Title: Grease: Live (2016)
Director: Thomas Kail, Alex Rudzinski
Genres: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Romance, Pop Musical, Theatre, Drama
Rating: 5 stars
It’s a live TV adaptation of the 1971 musical of the same name. The musical is well-known for its 1978 adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Here’s the (original) synopsis:
It’s California 1959 and greaser Danny Zuko and Australian Sandy Olsson are in love. They spend time at the beach, and when they go back to school, what neither of them knows is that they both now attend Rydell High. Danny’s the leader of the T-Birds, a group of black leather jacket-wearing greasers while Sandy hangs with the Pink Ladies, a group of pink-wearing girls led by Rizzo. When they clash at Rydell’s first pep rally, Danny isn’t the same Danny from the beach. They then try to be like each other so they can be together.
It was amazing from beginning to end. Many of the songs were performed with great similarity to the 1978 film (Hopelessly Devoted to You, Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee, etc.) while others had really magical adaptations (Freddy My Love). I have no complains about the actors – I knew several of them, and they all performed brilliantly. I couldn’t help but laugh at how the actors adapted their characters’ personalities so uniquely similar. It seemed almost like a tribute to this musical overall, which was the case for Vanessa Hudgens – whose dad passed away the day before the broadcast. The film was full of action, drama, comedy, romance and musicality. The script was a bit different to the 1978 film, as school scenes (with Principal McGee) were added – which I personally found a bit too long for the overall theme of the musical.
However, when looking at behind-the-scenes, I couldn’t help but picture all the organization that was going on throughout the progression of the musical. Actors running to different settings to prepare for the next scene, switching costumes (did you see Keke Palmer’s 2-second change of costume when singing Freddy My Love? That was my favorite performance of all.) and all the perfect cinematography, with a small but solid audience for each performance. It was very nice to see some backstage scenes and how the settings changed from one to another. For instance, after the first scene (where Danny and Sandy bid their goodbyes) the cameramen then zooms out to show us the behind-the-scenes and follow Jessie J through all backstage, all while she sings the intro. It was also particularly touching to see Didi Conn, who played Frenchy in the 1978 film, get a role in this musical too.
As you can probably tell by now, there are so many things to point out about this film. I feel that I just rambled about a list of things that aren’t even coherent when put together, so my best advice for you is to just… watch it. I know I have said that for every film I have reviewed until now, but that’s my honest opinion. I don’t think you can compare this musical to the original film, as they are so far apart in time and setting, and both are just so extremely good.
Who do I recommend it to?
I remember watching the 1978 film as a teen, and not understanding a few scenes (revolving around Rizzo’s pregnancy scare?) because I was a completely ignorant person back then. I would probably give an age range for that film of 13+. However, I think this 2016 musical is very suitable for a family-weekend-watching-film, so the age appropriateness would probably be much friendlier. I believe this is one of those musical that will be timeless – it has lasted for more than 45 years so far! So you might as well watch it 😉