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 Review: Spectacle of ‘Grease: Live!’ Puts Moments Above Story

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مُساهمةموضوع: Review: Spectacle of ‘Grease: Live!’ Puts Moments Above Story    الإثنين فبراير 01, 2016 11:50 am

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Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough
in a scene from “Grease: Live!,”
which aired on Fox on Sunday.


MICHAEL BECKER / FOX
By NEIL GENZLINGER

FEBRUARY 1, 2016

When Fox’s “Grease: Live!”
reached its celebratory
conclusion on Sunday, opinions
about it no doubt differed, but
one thing was clear: The live-
musicals-on-television trend is no
longer about trying to capture
the magic of being in a
Broadway house, if it ever was.
The “Grease” that the director
Thomas Kail (of Broadway’s
“Hamilton”) served up was
cinematic, impressively so, with
its countless cameras, its tracking
shots, its zooms, its galloping
from soundstage to soundstage.
Executing such a production live
must have required an
unbelievable amount of
coordination and technical
expertise. But, despite the
presence of a live audience for
parts of it, the experience for
viewers wasn’t remotely theater.
Good theater is spine-tingling;
“Grease: Live!” was spectacle.
That’s not a criticism; it’s just a
statement of what our
expectations should be as this
fad continues. Live TV versions of
“Hairspray,” “The Rocky Horror
Picture Show” and more are in
the pipeline, and Mr. Kail’s
production certainly raised the
bar in terms of how much razzle-
dazzle, innovation and star
power these extravaganzas will
need to have. If there were
thoughts back in 2013 when NBC
began this trend with “ The
Sound of Music Live!” that the
point was merely to bring
beloved stage music to a national
audience, they’re gone now. This
“Grease” was in a sense a new
art form: not theater; more like
“Grease” the movie, but
performed live.
Some of Mr. Kail’s brainstorms
worked pretty well. The show
began with Jessie J doing a
backstage walkabout while
singing “Grease Is the Word,” an
attention-getting device that was
reminiscent of the opening
numbers of some recent Tony
Awards broadcasts. The first
serious sign that this was
something more than a filmed
stage production, though, was
when Marty (Keke Palmer, who
was a treat) sang a number
called “Freddy My Love” that
morphed from a pajama party
into a lavish dream sequence
featuring a runway promenade.
It might be technically possible to
execute such a thing onstage,
but this was a concept that was
greatly enhanced by television’s
versatility.
And there were more such
moments as the night went on.
The crowd-pleasing “Greased
Lightning” was nicely energized
by multiple camera perspectives.
Carly Rae Jepsen, playing Frenchy,
was given a song written just for
this production, and it blended
into a gauzy “Beauty School
Dropout” sung by Boyz II Men in
a way that wouldn’t have been
clumsy onstage. A drag race was
made at least moderately
convincing with some smoke,
tricks of light and amusing
camera angles.
What happens, though, when
spectacle replaces intimacy is
that characters and story
disappear, too. Julianne Hough
was impressive as Sandy,
especially in the dance numbers;
Aaron Tveit’s Danny was
serviceable; and Vanessa
Hudgens, whose father had died
the night before, deserves some
kind of prize for gutting through
Rizzo. The actors did fine, but the
characters and their arcs became
secondary to executing the
grand scheme.
This, in other words, was a show
that was more about individual
moments than about building a
story. Perhaps that was
deliberate, the assumption being
that everyone already knew the
story and would be more
interested in microanalysis: Were
the added songs any
improvement over the omitted
songs? (Answer: No.) Were the
topical flourishes and meta-
wisecracks worth the
distraction? (Answer: No.) Did the
choices between which lyrics in
the rather raunchy original to
clean up and which to leave
unaltered make any sense?
(Answer: No.)
Between small debating points
like those and the show’s bigger
distractions (the live audience
being the biggest, and most ill-
advised), what used to be the
heart of “Grease” back when it
was a rough-and-tumble
newcomer in the early 1970s
was nowhere to be found. Too
bad, because that “Grease” —
pre-John Travolta and Olivia
Newton-John; pre-sanitization
for use in high schools; pre-
addition of Top-40-ready tunes
— had a lot of merit. Sunday’s
version did, too, but merit of a
glossy, technically proficient kind.
Theatrical magic is something
entirely different.


source: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/02/02/arts/television/grease-live-review-vanessa-hudgens.html?_r=0&referer=




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Review: Spectacle of ‘Grease: Live!’ Puts Moments Above Story
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