The world of musical theatre has been growing in trends in recent years with NBC’s productions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan being broadcast live on national television. It seems as if Fox is now taking the reins in this situation, as the network has announced that the hit show Grease will become the next live musical for primetime TV and will broadcast on their network.
These TV musicals have combined some of the best stars of Hollywood and Broadway in one production the past two years. In 2013, renown musician Carrie Underwood performed alongside Tony Winners Audra McDonald and Christian Borle in The Sound of Music and in this year’s production of Peter Pan showcased the likes of established stage and screen star Christopher Walken with Allison Williams and the beloved theater actress Kelli O’Hara.
With Grease, only two of the casting choices are known at this point. Two of the show’s leading ladies are already locked in with two actresses who have been known for their turns in movie musicals. Julianne Hough from films such as Rock of Ages and Safe Haven will play the iconic role of Sandy in Grease. The second announced cast member is High School Musical and Spring Breakers star Vanessa Hudgens as Sandy’s bad-girl friend Rizzo.
Both actresses have proved their vocal chops as singers in numerous projects and both have experience in performing for live audiences in the masses. Hough is known for her time on the reality dance competition Dancing With the Stars, which is considered by many to be a huge catapult for the actress’s career. Hudgens played the role of Mimi in a live staging of the rock musical Rent at the Hollywood Bowl for a limited run.
The producer of the new live production of Grease, Marc Platt, has managed to grab hold of the current musical theatre phenomena before it fades away. As NBC’s ratings for Peter Pan this year were significantly lower than that of The Sound of Music, many began to wonder if the tradition the network was attempting to create would hold on for much longer. Platt perhaps saw a flaw in NBC’s method, as both of their musicals are cherished, but still rather classic and difficult to adjust for a modern TV audience. Grease, however has had a strong following ever since the original 1978 film was released. The new live production is said to be re-imagined for a brand new generation of musical lovers.
This is a very tactical approach to the production on Fox’s part, as the world of live theatre has seemed to have been set aside in mainstream media for the past few years. The inclusion of theatrical performance alongside television and film in equal measure is an act that has been long in waiting. Bringing musicals and live theatre to the forefront for a new generation can be considered an exciting movement in the entertainment industry as the young viewers of today may receive a much more creative outlet than those before them.
As Grease becomes the next live musical for primetime TV, audiences’ anticipation will only continue to grow to see who else will be featured in the performance and how the update for a new generation will come to life. Fans will have plenty of time to imagine their dream cast for a new Grease as the show is not scheduled to premiere until Jan. 31, 2016.
By Cody Collier
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