Remember just a few short years ago when we didn’t get excited to see our favorite musicals rewired into live T.V. versions? Ever since NBC served us with a live retelling of The Sound of Music in 2013 (love you, Ms. Carrie), the network has not only kept up with delivering a new one each year (2014 with Peter Pan, last year with The Wiz and this year will be Hairspray), but now Fox will be throwing its live musical hat in the ring not once, but twice this year. First up will be this Sunday’s Grease:Live, and this fall will be their live offering of the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which will star Orange is the New Black hairdressing diva, Laverne Cox, as Frank-N-Further. What you got, CBS and ABC?
But oh yes indeed, Grease:Live will not only jumpstart Fox’s live musical agenda, but will kickstart a year that is already looking to be nice and lively, meaning this better be something. Luckily for us, the new version does star a largely well-known cast of actors and actresses, including Julianne Hough in Olivia Newton-John’s role of Sandy Olson, former High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Betty “Stockard Channing” Rizzo, and Carly Rae Jepsen will be playing everyone’s favorite beauty school dropout, Frenchy.
Also in the Grease:Live mix will be Keke “T-boz” Palmer playing Marty, Ana Gasteyer as Principal McGee, and the one-and-only Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine, naturally. Even Philly’s own Boyz II Men will be soaring by as they will be taking on the role of Teen Angel (and serenading Carly Rae!), in the role originally played by Frankie Avalon. And just who will be singing the world-famous Grease theme song made famous by Mr. Frankie Valli? Everyone’s favorite third favorite “Bang Bang” diva, Ms. Jessie J.
Of course, what the word of Grease all comes down to is the hair comb loving title character, Danny Zuko. The role made famous by John Travolta will be taken on by stage star Aaron Tveit, and many of you out there are probably wondering–who the f$%k is he? Not to worry because getting to know the fine Mr. Tveit, is just one of the six ways you can prepare yourself for the Grease:Live spectacle that’s about to take over our Fox Sunday night lives.
Which means, that’s a whole lot of cigarettes to be sexually stamped out with your red stiletto by then.
1.Watch the original…..As if you haven’t watched the box office guzzling 1978 original 954, 765, 321 times before, now is the one viewing that really counts. Because whether you’re the Danny, Rizzo, Chi Chi or Sandy of your group, knowing every move, every piece of Stockard shade, every hair comb in “Greased Lightning,” and if you’re the Jan, knowing every word to “The Brush Up Song” is essential before any type of Grease:Live viewing party.
2…..and then watch Grease 2. Better than its predecessor? Absolutely not. Is there any memorable music? Nope. A complete and dismal box office box office failure? Absolutely. Will there be shade thrown Philly Mixtape’s way for even discussing it? Of course. However…it does star the one-and-only Michelle Pfieffer, who would leave this ’80s dumpster fire behind to go on and co-star in Scarface, which would put her on the A-list map that would lead her to the dark and twisted mind of Tim Burton for Batman Returns. And for that, we must always respect Ms. Selina “meow” Kyle, even if it is sitting through this oh, so bad Grease sequel.
3.Get to know Mr. Tveit…. It’s clear what everyone’s thinking–who is this guy? While the majority of the cast are relatively known (even Jessie J), Mr. Tveit seems to fly a bit more under the radar–or so you think. Over the years, Aaron has had recurring roles on ABC’s Ugly Betty and The CW’s Gossip Girl, as well as the lead role of TNT’s now defunct undercover agent series, Graceland. But Tvein’s real claim to fame has been when he’s had a piece of The Great White Way, taking on the role of Enjorales in the big screen adaption of Les Miserables, as well as originating the roles of Gabe in Next to Normal and Frank Abagnale Jr. in the stage version of Catch Me If You Can.
So, if you’re still wondering who he is, take a look at him in action on Broadway. Any doubts you have that he can’t pull off he role of Danny Zuko will go away once you watch. You never know, much like Travolta, this may be a career game changer for Mr. Tveit.
4.Listen to Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album…. For those who might have thought that this was Ms. Jepsen’s first return to form since her 2013 hit, “Call Me Maybe” and said, “Oh, there she is” once word spread that she would be playing Frenchy, you couldn’t be any further from the music truth.
Last year, the Candies diva returned to the scene with her surprisingly good Emotion set, a record packed with bombastic ’80s synths, big pop hooks and music, um, emotions, that only Ms. Carly Rae knows how to deliver. There’s a reason why her long-awaited sophomore set was at the top of several year-end lists last year, and you can listen for yourself below to hear why–it’s that delicious.
5.Watch the video for Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” Because, why wouldn’t you?
6.Keep an open mind….. As we’ve seen with The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz, the social media-verse certainly gets busy during these live musical adaptations with comments that sometimes throw more shade than a redwood forest. Like for instance, during The Sound of Music when people were saying Carrie Underwood was no Julie Andrews. Really? Was anyone surprised that she wasn’t? The point is, these live musical versions aren’t supposed to be like their predecessors, but a live network retelling that actually gets the casting right better than any Lifetime Be Like music biopic that’s out there right now. (chante, you stay, Ms. Braxton).
All meaning, while you may have the urge to already throw shade towards Vanessa Hudgens because she is no Stockard Channing, keep an open mind, because that’s the whole point of it all. These live musicals don’t come close to matching the prowess of their on screen predecessors, but they come pretty damn close in trying.