Though we have to wait until January 31 to see Julianne Hough don Sandy's skintight black togs, the first preview photos of Fox's “Grease Live!”, a live retelling of that classic story at Rydell High, are now available. It seems clear this version is inspired by the '78 movie version since Hough, playing the part of Sandy Olsson, is styled exactly like Olivia Newton-John. Aaron Tveit as Danny Zuko looks more like Kenickie from the movie (Jeff Conaway), but his attitude is Travoltian.
And if Vanessa Hudgens isn't entering Stockard Channing lookalike contests in the near future, she's missing out.
Those are very convincing imitations of the '78 cast. The only problem: Who wants to see convincing imitations of the '78 cast? “Grease” is the single most iconic musical of the 1970s. Everyone knows the songs, the look, and the way the actors were styled. In order to tell its story again without seeming like a pointless retread, you need an aesthetic overhaul. You definitely don't want to change the songs or the story, so why not alter the hairstyles and costumes while remaining true to the 1950s? Because these preview photos look like sketches for a Madame Tussaud's exhibit, not thrilling advertisements for a live event.
I'm excited to see how Carly Rae Jepsen updates Didi Conn's take on Frenchie and whether Ana Gasteyer tries a new version of Principal McGee, who was played by Eve Arden in the original, but the vibe I'm getting from these stills is more plasticine than innovative. “The Wiz Live!” looks like it's going to pair classic songs with witty new takes on the characters; I hope this production has more greased lightning in its arsenal than it's letting on.