As far as movie-lovers go, those specifically partial to musicals tend to be the most protective of their cult favorites. For this reason, the newest television trend — live re-makes of classic musical films — has been met with some resistance.
Starting with “The Sound of Music” – which fared pretty well with both the lead, Carrie Underwood’s name recognition and powerful voice – the trend continued with musicals like “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Wiz Live!” with star power coming from crowd favorites like Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige. Ratings varied on the live premieres, but the concept has done well enough that television producers aren’t done yet.
Recently, Fox joined the fun and premiered the live re-make of beloved classic, “Grease.” which earned 12.2 million viewers on its opening night . This came in second only to the first live musical, Miss Underwood’s “The Sound of Music.” Singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens lit up the stages (there were twenty one in total) as Rizzo. Broadway and film singer (including “Les Miserables”) re-creating the head T-Bird in a way that still paid homage to John Travolta’s Danny. Surprise appearances from celebrities like Joe Jonas, Mario Lopez and Boyz II Men entertained throughout.
But overall, Julianne Hough stole the spotlight as Sandy Young — dancing, singing, and cheering her way into our hearts. The added scenes for Sandy really helped make her character more dynamic than the original, in my opinion, making her more relateable and sympathetic. Because of this, her transformation at the end was less out-of-nowhere and genuinely substantive.
The actors, songs, dances, costumes and sets all exceeded my expectations for a live show. So if television producers want to keep airing live versions of my favorite musicals, I say go right ahead. The purists may not enjoy them, but I certainly will.