Hopelessly Devoted to Grease
February 25, 2016
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Hopelessly Devoted to Grease
By Janey Beardsley
On Sunday, January 31 Fox aired Grease: Live. This was a live performance of the 1978 film, Grease, about a high school love affair between a greaser, Danny Zuko, and a proper girl, Sandy Olsson. If you’ve never seen the original Grease, it’s available on Netflix and runtime is 1 hour and 50 minutes, so get on that!
Let me tell you now, Grease: Live definitely wasn’t Grease. However, that doesn’t mean it was anything to be ashamed of. The 52 days of rehearsal were well spent and really proved it was worth watching.
Julianne Hough really looked and acted like Sandy! However, Kenickie Murdoch was questionable. This tough guy character, played by the former Big Time Rush member, Carlos Pena, Jr., did well memorizing his lines and choreography, but he just wasn’t able to pull off the intimidation like Jeff Conaway. Pena seems too soft to be the unprotected sex,, fight the man, race your enemy type.
One of the biggest issues with the show was Patty Simcox, played by Elle McLemore. She was an obnoxious character, whose continuous over-acting made me cringe. Her character was unnecessarily present in a lot of scenes. I’m not sure if it was a tactic used for other cast members to change costume or move to another set, but her scenes simply weren’t enjoyable. The Patty character is supposed to be an over-excited girl who is teased due to her enthusiasm. Instead, in the live portrayal she practically made fun of herself by acting unpleasant, hyperactive and loud.
A huge highlight of the show for me, and I’m sure for a lot of Grease fans, was Didi Conn’s role as Vi, the waitress. Didi Conn, the original Frenchy in the 1978 film, really hit home when she shared a scene with Frenchy (played by Carly Rae Jepsen) about dropping out of beauty school. The connection Conn had with her past role was probably one of the most memorable parts for many Greasers.
Now everyone’s favorite part of any musical, the songs! The choreography and the singing were extremely well done. Rizzo and the Pink Ladies’ “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” was one of my favorites; and Sandy’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was absolutely amazing; she really put her heart into the song and hit every note astoundingly well.
While watching this you might be confused by the songs “Dear Freddy” and “All You Need is an Angel,” along with a few others. “Dear Freddy” is actually from the Broadway performance. “All You Need is an Angel” was specifically written for Fox’s performance. Both songs were fantastic and fun to listen to, especially Keke Palmer’s (Marty’s) “Dear Freddy.” It was definitely one of the more amusing songs; however, adding new songs may have taken away from the Grease experience.
Although the performance had some issues, the set design and costumes were phenomenal, and overall Fox did a decent job casting. For all Grease fans, I believe this is definitely something to see even if it’s not exactly the way we remembered. However, maybe it shouldn’t be exactly the same as the 1978 film; a fresh take is always welcome. I think Grease: Live is a 6 out of 10.