‘GREASE: LIVE!’ (2016)

February 5, 2016 13 Comments

Much as musicals were once all the range, nowadays the fad seems to be producing live stage productions. NBC is the first to tread into the territory to much criticism. This past Sunday night, Fox joined those ranks with a production of the popular musical, Grease

Grease: Live! (2016) TV Film Review

The story remains the same, only with a more “updated” (in some sense) feel. Dancing with the Stars alum, Julianne Hough as Sandy and TV star Aaron Tveit as Danny bring the iconic would-be lovers to life. 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.  

‘GREASE: LIVE!’ (2016). Reviewing the Fox live production with Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens. All review text © Rissi JC / RissiWrites.com

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; and also know the production “made” Olivia Newton-John. Beyond that, I’m hopelessly clueless.  

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‘GREASE: LIVE!’ (2016). Reviewing the Fox live production with Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens. All review text © Rissi JC / RissiWrites.com

Watching this was a great deal of fun as has been each of its peers. The first of which is The Sound of Music, which did incite a wild gang of controversy. When I watched, it’s to take in the charm and loveliness that is NBC’s stage production of the classic. Since I didn’t read much of fan’s reaction for Grease’s debut (I prefer 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 is one “flaw,” it’s the story. As I watched this, I felt like nothing sparkles 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. Add to this is the fact that everything is in music rather than dialogue, and I’m willing to concede there may have been something of a disconnect.  

Despite some technical flaws (which surprise me) and a near inclement weather cancellation, this is a production that deserves 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) 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.  

‘GREASE: LIVE!’ (2016). Reviewing the Fox live production with Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens. All review text © Rissi JC / RissiWrites.com

If you like sparkling productions full of upbeat tunes (familiar songs like ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ and ‘Beauty School Dropout’ are intact) you’ll 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. And for a new generation of discovery, I say bravo. This is a memorable piece of entertainment that’s sure to leave its viewer with a wide smile.  

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find Grease: Live! digitally on Amazon Video

Content: there are multiple and minor sexual references including a teen pregnancy scare. Grease Live is TV14.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Dawn Janis February 5, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    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.

    • Rissi February 6, 2016 at 4:25 AM

      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. :)

  • Meghan M. Gorecki February 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    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. ;)

    • Rissi February 6, 2016 at 4:28 AM

      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! ;)

  • Merry February 5, 2016 at 4:42 PM

    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!

    • Rissi February 6, 2016 at 4:28 AM

      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. :)

  • Raquel Z. Duarte February 5, 2016 at 7:36 PM


    • Rissi February 6, 2016 at 4:29 AM

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

  • Lisa Colangelo February 10, 2016 at 5:44 PM

    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!

    • Rissi March 2, 2016 at 12:04 AM

      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. :)

  • Kara March 1, 2016 at 4:25 PM

    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?)

    • Rissi March 2, 2016 at 12:07 AM

      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. :)

  • […] fun-lovin’ times, right? Plus, there’s the classic version with Olivia Newton-John and the live TV remake with Julianne Hough. Find the 1978 Grease digitally on Amazon Video | PG for suggestive content/conversation, some […]

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