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The Farr Side: 'Grease Live' is impressive

David T. Farr
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updated: 2/4/2016 9:33 AM

"Grease" is the word! Fans of the famed musical love story have been talking for months on social media about the much-hyped live TV broadcast on Fox.
The wait finally ended Sunday, when the live event aired on television for the first time. I must say, "Grease: Live" was impressive.
I was a little skeptical when I learned of the cast a few months ago. I mean, who is going to be good enough to play 'Sandy better than Olivia Newton-John, or, Danny, the role that helped take John Travolta from a sweathog to a Hollywood superstar?
To some people, "Grease" is sacred. Luckily, for me, I wasn't too worried about Julianne Hough making a convincing Sandy Young. She already has the girl-next-door-vibe down pat. But I had no knowledge of Aaron Tveit, so I didn't know what to expect for his portrayal of Danny Zucco.
The show opened with a stellar take on "Grease (Is The Word)" by singer Jessie J. Sure. It was no Frankie Valli, but Jessie J sang the you-know-what out of the classic hit. It was good enough that I downloaded the track while I watching the show.
The Pink Ladies were well represented -- Keke Palmer (Marty), Carly Rae Jepsen (Frenchy), and Jether Donahue (Jan). Vanessa Hudgens portrayed Rizzo with pizzazz. I'm willing to bet Stockard Channing would give her a big thumbs up, too.
It was reported on the news later that Hudgens suffered a major blow just hours before the show was to go live. Her father had passed away from cancer right before the show.
I can't imagine how she was able to compose herself enough to go through with it. It brings a whole new meaning to "the show must go on." I'm certain Hudgens' father wouldn't have had her do it any other way. This was a dream role and she was brilliant.
Executive producer Marc Platt is no stranger when it comes to producing big Broadway plays. The man holds "Into The Woods" and "Wicked!" to his credit. He was able to take key parts of the film and re-adapt them for live television. I'm pretty sure this was easier said than done, however, whatever he did worked. The show went on without even one glitch.
As I watched, I couldn't help but think ahead and ponder how certain parts were going to be adapted to work for TV. "Those Magic Changes" came to mind. It was brilliant how Platt created a cinematic element for the small screen.
The coolest feature of the live aspect was that a real audience was used whenever possible. For instance, when in the gymnasium of Rydell High the bleachers were filled with audience members witnessing the spectacle for the first time. That created a natural excitement of a pep rally.
None of this would have been a success had the musical numbers bombed. Thankfully, this cast nailed the music perfectly. Hough did Newton-John proud, especially when she tackled "Hopelessly Devoted to You," a song that Newton-John took to the top of the pop charts.
As for Tveit, he did a superb job bringing Danny to life. In the bargain, he may have risen to stardom, too. It was probably a good idea to give the role to a no-name actor, since it lessened the pressure to deliver, but Tveit exceeded expectations.
Fox succeeded, too, bringing "Grease" to life on the small screen. In fact, I got chills ... they're multiplying.

Contact David T. Farr at

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