Ever since Fox first announced Grease:Live! we have been waiting eagerly for the musical to hit our screens, and boy they did not disappoint.
The show kicks off with the recreation of the beach scene between Danny and Sandy, against a horrific green screen (much like the movie). Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough already encapsulate their characters impressively, and the green screen horror is relieved once the camera pans, showing the pair run to the next set from the artificial backdrop.
As they run outside the one-off event truly bursts onto our screens with Jessie J singing a rendition of ‘Grease is the Word’ making her way through the extensive set that spanned 20 acres of studio set, spectacularly performing in spite of the torrential wind and rain.
From the very beginning, the grand scale of the impressive production was evident and the massive audience were lively and enthusiastically cheering along. We saw a behind the scene glimpse of the numerous sets and 600 strong cast and crew chaotically running around, dodging golf buggies and dancers left and right.
The plot plays out almost scene for scene like the original, though fans of the movie will notice a few tweaks throughout. Largely concerning lyric reworking to make the already PG script more family-friendly.
As we get into the story we have our first look at our new T-birds, the energy is high and the boys are charismatic, though their personalities are less vivid than the girls. We also meet love rat Danny Zuko, while Tveit is gorgeous and charismatic yet even with his many Broadway roles boasting his musical theatre abilities, he fails to reach the iconic role set by John Travolta. Carlos PenaVega displays a more sensitive and timid character, hiding behind a tough guy front. The layering is effective, and his bromance with enigmatic. Plus he is majorly hot.
Now we meet the rejuvenated pink ladies. Jan is much more kooky than previously, though it brings the laughs from such a minor character. Keke Palmer, while a capable actress, overacts largely with a peculiar accent that distracts from the performance. Though her reinvention of the character is likely the most drastic. Seemingly out of nowhere Carly Rae Jepson proves she has acting chops however she lacks the charm of our original fave Frenchie, even though she echoes the accent pitch perfectly. She perhaps would have been better suited to a smaller role, like Jan.
Julianne Hough take centre stage as Sandy, and though we had our reservations following the cast announcements following her work on Footlose, she proves to be a pitch-perfect Sandy. She effortlessly exudes the essence of the role both good girl, and bad Sandy. Her dancing is clearly impressive, but with a sturdy set of pipes and a great performance she proves to be a triple threat. Though the two leads are individually impressive, their chemistry is rather lacking, unable to achieve the heights set by Newton-John and Travolta.
SNL-alum Ana Gasteyer does great as the principle, but is completely overshadowed by the mostly mute assistant Haneefah Wood who kills every scene she is in and completely steals the show. Newcomer Elle McLemore showcases a phenomenal interpretation of Patty Simcox, though highly camp and almost cartoon like. A new subplot sees a relationship bloom between she and fellow geek Eugene that proves to be endearing.
We get our first song from the original musical not featured in the movie, ‘Freddy My Love’. Palmer kills it, providing one our favourite numbers of the night. The quick changes are impressive and flawlessly executed.
Doody performs a stunning rendition of ‘Those Magic Changes’ cementing Jordan Fisher as our new crush. He struts through swarms of women fawning over him, and we totally get the feeling. As he performs, Danny tries out for a range of sports with more impressive quick changes, and we note those mini shorts down in our minds for later use. The segment ends with the two singing together while gazing into one anthers eyes and we are done for the night.
The diner scene presents the chemistry between the core cast before dropping a major cameo on us. Didi Conn (the original Frenchie) plays waitress Vi who our Frenchie looks up to for advice before sweetly singing ‘All I Need Is An Angel’. We were expecting a Nick Jonas teen angel but surprisingly Boys To Men perform the number instead, adding a great layer of soul to the production.
The dance scene is a highlight, bursting with high energy and fun throughout as the cast members throw some serious shapes. Mario Lopez moves from the shows presenter to the fictional show presenter blurring the lines of the production. His acting is no longer terrific, but that handsome and charming it really matters little.
Vanessa Hudgens performs the 11 o’clock number, having given a solid Rizzo performance throughout the show, the song is equally as mesmerising. She edges between beautiful vulnerability and a cutting edge. To her credit Hudgens took the stage a mere 24 hours after her father passed away, proving herself to be a phenomenal performer and person. She was a highlight of the movie, but if I see her lick her teeth one more time I will scream.
The drag race proves to be the low point of the movie, as it is blatantly obvious the cars are stationary, though the clever lighting tricks eases that slightly. While not believable it proves to be one of the biggest laughs throughout; and thats what matters right?
Things begin to wind down in the final carnival scene that presents us with our latex-clad Sandy, and she looks stunning! The iconic ‘You’re The One That I Want’ duet is sexy and fun bringing the entire cast together before singing the final number ‘We Go Together’.
The final number saw the cast truly shatter the fourth wall as they piled into the golf carts driving around the sets while joyously cheering and singing with one another. The final few minutes encapsulated the joy, passion and energy of the entire show.
Our Verdict: While we were quietly skeptical of the live show due to the untouchable quality of the movie, the cast each took to the roles effortlessly. The live vocals were all unmatched, and the entire performance was flawless the entire way through, save for one or two minor hiccups. The only thing it missed was the flying car!
The show peaked interest, debuting to 12.2million viewers and received critical acclaim.