Grease: Live! (2016)

grease live poster 2016 tv special julianne hough aaron tveit vanessa hudgens
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Impressive production value one-ups other live musicals, kept it light and fun

The popularity of the movie could overshadow the production in viewers opinion

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Grease:  Live!

Studio:  Paramount Television

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance

Release Date(s):  January 31, 2016

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Grease is the word and this opening set the feel!

Greaser Danny Zuko (Aaron Tveit) had his heart won over the summer by preppy Sandy (Julianne Hough) at the beach.  When Danny learns that Sandy has transferred to Rydell High, Danny’s image might get in the way of their summer love.  As Danny debates what he wants to do with Sandy, Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens) has plans of her owns to throw a wrench in the romance while Frenchy (Carly Rae Jepsen) plans to leave school for beauty school.  Can a greaser and preppy find love?

Directed by Thomas Kail, Grease:  Live! follows in the footsteps of NBC’s live productions The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!, and The Wiz Live!  The TV movie combines aspects of both the 1971 stage musical and the hit 1978 film with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.


Rizzo seems even more catty in this version!

I saw the previous “Live” shows and found most of them to be ho-hum (the best being The Wiz Live).  Not being a huge fan of the original musical, but knowing it pretty decent, I was once again hesitant going into Grease:  Live!  Ignoring the story and acting, Grease:  Live! is worth watching simply due to the production value.

The story combines elements and songs from both the movie and stage play.  Virtually everyone knows the story and even if you went into Grease without knowing the story, it would be easy to figure out where it is going.  The strength of both the musical and this performance is some smart song writing and clever tie-ins to the live production.  The story does slow down a bit after the big dance scene (which goes on too long), but it does end strong.


Greased Lightning!

The cast also does a great job.  Often on these live broadcasts, people are cast due more to their look and name rather than to their ability.  Most of the cast are musical performers and have acted as well.  This allows for a better blend of acting and singing than some of the other live performances.

Hough and Tveit are good as the leads though the leads of Grease were always kind of the bland characters.  Carly Rae Jepsen and Vanessa Hudgens steal most of their scenes and Kether Donohue is also more of a character as Jan in this version (Hudgens also does remarkably well considering her father passed away from cancer just hours before the live show).  Ana Gasteyer, Wendell Pierce, Haneefah Wood, and Brady Bunch vet Eve Plumb make up the teaching staff while Mario Lopez plays a duel role as the special’s host plus Vince Fontaine.  Other cameos include Jessie J performing the title song, Boyz II Men as the Teen Angels, and Joe Jonas s Johnny Casino.  Original Grease cast members Barry Pearl and Didi Conn also have roles and Didi shares a nice moment with Frenchy who she originally portrayed.


Keeping it fun!

The best part of Grease:  Live! is by far the production.  The show already had problems with rain downpours forcing the production to change (after years of drought in California, it is ironic).  This actually added to the show with a great opening number with Jessie J which showed the difference between this production and NBC’s productions.  The show’s story also allowed an incorporated audience, and the special constantly broke the fourth wall by going off set.

As someone who works in TV, Grease:  Live! was a pretty impressive production from camera work to choreography to the simple difficulties of putting on something live when outside forces can cause change.  With a stepped up look, NBC’s live musicals need to raise the bar to the next level to be even with this performance…Grease:  Live! simply succeeded by remembering to have fun and entertain.

Related Links:

Grease (1978)

Grease 2 (1982)

The Sound of Music Live! (2013)

Peter Pan Live! (2014)

The Wiz Live! (2015)

Hairspray Live! (2016)

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (2018)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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