Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 5 Recap

News   Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 5 Recap Seth Rudetsky offers his own unique spin on the fifth week of the new NBC reality show, "Grease: You're the One That I Want," which will cast the lead roles of Sandy and Danny in the forthcoming Broadway revival of Grease.
Surprise!
Surprise! "Emotional Sandy" Ashley Anderson and "Second Chance Danny" Matt Nolan re-entered the competition.

The wait is over. After a barren two weeks, my life has meaning again. A new episode of "You're the One That I Want" was not broadcast last week because the Super Bowl was on, and I was, as Madame Morrible would say, "devastrated." By the way, do people in Oz really speak differently? Or do they all just have a slight learning disability? Only Winnie Holzman can tell us. All right, let's start.

First of all, for those of you tracking my eating disorder, the evening started out with me sipping a no-cal Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade and ended with me ladling out a cauldron size bowl of Cap'n Crunch. It was a two-hour episode, people! The high sugar content kept my energy up after I almost succumbed to a witty-wordplay coma from statements like "He'll be singing 'My Eyes Adored You,' but will you adore him?" and "She'll be singing 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina,' for you, but will it end in tears for her tonight?" I had no choice but to carbo load.

The first bizarre moment happened when it seemed that Denise Van Outen came as Paris Hilton. Not just outfit-wise, but facially. Is that why there was a two-week break? Was it so she could film an episode of MTV's "I Want a Famous Face"?

"Hot Danny" Austin Miller

The show started with a group version of "Summer Nights," which was pleasurable simply because it meant we didn't have to hear another version of "You're the One That I Want." The two hosts then told the potential Dannys and Sandys who were in the bottom two. From the emails I received, many people predicted it would be Matt and Ashley (who had initially been eliminated and then brought back), and they were right. Rounding out the bottom four was (former cast member of "Altar Boyz") Jason and 19-year-old Allie. Instead of voting off the two with the lowest votes, the judges decided who should go home based on the performance the bottom four give at the end of the show. I think that's much more fair than other reality shows because we all know what happens when we let America vote: Jennifer Hudson is booted off and George W Bush is elected a second time. The big event was this week's guest judge: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Or should I say Mister Sir Lord Lloyd-Webber Bouvier Rodham-Clinton. He was one of the judges on the British version of this show (about The Sound of Music) and, turns out, he has a sassy personality. And, as a side note, for those of you who dish his composing, just remember that for every light rock "Love Changes Everything," he's also written the melodically creative "Eva and Magaldi" ("To think that a man...as famous as you are…"), the funked-out "Simon Zealots" ("Christ you know I love you…") and Laurie Beechman's belt-fest "Potiphar" ("Letting out a mighty roar!"), so shut it! He was obsessed with Laura's performance of the song "Jesus Christ Superstar," but may I remind her that, though it's super cool to hear Murray Head or Ben Vereen singing it in E major, it's not as impressive when you have estrogen in your body. Take it up a fourth, lady, and belt above a B!

The theme tonight was Broadway-ish, meaning some songs were obvious hits from the Great White Way and some were pop songs that kind of had something to do with Broadway twice removed.

First up was Max who sang "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" The audience was up to their old tricks again and broke into freakishly loud applause in the middle of the song. The only apparent reason was . . . he slowly walked down the stairs. I haven't seen that big of a reaction to a stair descent since Audra left the attic in Ragtime.

"Serious Sandy" Kate Rockwell

There were also dancers in some of the numbers, and I couldn't decide if that made the numbers more exciting or took them one step closer to the "I Heart Broadway" review at Six Flags. One interesting point Andrew Lloyd Webber made was that people need to realize how hard it is to sing and dance and not sound winded. He said audiences nowadays are so used to lipsynching. I dare say they're even becoming used to it on Broadway, too….you know who you are! Producers, please note: What makes Broadway special and separate from the pop world is the thrill of seeing people sing and dance live. My shout out goes to my fave, Ashley. First of all, she sang old-school Broadway's "Take That Look Off Your Face" from Song & Dance and sounded great on the last note (a D!!!!). Brava! Andrew Lloyd Webber said the song was made famous by Denise Van Outen on the West End. Hmm…what about Marti Webb? Bernadette Peters here on Broadway? And after her, Betty Buckley? Understudy Maureen Moore? The national tour's Melissa "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" Manchester? If you're going to mention one Emma, Sir Lloyd Webber, you need to mention them all (Shout out to Alice Ripley for her D.C. production and understudy Leslie Kritzer).

Oh yeah, and since the song didn't have a strong back beat, the audience took that to mean that it was a power ballad and slowly waved their hands in the air. When any not fast song began, I was in total fear waiting for the audience waving to begin. I haven't feared a hand rising that much since I watched the ending of "Carrie" on channel Nine.

In the middle of the show, the contestants sang the title song from The Phantom of the Opera as a group number, not unlike the John Brimhall arrangement I would have begged my chorus teacher to let us in do in tenth grade. Shout out to Kevin for sounding great on the G of "The Pha-a-a-a-a-antom…" Unfortunately, instead of the cool Christine Daae obbligato section that modulates higher and higher three times at the end of the song, we were instead treated to one mid-range soprano note, sung beautifully, but held for two counts. Not cool. Sir Lloyd Webber, you owe me an ear shattering high E! ASAP!

At the end of the show, the four people at the bottom sang for the judges, and the two "second chancers" were voted off. Allie and Jayson then sang their songs and, in another bizarre moment, Allie's "Mom and Dad" were shown in the audience. But the people with the chyron under them were two men. Was it the wrong audience shot? Does Allie have two Daddies? Or is Allie's Mother a "handsome woman"?

Next week another Sandy and Danny will be eliminated and another enormous bowl of cereal will be eaten. Peace out!