Grease: Live may not be the first TV musical event to hit the small screen in recent years, but the team behind Fox’s first foray into the genre is looking to shake things up.
“We are embracing the fact that it’s live,” director Thomas Kail (Hamilton) tells EW.
Unlike NBC’s telecasts of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, Grease:Live will be performed on more than one soundstage (in fact, two soundstages and the Warner Bros. backlot) and in front of a live audience of approximately 650 fans.
“With The Wiz, a song would end and your heart would be exploding, but then there was just complete silence,” says costume designer William Ivey Long (Hairspray). “We’re going to have an audience there to burst into applause.”
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Where The Wiz Live! added a new song to the performance, Grease: Live will feature a new song by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (If/Then) for wannabe beautician Frenchy (“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen), a fleshed-out subplot for Sandy (Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough) and Rizzo (High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens) and a combination of elements from the 1972 Broadway musical and 1978 film.
“We’re paying homage to the film, but this isn’t a remake,” says Jepsen. “It’s a completely new version.”
Grease: Live airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.
A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1400/01, on newsstands now