8:24pm PT by Erin Strecker, Billboard, Joe Lynch, Billboard
'Grease: Live': 10 Memorable Performances
Following in the footsteps of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz, Fox got into the live musical broadcast game Sunday with Grease: Live! Not only a first for Fox, this was also the first live musical broadcast (of the 21st century batch) to be filmed in front of a live studio audience.
Starring Dancing With the Stars coach Julianne Hough as Sandy, High School Musical vet Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, Hot 100-topping singer Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy, Broadway champ Aaron Tveit as Danny, Big Time Rush's Carlos PenaVega as Kenickie, Scream Queens' Keke Palmer as Marty and a whole ton of special guests, the three-hour event was rockin', rollin' and whatnot.
From "Greased Lightning" to "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," these were the 10 best moments from Grease: Live.
Jessie J Intro
Grease: Live kicked off with the most exciting intro of any of the live musicals so far — Jessie J belted "Grease Is the Word" with an assured, soulful cool while walking through the multi-stage set, giving viewers an idea of the massive crew and backstage set-up that goes into a three-hour live event like this.
"Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee"
Not every highlight of the 1978 Grease film was a high point of the live musical broadcast, but Rizzo's solo number packed as much of a punch on Fox Sunday night as in the movie. Donning a blonde wig to mock Sandy's wholesome purity, Vanessa Hudgens captured Rizzo's snide, smirking attitude perfectly and hilariously. Keke Palmer's solo spot during the sleepover was fantastic, too, but playing the most experienced of the Pink Ladies, Hudgens was probably the live musical's MVP — an even more impressive feat since she was pushing through the recent, tragic loss of her father to deliver one of the funniest, most nuanced performances of the show.
As Rydell’s principal, Gasteyer milked every laugh line for maximum LOLs. From her crack about how a cheerleader's worst fear is being late to her face as she handed over a rogue bra to fellow educator Blanche, she kept audiences laughing all night long. She was basically channeling her SNL character Bobbi Mohan Culp — not that we’re complaining.
Julianne Hough Dance Break
It’s no secret Julianne Hough can dance. But one of her brightest spots in the show was her cheerleading audition in front of the whole school, a perfect combination that showed off her dancing, gymnastics, balance and charm.
One of the most iconic numbers from the movie did not disappoint. Tons of excellent choreography from a crew of dancers that was completely on point made everyone at home want to get up and dance along. They did change a few of the more R-rated lyrics from the original (“pussy wagon” becomes “dragon wagon,” because… sure), but it definitely earns its spot as a moment to rewatch.
Boyz II Men
Choosing Boyz II Men to deliver the doo-wop "Beauty School Dropout" was an inspired decision, and naturally, the classic R&B outfit delivered some of the night's smoothest vocals as the Teen Angels, serenading Carly Jae Jepsen's Frenchy after the Pink Lady got a little too pink. Another inspired casting decision: Getting original Frenchy Didi Conn to play the waitress in the diner so Conn and Carly Rae could share a few scenes together.
Hand Jive, Baby
It was highly anticipated, but the all-out dance fest of “Hand Jive” — backed by Joe Jonas and DNCE — was a total blast that lived up to the hype, even if the sound went out for a few seconds in the middle of it. Everyone completely committed to the complicated choreography. And the formatting flourish of having the entire home broadcast go from color to black and white while the screen dimensions went from rectangular to box format — to mimic what TV looked like in the '50s — was a particularly nice touch by director Tommy Kail
"There Are Worse Things I Could Do"
There were some seriously big heels to fill when it came to Rizzo, who was so memorably played by Stockard Channing in the movie. But High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens more than rose to the challenge, delivering one of the standout performances of the show. Her showstopping version of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was a real treat for fans both new and old.
"You're the One That I Want"
Which Grease song is better — "Summer Nights" or "You're the One That I Want"? The answer is pretty much always the one you're watching at the moment. During Sunday's Grease: Live, though, "You're the One" was the clear winner. Danny's rigid faint when he caught sight of Sandy's catsuit was hilarious and perfect, and the choreography was seriously impressive— and we're not just talking about the dancers. The camera following around the actors was just as fluid with its movements as the dancers, deftly tracking through the packed gymnasium.
"We Go Together"
Fourth-wall breaks bookended the TV musical, which was a bold choice. The final time the camera pulled back to reveal the behind-the-scenes machinations, we got to see the main cast rolling around the studio lot in tour carts before ending up at the carnival. And the most heart-pounding moment of the whole night came when one of the carts rolled up on the curb for a moment, making you wonder for a half second if the cast-filled cart would disastrously tip over on live TV. Luckily, it didn’t.
This story first appeared on Billboard.