BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI AND LAURA CALDERON
On Sunday, Jan 31, nationwide audiences tuned into Fox Network’s live adaptation of the renowned film and Broadway production, “Grease.”
For the past three years, NBC has provided the general public with live televised musicals, beginning with 2013’s “Sound of Music.”
For those that did tune in, many were confounded when the Fox adaptation omitted some unforgettable moments that the 1978 cinema classic made audiences love.
The scope of the production was wide and ambitious, covering several detailed sets and incorporating a live audience. Although the production was large and flashy with style and finesse, it seemed to collapse under its own weight, having taken on such a legendary stage and screen play like “Grease.”
“I felt like they didn’t have the right attitude to play those legendary characters, like the original film cast did,” said Sarah Bumiller, a history education major at the County College of Morris. “I liked Aaron Tveit a lot, but he just wasn’t Danny Zuko.”
The production fell short of expectations held by viewers who had seen “Grease” previously. Some felt it was misleading and confusing due to the changes in story order and continuity within the new production. Songs and scenes were readjusted due to stage adaptation, and concerns over the length of the production as a whole.
“TV musicals are an abomination of the small screen,” said Gerald Neely, a history major at CCM. “Fox shouldn’t have their hands on anything; it usually ends up terrible.”
Between the singing, shoddy sound editing and shaky live camera, “Grease: Live!” suffered many pitfalls of its large cast and crew.
Several cast members playing the main characters (like Danny, Sandy and Rizzo) did have prior singing and acting experience, but because of the live element of the telecast, these experienced players seemed to have fallen short of expectations. Julianne Hough, a well known professional dancer, known from her “Dancing with the Stars” fame, actually fell during one of the most important dance numbers of the musical. Whether it was nerves or miscommunication with her partner, it certainly had an impact on that scene in particular.
Aside from mistakes, the ensemble as a whole seemed to be mismatched and lacking a certain charisma that other ensembles of “Grease” casts have had in the past. The live audience aspect was troubling to the setting, as many members of the audience were dressed in modern attire, throwing off the believability of the 1950’s setting.
“I love ‘Grease,’ and personally I feel that the modernization of the movie ruined the plot as a whole,” said Valerie Evans, a hospitality major at CCM. “Mario Lopez and Joe Jonas were great to see, but I thought their appearances took away from the show as a whole.”
Despite several disappointing moments in the live telecast, the event did have some redeeming parts. Didi Conn, the actress that originated the role of Frenchie in the 1978 film made a cameo role, which thrilled many viewers that knew her from the original film. Also, the inclusion of a few songs from the Broadway adaptation was a delight to some older audiences, as those songs have been largely forgotten about when “Grease” is thought of.
“I loved ‘Grease,’ I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I would,” said Kristen Urban, communications major at CCM. “I hope the networks make more musicals for television in years to come. They’ve been really great and only get better.”