The actress, who played Rizzo in the TV version of the hit musical, lost her father to cancer the night before the live broadcast, and dedicated the show to him in his honor. The loss made her solo all the more poignant, as she sang lyrics about putting on a brave face.
Hudgens’ mesmerizing rendition of the song earned her compliments on social media from fans, critics and fellow actors.
“Imagine you had Vanessa Hudgens’ day, and doing that. What a superhero. In total awe,” tweeted Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Josh Gad said he was “beyond impressed,” and Corbin Bleu said what she “channeled was magical.”
Hudgens’ boyfriend Austin Butler, who lost his mother to cancer, tweeted that the performance had him in tears.