A Belated Review of Grease: Live!

Yup. That’s how far behind the times I am. Denisa and I took a few weeks to watch Fox’s entry into the live musical trend, going with Grease this time. I turned it on, apprehensive. I watched The Sound of Music, which I thought was pretty much a train wreck, and because of that experience, I stayed away from Peter Pan and The Wiz.

But while I heard middling things about Pan, I heard good vibes coming from the Wiz, and Grease is a musical I’ve always enjoyed, so I thought . . . why not? What could it hurt?

It was supposed to be a mix between the movie version and the stage version, and my brother was in the stage version, so I had some familiarity with both. Still worried that it would try too hard to ape the Travolta pic, but I’m very pleased to say that it managed to do its own thing and be very successful with it, for the most part. If you like musicals at all, I encourage you to check this one out. It’s going to be re-aired on the 27th of this month.

What was to like about it? It did some really cool things with costume changes and set changes, for one thing. It was fun to try and see what they were going to do and how they were going to pull some things off. Not always 100% successful, but always entertaining to watch them try.

Another big plus is the fact that they chose people who can actually sing to be in the roles. I particularly liked the production of “Magic Changes.” Great voice, and a lot of fun. The cast really seemed to be invested in the production in a way Carrie Underwood never was in Sound of Music.

Of course, it wasn’t flawless. The Boyz II Men number had some issues, and the climax of the whole thing felt like a blatant rip off of the movie, which was too bad, but other than that, good times.

Then again, there’s the underlying message that runs throughout Grease that kind of rubs me the wrong way. The concept that you need to sell out on who you are and become someone you’re not to make it through high school. But at the same time, in this production, it came across a bit differently to me, and maybe that’s because it’s been a while since I watched the musical. This time through, I couldn’t but reflect on how fleeting high school really is, and how the identity you create for yourself in that strange environment can end up being pretty far from who you really end up becoming. Not always, but some of the time.

Can you blame kids for flailing around a little to figure all of that out?

Anyway. Perhaps deeper thoughts than what this production was going for, but there you have it. If you haven’t already seen it, I encourage you two watch it when it comes back to the airwaves. I gave it a 4/5.

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