It could be Greased Lightning!
Grease is the word! Since the release of the 1971 musical and the megahit 1978 film, Grease has been a cultural mainstay across generations. The songs and characters have become iconic, with the music being covered for decades now. With the recent tragic passing of the original Sandra Dee Olivia Newton-John, Grease has been on many people’s minds. With that being the case, let’s take a look at the 2016 special Grease Live! The special aired live on January 31, 2016, and starred Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough, Carlos PenaVega, Vanessa Hudgens Carly Rae Jepsen, Keke Palmer, Kether Donohue, Jordan Fisher, Andrew Call, David Del Rio, and several high-profile guest stars.
Zuko tries on the All-American jock look.
The special opens with Danny (Tveit) and Sandy (Hough) standing in front of a green screen beach saying that they will always have this summer. The camera pans out and we see they’re on a soundstage before the sign for Grease Live! Is wheeled in. Jessie J then performs “Grease Is the Word” while walking through the whole production with the Pink Ladies and T-Birds. So many people in this show are wearing chucks that it’s hard to keep count, but what’s immediately clear is that chucks are the favorite shoe of the T-Birds as most members wear them during the show. The show then begins properly as the T-Birds and Pink Ladies head into Rydell High and catch up after the summer break. Rizzo (Hudgens) reunites with Kenickie (PenaVega) and Zuko with the rest of the gang.
The T-Birds in their chucks.
It’s soon revealed that Sandy didn't go back to Utah and instead is now attending Rydell High. Sandy soon meets Frenchie (Jepsen) and the rest of the Ladies and, in the gym, she and Zuko reminisce their time together with the song “Summer Nights”. Soon after, Sandy and Danny run into each other and Danny blows her off to appear cool in front of the T-Birds, which crushes Sandy. During a sleepover with the Pink Ladies, Rizzo mocks Sandy’s pure personality in the song “Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee”. Meanwhile, Kenickie purchases a beat-up old car he wants to fix up and then race at Thunder Road. The T-Birds fix her up during the fantastical “Greased Lightning”.
Boyz II Men play the Angels and wear black high top chucks in this show
To try and win Sandy back, Danny tries to join a sport to impress her, in a montage that is set to the song “Those Magic Changes”. Frenchie drops out of Rydell and joins a beauty school, only to drop out of that as well, immortalized in the song “Beauty School Dropout”. At the school dance, Danny embarrassed Sandy again by dancing and winning the dance contest with Cha-Cha DiGregorio instead of her. She sings about her heartbreak in the beautiful “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. Danny is then stood up by Sandy at the drive-in, and his version of heartbreak is covered in “Sandy”. Rizzo is fearful that she is pregnant and laments about the gossip surrounding her possible pregnancy in the heartbreaking “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”. Danny wins the race at Thunder Road in Greased Lightning and both he and Sandy know they need to make a change to be the one the other wants. At the end of the year carnival, Danny arrives in a letterman’s jacket, embracing his new jock persona and admitting he has to grow up to be with Sandy, However, Sandy soon arrives after in a leather greaser getup to impress Danny. They sing to each other in the iconic “You're the One That I Want”, and after they get back together, the whole ensemble sing “We Go Together” to end the show.
Tell me more, tell me more!
The production was marred by a few key issues, the most notable of which was the weather. It rained extensively throughout the day the live special was set and that led to many changes in the set. However, the director, Tommy Kail (of Hamilton fame), and the whole crew dealt with these changes seamlessly, and the show still turned out amazing. The cast is wonderful and puts on a great performance, with Vanessa Hudgens’ Rizzo being a standout. Her father, unfortunately, passed away the day before the special and the show is dedicated to him. You can hear the heartbreak in her voice when she sings “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”. The choreography is also standout and it combined with the setting, gives the special a different feel from the iconic film. This special is well worth your time if you’re looking for a different take on Grease, and shows that whether it's live, in the theater, or at the movies, grease will always be the word!
Tell me about it, stud!
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