One that they want

By: Caitlin Moynihan, Columnist

It’s currently 10:05 p.m., I just finished watching Grease: LIVE! on FOX and I am speechless. As an avid Broadway enthusiast and someone who truly appreciates live theater and all the technicalities that go into creating a production, I had high hopes for Grease.

Although past attempts on live-broadcasted musicals made me switch channels out of sheer second-hand embarrassment, there was something different about Grease. Instead of relying on big names like “Sound of Music: LIVE!” did with Carrie Underwood, the production team created an equal balance by using stars who have experience with live theater.

Aaron Tveit (Danny Zuko), Keke Palmer (Marty), Vanessa Hudgens (Rizzo) and Carly Rae Jepsen (Frenchy) are all Broadway alumni who made the program feel more like I was sitting in a theater instead of a couch in my apartment.

While the acting and dancing were phenomenal, it was the production that made Grease become the champion of live television. The director, Thomas Kail, is another Broadway alum who is most known for directing the outrageously popular new American musical, “Hamilton.”

Kail was able to bring the magic of Broadway to the screen in a way that has never been done before. It is hard to surprise an audience while doing a revival of a classic, but with amazing camera angles, beautiful sets and hundreds of behind-the-scene workers I was excited for each scene.

I cheered when Marty’s blue nightgown suddenly transformed into a red ball gown, and was in awe during the street race scene. I cheered along with the live audience and truly felt like I was there watching it in person.

If you’ve ever seen a show at a theatre before, then you can understand how important of a role the audience can play: if no one claps enthusiastically or laughs at the appropriate times then it negatively affects the actors on stage. But in turn, an amazing audience can drastically change the attitude of the show.

This is another way that Kail used his Broadway background to his advantage:  Kail had an actual live studio audience at every studio for every scene. Their applause was infectious and it really drew out the best in the actors, especially noted in Juliane Hough’s (Sandy) ballad.

Not only did it create a high-energy set that translated to the home audiences, but it also made everything more believable and emotional. Just hours before the show aired, Hudgens Tweeted out that her father had died the night before due to stage-four cancer and that she would continue on in doing the show in his honor.

During her solo, where Rizzo is reflecting on the fact that she may be pregnant, you could truly feel her emotion. She delivered a phenomenal performance that rivaled her time on Broadway in “Gigi,” which I was able to see during its limited run.

This show did not rely on one big name or number to be a success, but it took every fiber of talent from each actor, producer, designer and director. “Grease: LIVE!” is something that only happens when live musical broadcasts are treated like theater instead of a television program. “Grease:LIVE!” has set the bar and I am excited to see what comes next!

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