Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 6 Recap

News   Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 6 Recap Seth Rudetsky offers his own unique spin on the sixth 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.

"Boy Band Danny" Jason Celaya was eliminated after receiving the fewest votes again this week.
"Boy Band Danny" Jason Celaya was eliminated after receiving the fewest votes again this week. Photo by NBC

Okay, people. I was traumatized when I realized that my first day on the "Rosie" cruise would conflict with my watching "You're The One That I Want." Not only does the boat not get NBC on the in-cabin TVs, but the first big cruise show that I was music directing was Sunday night, so I couldn't even call my friend Tim at 8 PM and have him hold the phone up to the TV so I could at least hear it. (PS, for those of you in your early twenties, that's how we used to tape TV before VCRs and DVR.) The devastating part is that my family only spent money on things like going out to dinner but never on things that were actually practical, so I was pathetically taping TV like that way past an appropriate time. I still have my cassette of the 1986 Tony Awards. The good part is that Judy Kuhn sounds amazing on "Rags" — the bad part is it was 1986 and I was a 19 year old, holding a tape recorder up to a black-and-white TV set.

Anyhoo, when I realized the conflict, I fired off an emergency e-mail to Andrew Gans, and he said he would FedEx a DVD of the show to my first port. This morning we arrived in Puerto Rico, and I had a very special package waiting for me. I rushed to my room and watched it in its entirety, pausing only to run up to the buffet for my third lunch.

Okay, let's start the re-cap.

The show opened with a group version of "Born to Hand Jive." Each Danny and Sandy got his or her own chance to shine, and it was fascinating watching them not only try to oversell their individual solos but also show their acting chops with phrases like "I could barely walk when I milked a cow" and "the be-bop stork was about to arrive, Mama gave birth to the Hand Jive." I haven't seen such subtextual work since the Tony Awards had actors read signature lines from 50 years of Best Plays, and Bea Arthur turned to camera one and said, with no lead in whatsoever, "Attention . . . attention must be paid!" I've heard of doing 16 bars, but never from a play.

This week's guest judge was not Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, but rather Señor Jon Secada. You might think that's a random choice, but let me remind you that he played Danny Zuko in the nineties revival. I was in the pit at that time and I remember that he sounded fantastic. Also this week, the show mixed things up by doing the elimination first. After last week's episode, there seemed to be a big public outcry about the judges having the final say of who gets voted off (and by public, I mean the public on Talkin' Broadway). This week Denise Van Outen said that once the semi-finals begin, the decisions will be made only by the viewers. That being said, the two voted off this week (Jason and Juliana) were also the two with the lowest votes. I guess Juliana can go back to being a temp since that's what's been chyroned underneath her throughout the show, even though she was in the national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Why do the producers try to pretend that no one has any professional theatrical experience except for Austin? I think all the contestants full resumes should be chyroned underneath them at all times, including their so-called special skills and "commercial conflicts available upon request."

 

"Rock Chick Sandy" Juliana Hansen was eliminated after last week's performance of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."
photo by NBC

This week the Dannys and Sandys performed in couples, and Allie and Chad started out with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Chad looked spiffy; Allie was wearing a short dress with high heels, and they were both getting down with the groove. I couldn't decide if I was turned on, or if I had the feeling one gets from watching the front receptionist and junior accountant at the office Christmas party dirty dancing. Regardless, most judges said that they were the two to beat this week.

Derek and Kate sang "From This Moment On," and Derek started out vocally shaky but then shockingly sassafrased his high note. I was reminded of the "All That Jazz" reprise from the original Chicago cast album where Chita sings "…and All…..That…" feigning she has vocal damage from too much 1920's smoke and booze and then suddenly belts "Ja-a-a-a-a-a-azz" clear as a bell with full vibrato. And it's a D!

Even though this is a Broadway reality show, all the duets were pop songs. Bring on the show tunes! Where was "If Mama was Married?" "All For the Best?" "Loathing"?

The contestants also turned standard solo songs into duets, aka Kevin and Kathleen singing Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About." Afterwards Kathleen Marshall told Kathleen the contestant that she wanted to see "more of the girl, less of the woman," a note that was once, unfortunately, given to me. After everyone sang, the two voted off had to sing their goodbye song. In The Sound of Music reality show in England, the contestants sang "So long, farewell" to the departing Marias, but here the losing Danny sings "Sandy" and the losing Sandy sings the reprise of "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee" while the remaining contestants look on sadly, with cold, cold eyes. The most awkward part is that as the Danny leaves the men sing "Why-yi-yi-yi" but wave forlornly and change it to "Bye-yi-yi-yi-." As my therapist would say, passive-aggressive.

Next week, we'll find out who gets voted off and perhaps the remaining contestants will sing trios. "A Heart Full of Love"? Anybody?

Stay tuned for an update about this year's cruise … coming soon!

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[Seth Rudetsky is the host of "Seth's Big Fat Broadway" on SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the author of "The Q Guide to Broadway." For two years Rudetsky was the pianist/assistant conductor for the 1994 revival of Grease!. He can be contacted by visiting www.sethsbroadwaychatterbox.com.]