Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How is Grease STILL the word?

So I spent part of my Sunday night watching a new reality show called Grease: You're The One That I Want. Essentially, it is American Idol with a male and a female who will end up winning the competition. Those winners will get to play Danny Zuko and Sandy Dombrowski in a new broadway production of the musical Grease.

The producers, who were also the culprits behind Dancing With The Stars, are obviously serious about this as the three judges have great resumes. The first is Kathleen Marshall, Tony Award winning director and choreographer. She is set to direct the upcoming Broadway production of Grease. The second is original Grease co-writer Jim Jacobs. The third is the most powerful person in the UK theatre industry David Ian.

After just one episode, not one of these three judges are flighty like Paula Abdul or trying to be your buddy like Randy Jackson. It appears to be three Simon Cowell's without the "always trying to funny" vibe. The worst part of the show is the host of the show Billy Bush. He clearly does not understand the industry and foisted one contestant back on the stage for a second audition after the judges said no after the woman's first audition. The judges played along, let her have a second one. She over-inunciated the same song she did the first time, her voice cracked and the judges nicely thanked her for her time. You could see Kathleen Marshall look off-camera as if to say, "Tell that fucking host that THIS is why I have a Tony Award."

Actually, Bush's claim to fame should be his lame interview with Entourage's Jeremy Piven before the 2006 Emmy Awards. On the red carpet, Bush kept asking Piven if he'd seen any of the celebrity babies like Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's baby Violet or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby Shilo.

Piven, tired of the questions, finally said, "No, I have 116 other things to do. I don't go hunting for celebrity babies, thank you." When Bush kept asking, Piven snapped and said, "You need another job. You have potential as a human being. This may not be right for you. Seriously -- can you focus on other things?"

Apparently the first bunch of shows involves them going to Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas. Candidates are first required to do a quick singing audition. If they make it through that, they have to come back the next day for a quick dance audition. If you make it through that, you get to go to "Grease Academy". Not sure how the show's production is going to work from there. Perhaps Grease competitions with the loser being ousted each week. I can't see me lasting this long with the show.

Ratings for the first show, according to Variety magazine, were simply okay up against NFL post-game coverage, The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives. What is interesting is how this show will fare for an entire season. The show, like American Idol, is beginning at the audition process. However, they are spending too much time creating stories with candidates and not enough time showing the multitude of people who are trying out. It really looks like only 30 or 40 people are showing up at each audition. And the bulk of them are unprepared and too old for the roles. Plus, if I see one more waify blonde sing "Hopelessly Devoted To You", I may throw up. Most auditioners are using songs from Grease but there aren't that many songs that are good for an audition so it sounds like we will be hearing the same songs over and over. Overall, the show is a bit of risk. If the show fails and gets cancelled, what will that end up meaning for the broadway production?

The show was originally structured in the UK for a show called How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? A talent show to find someone to play Maria Von Trapp in West End London production of The Sound Of Music.

What I don't understand is the ongoing popularity of Grease. I've never seen the musical on stage, however I find the movie version was unwatchable.

Top 5 things wrong with the movie Grease
1. All the actors are too old. John Travolta was 24, Olivia Newton John was 30 and worst of all Stockard Channing was 34. And they are playing high school teenagers!!!!!

2. The first half of the movie isn't bad if you look at it as a spoof of 50s culture and musicals. But the second half of the film lacks any humour or anything really important to say about male/female relationships. The school dance scene is so messily directed that you really aren't able to focus on what is important or moving the plot forward.

3. At the end of the film, Travolta and Newton-John hop into a car and the car then flies away. Why does the car fly? Is this some sort of alternate universe that I don't know about?

4 (from J-Mac). Newton-John can not dance. They needed a lead female who could at least keep up with Travolta's dance ability.

5. Too many anachronims to mention from cars to planes, air conditioners to juke boxes that were clearly made after 1959 were the movie is supposed to take place. But then again, since the movie ends with a flying car...it doesn't really matter.

What kills me is that a movie like Grease continues to be loved while a British musical from 1986 entitled Absolute Beginners has been essentially forgotten. It is about that turbulent time in the late 50s in London. The time that the jazz age is over but the mucial revolution of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who has not yet begun. Musicians from Sade, Ray Davies and David Bowie all have roles in the film. Here is one of the musical sequences with Mr. Bowie.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, you really like David Bowie.

6:07 PM  

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