Grease: Live, FOX's first effort at the live musical event, is already hoping to reinvent the form. Whereas NBC's Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz all rotated scenes on one stage, Grease will move through three sets across the Warner Bros. lot, making the show less of a stage musical and more of a live movie.
Executive producer Marc Platt explained at the Television Critics Association winter previews on Friday that Grease: Live will take elements from both the theater production and iconic film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. "We are doing what we think is the best version of Grease that fits the live television event. So we've taken the best of the film — there are scenes from the film you will be amazed how we can accomplish on live TV - [and] we're taking some songs from the original stage production, like "Magic Changes" and "Freddy My Love," which Keke Palmer will sing," he said.
The show will also have a more interactive element than its NBC counterparts. The show will have a live audience that will play a role in the performance. "It's not just a live audience that will be present, but the audience will be designed into the sets, and there are many, many sets," Platt said. "They may be characters. So if you have a gymnasium and there are bleachers in the gym, then you may see audience members in those bleachers."
The show will add in new elements - like an original song written specifically for Frenchy (Carly Rae Jepsen) - as well as incorporate cameos by Didi Conn and Barry Pearl, who played Frenchy and Doody, respectively, in the film.
"It always occurred to me that Grease was this big party and everybody was invited. So how can we capture that spirit? " Platt said. "We had a chance to reach out and have some of these members of the original cast, who were also part of the stage versions of it. Didi is playing Vi, who is the waitress that that has a little scene with Frenchy."
The people behind Grease: Live are hoping that by building the spectacle they are inviting more people who wouldn't normally have access to a theater experience into the fold. "One of the things that I am most proud of with this production and what I think we are trying to convey is that there's a reason why theater has existed for thousands of years and always seems like it's going away but never does," said director Thomas Kail. "We all want to get together and sit around the campfire and have someone tell us a story. It's about coming together, galvanizing and having a community experience."