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.
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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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.
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.
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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.