rolled, Fox dedicated the production to Hudgens’ father.
The event wrapped with the gang in the school gym at the end of the year fair. Cast members could be seen running outside to golf carts waiting to take them to the live audience for the final dance number, “We Go Together.” One could feel a lot of unity in the cast, as it was more like a bunch of old friends having fun during filming and between takes.