Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 7 Recap

Special Features   Is "Grease" the Word?: Week 7 Recap
Seth Rudetsky offers his own unique spin on the seventh 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.
"Bellhop Danny" Kevin Greene was voted off "You're the One that I Want" Sunday.
"Bellhop Danny" Kevin Greene was voted off "You're the One that I Want" Sunday. Photo by NBC

The "Rosie" cruise ended Sunday morning, and I flew back from the sunny, warm weather of Miami to the blowing snow of New York City. What got me through my tedious flight from Miami with a layover in Charlotte, NC? Certainly not the in-flight food offering. Pretzels. What chutzpah! And how dare there be such pageantry serving it? The big, huge cart going down the aisle of the plane — the same cart that used to house my kosher vegetarian option. They're still using the behemoth of a cart, but now it houses pretzels. The flight attendants could literally walk down the aisle with all the food they were offering firmly ensconced in Danielle Ferland's basket from Into the Woods, but instead it's a "Watch your legs, people. Big cart coming through. Don't want you to be run over by the cart. This enormous cart full of pretzel sticks."

Well, to answer my own question, what got me through my flight was the thought of my precious, precious Sunday night TV — and the overstuffed sandwich I bought at the North Carolina layover.

The "You're the One that I Want" producers made the bold choice of going against the Academy Awards. And by bold, I mean, I wonder if next week's ratings will literally just be ".00000001" traced to a TV set on the Upper West Side that has an empty cereal bowl next to it.

This week was "Sandy Week," which is ironic because I just came off a sandy week on tropical beaches. (Sandy=lots of sand.) (Last joke=unfunny.)

The whole show began with all the girls singing "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee." First of all, from the low cut-ness of the negligees the girls were spilling out of, I thought it was going to be a medley from Boobs: The Musical (which actually played the Triad Theatre). Zowee! Also, they cut the "Fongool" lyric. I know it's an Italian curse, but nevertheless I felt gypped. I was sitting on my couch saying out loud to no one, "Where's the fongool?" Not unlike the time I saw the "Evita" movie and was in a rage asking, "Where's the aristocracy?" ("All my descamisados expect me to outshine the enemy, [the aristocracy]. I won't disappoint them!") Why did Madonna cut that lyric? And, on a related note, didn't the real Eva Peron have a vibrato? Why didn't the movie version? For some reason, the "Grease" audience saw fit to hold their hands up and sway throughout this first song. What's up with the knee-jerk reaction to anything not uptempo? Are they autonomotons? Is the audience bused in from Stepford?

Oh yeah, let's also take in the strangeness of doing "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" with five women. It's the first time an "in one" number has been done as a sassy opening. Next week, the remaining Sandys sing and dance the hell out of "Little Lamb."

"Seious Sandy" Kate Rockwell was eliminated from the competition
photo by NBC

Billy Bush then said that this week, as opposed to just singing and dancing, all of the Sandys had to act a scene. I guess that's what they did, but, apparently, in private. We were shown 15 seconds of scene work, and then Kathleen Marshall would tell us her critique. I guess that was to keep the show from getting too repetitive. As opposed to the 1980's version of "Star Search" where they'd make us watch the same acting category scene twice. Anybody remember? My favorite, Ashley, sang "These Boots Were Made for Walking," and although it showcased her sassy strut, I did not feel it showed her off vocals enough. Also, the song didn't have a strong button (it just suddenly ended on the fourth beat), so the audience didn't know if it was over yet. I was mortified for Ashley. It's always fun to do a number, end in a hot pose and then hear the deafening silence of an audience thinking that there's more song to come.

Allie did a really fun staged version of the Betty Hutton/Bjork song "It's Oh So Quiet." The song starts out sweet and tender and then segues into a hot big band groove, then goes back again to the slow sweet section and then switches once more to the up section. Note to audience: Don't clap along if a song changes feel/tempo constantly, unless you literally have a score sitting in your lap.

Then, for some reason, after the number, Billy Bush said, "And the Academy Award goes to Allie," reminding what few viewers who were watching to immediately switch to the Academy Awards. I think he had one of those moments when you're thinking, "Whatever you do, don't mention the Oscars," and because you're so obsessed thinking about not saying it, you say it. My friend Paul Castree was doing a show in Vegas and met Mackenzie Phillips and kept thinking, "Whatever you do, don't mention 'One Day at a Time.'" There was a slight lull in their chatting, and Paul suddenly sang (and scooped) the word "This. . .," then clamped his hands over his mouth. Mackenzie looked at him for a moment and sang back ". . .is it," finishing the opening phrase of the theme song. Brava, Mackenzie!

Laura, who got the best judges comments of the evening, performed "Fever" backed up by two hot Dannys, who reminded me of the eighties nightclub classic, "Chita Plus Two." Anybody? The Danny and Sandy that had the lowest votes, Kevin and Kate, were also voted off by the judges. Wah! I love Kevin's voice so much! Someone must put him in Forever Plaid stat!

The others in the bottom two were Chad and Kathleen. Kathleen was saved for her acting chops, but after she performed was told by Kathleen Marshall that she may be wrong for the part. Kathleen said that she's more of a soubrette, causing America to scratch its collective head. She then explained it by saying, "You're more an Ado Annie than a Laurey," again causing America to scratch its collective head, but the American Musical & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) class of '07 to say, "Exactly!"

The special guest this week was Frankie Avalon, who I first thought must be 103 years old because every time they cut to him to tell us he was coming up, he was filmed through muslin, surrounded by anti-aging fog. It was crazy. But then when he performed, he looked and sounded great, prompting Billy Bush to ask for his Pilates instructor, making Frankie Avalon scratch his collective head.

Anyhoo, next week is all Danny week, so get ready for some beefcake!


[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]

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