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‘Grease: Live!’

February 4, 2016

RACHEL MAXWELL

Managing Editor | ram049@ latech.edu

Photo courtesy of Fox

Photo courtesy of Fox

Fox’s production of “Grease: Live” was not what I expected. At times, that was a good thing, and others, not so much.

 

While the show offered refreshing updates that were fun but still nostalgic, it was also seriously lacking between musical numbers, and, with its extensive cinematic tricks, felt like it was more theater-themed than a true stage production.

 

Do not get me wrong, “Grease: Live” was entertaining. Appearances by Boys II Men and “Grease” alumni Didi Conn and Barry Pearl were fun. Aside from a just-okay solo number from Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchie, the singing was great, and Zach Woodlee’s choreography brought new energy to unforgettable dance moves from the 1978 film.

 

Between the larger-than-life musical numbers is where the show fell flat. Only about one in every 10 jokes landed, and even those that did were lukewarm at best. The worst of the dialogue (every exchange between Elle McLemore’s Patty Simcox and Noah Robbins as Eugene Felsnic) was downright hard to watch.

 

The biggest disappointment of the show was, to my surprise, Aaron Tveit’s portrayal of Danny Zuko. I was thrilled when I saw him on the cast list, but he seemed much too severe for the role and failed to capture Zuko’s dopey charm. Tveit ranged from too serious to what felt like a corny Travolta impression, the first dull and the latter cringe-worthy. Luckily for him, the whole show sagged during dialogue scenes, not just him, and his vocal and dance talent was some of the best of the bunch.

 

I was initially disappointed to hear that Julliane Hough and Vanessa Hudgens would be playing Sandy and Rizzo, but they both held their own, as did Jepsen and Keke Palmer as Marty. The women in the show shined brightest during musical numbers, from Jessie J opening the show with an energized rendition of the title track to Palmer’s chill-bump inducing rendition of “Freddy My Love” as Marty.

 

The boys had great musical moments, too (the best being Jordan Fisher’s performance of “Those Magic Changes”), but the girls can be credited with carrying the show through the unforgiving dialogue and awkward jokes.

 

While the show had its flaws, it was a fun use of two hours, and I’ve been listening to the new soundtrack since I watched it.

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