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Grease: Live! (2016)

Much as musicals were once all the range when a night at the cinema meant dressing up, nowadays the fad seems to be producing live stage productions. NBC was the first to tread into the territory to much criticism and has since followed their debut with two additional productions. This past Sunday night, Fox joined those ranks with a production of the popular musical, Grease. 

The story remains the same, only with a more “updated” (in some sense) feel as the iconic would-be lovers are brought to life by Dancing with the Stars alum, Julianne Hough as Sandy and TV star Aaron Tveit as Danny. Along with their cliques and friends – including Pink Ladies Frenchy (Carly Rae Jepson) and Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens), Kenickie (Carlos Pena-Vega) and Doody (Jordan Fisher), the young seniors sing their way through a school year of dreams, broken hearts and a whole lot of dancing.  

Before I delve too deeply into the good, bad or awkward of this latest live production, I do have to fess up. Don’t quote me on this, but far as I can remember, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original phenomenon that is Grease. Sure I know the gist of the story and have heard some of the music along with knowing the production “made” Olivia Newton-John the name she is today. Beyond that, I’m hopelessly clueless.  

Watching this was a great deal of fun as has been each of its peers. The first of which was The Sound of Music, which incited a wild gang of controversy while I watched, taking in the charm and loveliness that was NBC’s stage production of the classic. Since I didn’t read much of fan’s reaction for Grease’s debut (I preferred to keep my opinion unbiased – even if it’d have been only slight), watching it was a kind of colorful sense of excitement.  

If there was one “flaw,” it’s the story. As I watched this, I felt like there wasn’t anything sparkling about it nor could it be said there is anything particularly “deep” about it. But then that, I understand, is part of its charm. The music is what makes the film shine. Added to this is the fact that Story is told through music rather than relying on dialogue and I’m willing to concede there may have been something of a disconnect for me since I didn’t get the television turned on right away.  

Despite some technical flaws (which surprised me) and a near cancellation due to inclement weather, this is a production that deserves all the kudos. There isn’t a dull moment as the characters songbird through their troubles and potentially devastating mistakes. The acting excels. Casting dancers (Julianne Hough), recording artists (Jepson and Hudgens) and stage actors (Tveit, who is no stranger to musical productions) is reason why this is so. Also, having Hough in the lead ups the ante all the  more since she’s a “complete package” performer that should feel right at home on this stage.  

If you like sparkling productions full of upbeat tunes (familiar songs like ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ and ‘Beauty School Dropout’ are intact) with a swinging sense of fashion are sure to enjoy this. True for some it won’t touch the icon that is John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s Danny and Sandy however as a unique approach to this classic for a new generation, I say bravo. This is a memorable piece of entertainment that’s sure to leave its viewer with a wide smile.  

(Content: there are multiple and minor sexual references including a teen pregnancy scare. Grease Live is rated TV14.)
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  1. I missed this on Sunday as my pastor had a leaders meeting. I so want to see it. Grease is by far one of my favorite musicals. I've seen the movie countless times and I've seen it on stage too.

    1. When you see it - and if you think of it, Dawn, let me know what you think of it. (It's coming to DVD at some point if it's not already available elsewhere digitally.) I'd love to read your thoughts. :)

  2. I loved this SO much. My sister and Mum and I watched it all together--the original Grease was her jam back in the day--and we quickly determined this version was my generation's Grease. I've had the songs stuck in my head aaaalllll week. LOL So has my sister--to the extent that yesterday for instance, I had almost a whole day without a Grease song in my head until my sister came home humming one. Aaannd the cycle repeats. ;)
    Tveit was swoon-worthy, Hough was perfect and but for singing outshined Olivia Newton John, Vanessa Hudgens and the other Pink Ladies were stellar and just...agh. The cheesiness and lack of a deep story is classic--it's Grease ;) -- and the music is the best. << just my musical fangirl coming out. ;)

    1. This has that ability, Meghan - those songs are the kind that hit "repeat" in ones head and won't quit. Not that I mind. I'm thinking in addition to eventually buying this on DVD, I'll *need* the soundtrack too. :)

      I've not seen the original Grease but suspect I will now (it's a must, right!?).

      To be honest, I really didn't mind the lack of a "deep" story, because as you say, that's classic Grease! It's meant to come across that way. The entire cast WAS amazing. I love how you describe everyone. It's all perfect.

      Fangirls unite! ;)

  3. I loved it! I was amazed by the huge 20 acre set. I think they did a really great job for a live production, so fun!

    1. As did I, Merry - especially when you watched how the cast dashed about the night of the show. All of these live productions amaze me. :)

  4. Replies
    1. Ahhh! I think you'll like it, Raquel. Swing by again if you have a chance to see it. :)

  5. Funny, my husband and I had this sitting on our DVR unwatched. Finally sat down to it last night and LOVED IT! Just the fact that they had the ability to pull it off "live" was truly amazing. That it was a terrific show was a bonus!

    1. Hi Lisa! Apologies for missing your comment. Not sure how this happened. :) I'm so pleased to know you enjoyed this one. Any of the networks that pull of a live show has a challenge ahead of them, and yet each time, they seem to pull it off seamlessly. :)

  6. I haven't seen this, but I want to! I've never seen Aaron Tveit in anything, but since he's rather nice to look at I wouldn't mind picturing him as Danny. :) (And you've never seen the original?! It's definitely not "deep" as you put it, but still rather sweet. Do you think you ever will?)

    1. Aaron isn't bad to look at in the least. ;) I really liked the cast in this one though of course, I never had anything to compare it too. No, I haven't seen the original. What's wrong with me, right!? However yes, I would really like too. Here's hoping. :)


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