First of all, YES JESSIE J! She looked amazing (those red shoes!) and sounded even better. We loved this "live" version of the opening credits — galavanting through the halls of Rydell and the soundstages of the Warner Brothers backlot. It gave us a clue that we were going to see more of the backstage magic than ever, and it totally worked. (Also: Ana Gasteyer riffing with Boyz II Men.)
The first of many amazing sightings. Remember the name Haneefah Wood.
The first true showcase of Zach Woodlee's awesome choreography. That tucked swing move that the T-Birds did on the bleachers…WERK. Also: Aaron Tveit's option up and our first listen at Julianne Hough's belting. Can we talk about how much energy there was in that gym?
Way to put Hough's ballroom prowess to work. The addition of the cheer-off between Sandy and Patty Simcox was an excellent touch, and Hough was able to pull it off without seeming like Sandy was showing off. Points for sharpness, that high kick and jumps!
Danny's Pinky Ring
Yes…he's been wearing it the whole time, but somehow we missed it until now. It is amazing.
We know that the cast got super close throughout rehearsals, but you could feel that dynamic. Not to mention, these actors really brought out the individuality of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Keke Palmer sassed us into oblivion, and Andrew Call brought something to the role of Sonny we have never seen before. More, please.
It was a great call to have Mario Lopez double as the backstage host before we met him as Vince Fontaine within the story of Grease. This is in Lopez's wheelhouse, and we loved feeling a part of the action.
The Live Audience
Like Danny's ring, it was there from the start, but we purposefully saved mention until their appearance in "Greased Lightnin'." The live audience is an ingredient we have been asking to be added to the recipe of these live musical events for some time. A live audience is a huge part of the magic of theatre. If these musical events aim to bring theatre to the homes of millions, they should include every element of that experience. The energy the audience added was palpable from the parade-like "Grease is the Word," but it was thrilling when Danny exclaimed "Why, it could be Greased Lightnin'!" to huge cheers!
This number had so much energy we were jumping out of our seats…uhm, couch cushions. The T-Birds and male ensemble really put the pedal to the metal; and the female ensemble dancers were on fire. The routine featured another amazing costume transformation moment, courtesy of wardrobe magician William Ivey Long (the first of which came in "Freddy My Love").
We make it to Frosty's and realized that we've been treated to detailed pristine sets all along. Bravo to production designer David Korins for immersing home audiences in the 1950s world of Grease. We definitely never felt like we were on a soundstage.
What a moment to see Didi Conn as Vi, the no-nonsense waitress, comforting the newest Frenchy (played by Carly Rae Jepsen). The homage to the movie — and great performers — was a touching moment.
"Those Magic Changes"
Jordan Fisher's silky smooth vocals renewed this tune. But, one moment the world will be talking about: Tveit and Fisher's epic duet. That was the sound of hearts melting across the nation.
Tveit can dance! He did not disappoint as the hot-footed Danny Zuko during the dance competition. He and Hough couldn't have been more adorable. Their chemistry worked from the top of the show — which is crucial to pull off this story — and in this moment, they were really jiving.
Even under the tragic circumstances, Hudgens proved that she is not only a trooper, but extremely talented. From "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" to "There Are Worse Things I Could Do," she handled the vocals and the nuances of the role beautifully.
The Curtain Call
In a moment of true class, all of the ensemble members were granted separate bows, followed by the featured and principal casts. Everyone worked darn hard and, in theatrical tradition, every role was recognized.
OUR FAVORITE ONE-LINERS:
"Our lives don't revolve around men. We girls gotta be our own people — like they tell us in Home Ec." - Frenchy
"Nothing makes a cheerleader more nervous than when she's late." - Principal McGee
Rizzo: "8:30 is that past your bedtime?"
Sandy: "No. On Fridays it's not til 10."
Frenchy: "I'm through with Emily Dickinson!"
Marty: "She that sophomore?"
Blanche: "What if something goes wrong?"
Mr. Weaver: "That doesn't matter, the TV audience is very forgiving."
Patty: "Call me!"
"When I hear music, I just can't make my feet behave." - Blanche