As I am a lover of musical theatre and guys in leather jackets, there was no way I was going to miss the live performance of Grease aired on ITV on 3rd February. The production was originally filmed and aired live in the US on January 31st and incorporated elements of the original stage production, the 1978 film version and other songs which were not in either, giving it a uniqueness which can often be hard to achieve in productions of the well-known show.
Two sound stages and the backstage were used for the set, and live audiences were incorporated into the scenes. This unusual staging of the show threw the viewers into the experience and excitement of live musical theatre from the comfort of their sofas.
One of my favourite performances was by Keke Palmer as Marty Maraschino. She proved herself capable of channelling the sassy class of the Pink Lady, something I aspire to every day. The leading performances by Julianne Hough as Sandy and Aaron Tveit as Danny Zuko were brilliant and truly lived up to my expectations. Even if Tveit didn’t exactly imitate the insane vocal rage John Travolta accomplished in the film, he portrayed the slick T Bird with swoon-worthy style. Each actor made the characters they were performing their own and none fell victim to copying previous performers or were hindered by their reputations; despite my initial apprehension, I really wasn’t fazed by the fact Carley Rae Jepsen was Frenchie. The show really pulled on the heart strings of dedicated Grease lovers when Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in the 1978 film, appeared as Vi, the diner waitress. There was a beautiful sense that she was looking out for the future generation, not only in fiction but passing on the metaphorical baton in reality too.
The truly show-stopping dress performance was by Vanessa Hudgens as the fabulously cynical Rizzo. Despite announcing via Twitter hours before Grease was aired that her father had died of cancer the night before, she powered through the show with energy and frantic smiles worthy of her Disney Channel beginnings. She dedicated her performance to the memory of her father and poured this emotion into her performance, particularly in “There are Worse Things I could do”.
Once I got past the fact that Sandy didn’t have an Australian accent, this version of the show really did not disappoint. After half a day in the library and the second half spent at work, the energy and enjoyment of Grease was just what I needed to lift my spirits. What more could you ask for on a rainy Wednesday evening apart from singing “You’re the One that I want” way too loudly?