I guess we, as an American people, have decided that we can’t get enough of lived televised musicals – and I love this development. Something about the live format, the beloved, classic musicals, and the slightly cheesy sets and costumes makes me feel like I’m living in the 1960s, when the whole family would gather around the television set to watch the big Sunday night movie. It feels like I should be eating that kind of popcorn you make in an aluminum pan over the stove, or a quaint dessert like popovers.
Grease Live did not disappoint. Sure, parts of it were a bit questionable, but on the whole it was what light family-friendly television is at its best: just a whole lot of fun. Here are the comments, questions and concerns that came into my head during the very enjoyable broadcast.
Some favorites: Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) as Mrs. Murdock, Didi Con (the original Frenchy) as Vi, Wendell Pierce (The Wire) as Coach Calhoun – not to mention the more heavily touted roles played by Vanessa Hudgens (!!), Aaron Tveit (heart-eyes-emoji), Julianne Hough, Keke Palmer and Ana Gasteyer. And Boyz II Men, who I think are probably all just men now.
Question: Did the fourth wall break?
The musical starts (and ends) with the actors prancing throughout the Warner Brothers backlot – AKA Stars Hollow, among other locations. There are a whole lot of wink-wink references to this being a live musical on television in 2016. It wasn’t bad – it was perfectly fine – but it also wasn’t a necessary addition.
When we were watching The Wiz we noted that the one thing the production was missing was a live studio audience. We got one here, but sometimes it was a bit awkward. Namely, they screamed with joy when the stars entered but weren’t actually present for all of the numbers, where you want to hear an audience applauding and reacting. However, as time went on they were present for more and more scenes. The way they were worked in – visible, sitting in bleachers, watching the action – was a tad awkward, but it was the first go at having an audience at one of these and, as they say in self-help books, we’re aiming for progress not perfection.
Comment: Sandy is from Utah. Julianne Hough is Mormon. Sandy is Mormon.
We both watched this with the head-cannon that it was secretly a Modern Mormon Musical. Sandy was a stylish yet modest dresser (like some of our favorite Mormon mommy bloggers) and she was really wholesome, yet friendly to everyone even if they were into stuff she’d never do. However, good luck getting that temple recommend after wearing that Hussy outfit and drinking all that caffeine at the soda fountain.
Concern: Maybe they could have changed the gross lyrics in Summer Nights.
Despite making a few family-friendly lyrical revisions, they kept the line asking if Sandy “put up a fight.”
Question: Are we pretending that Patty is really ugly because of the glasses?
Patty Simcox (Elle McLemore) is clearly gorgeous, but I guess we’re doing that thing where she has bad glasses and a dowdy skirt so nobody can tell. She quickly becomes one of my favorites. Actually, I always liked Patty: she was earnest and a bit of a joiner, but so am I.
Question: Where is my Patty and Eugene spinoff?
If this were a Disney Channel Original Musical there would have been one.
Comment: Jan, in the OG Grease movie and in Grease Live, looks like a cross between a 1950s girl and early 90s Kathleen Hanna.
Question: What are these accents?
Some of the actors are talking like my friends’ nanas from Long Island. Others are talking like the Kristen Wiig “I don’t wanna sing” character. What state is Rydell High supposed to be in?
Question: Was Kenickie only named Kenickie because it rhymed with hickey?
I’m almost positive.
Comment: Aaron Tveit during Greased Lighting, everybody.
Within seconds there were requests on Twitter for Tveit’s pelvic thrust, but me, I’m more into the wink at the end. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m into all of it. (live-tweeting mnemonic: “I before E, except Aaron Tveit.”)
Comment: I ship Danny and Doody.
They have the best duet of the night and they CLEARLY love each other!
Concern: I ship me and Doody.
I think I went through puberty again during Magic Changes. Jordan Fisher was in the Teen Beach Movie franchise and appears to be over the age of 18.
Comment: Vanessa Hudgens is amazing.
Her father died the night before the broadcast, making this the acting version of when a football player’s parent dies the day of the Superbowl or whatever. Her performance would have been just as impressive sans tragic circumstances, but still – wow. No people like show people, y’all.
There Are Worse Things I Could Do is a song you have to nail in order to keep Rizzo from being a cartoon, and she did it. She’s also by far the youngest Rizzo I’ve ever seen, high school productions aside.
Concern: Carly Rae Jepson’s new song.
If they added the song All I Need Is An Angel for awards show eligibility, I have some news they won’t like. It doesn’t even fit stylistically with the rest of the show.
Question: Can Boyz II Men do one of those talking intros where they call Frenchy ‘girl’?
That’s my only quibble. They were WONDERFUL and I was so happy seeing them!
Concern: AC Slater is hitting on teenaged Marty as though he learned nothing from Jessie Spano.
She’d never allow that behavior.
Comment: Saved By The Bell is really old.
I did some math during the school dance. When Saved By The Bell began, Grease was set 30 years in the past. In 2016, season 1 of SBTB was 27 years ago. Ergo, the late 80s/early 90s look as old to kids today as the NINETEEN FREAKING FIFTIES did when SBTB was on. Which is to say: yikes.
Concern: I feel like people aren’t excited enough about Jan Brady.
Question: Why is the carnival in the gym?? Especially when there is an outside?
The carnival is set up in the gym, which doesn’t seem the most fun.
Concern: I wish there was a way around Slutty! Sandy.
Sandy’s hoochie clothes are really fun, but I wish there was a way to frame it as something other than her changing for Danny – like that her parents made her dress in those cute pastel librarian clothes but she personally hated it, or something.
Comment: NEVER MIND. THEY GO OUTSIDE. IT IS AMAZING.
Everyone gets a curtain call, and they let actors drive those studio tour carts, and it’s just a whole lot of fun!