Since almost all of us use a DVR or watch tv online now, it’s so rare for me to watch something live. Unless it’s an awards show, I’m usually watching a recording of it. I know that most people also watch sports live, but I rarely watch sports (I do watch the Super Bowl for the commercials).
But when NBC started to do live musicals (even though they are taped delayed for the west coast), I got really excited to watch them. While I didn’t love The Sound Of Music or Peter Pan, it was still really excited to live-tweet along with others about what was happening and feel like I was a part of something special. And when The Wiz ended up being so great, I got really enthusiastic about live musicals on TV.
FOX did Grease Live this past weekend and for the first time I decided to have a viewing party at my house. I figured it could be really fun whether the musical was amazing or was a bit of a disappointment. So I invited a bunch of my friends and said that I would provide the drinks if they wanted to bring snacks.
My friends Rayshell, June, and Amanda (who I know from Orangetheory) came over to watch on Sunday. And even though none of my friends had met each before, it ended up being the perfect group (and all of them ended up bringing dessert treats to share!).
As soon as Grease Live started, I made a joke about how the green screen wasn’t that realistic looking. But as soon as the camera pulled away and I saw that they were acknowledging that this was a live event happening all over the Warner Bros. backlot, I knew that this was going to be something special. For all the other live musicals, they never really seemed to treat it any differently than having a play being taped. But Grease Live really did seem to want to show off all the hard work that they did.
After that initial joke about the green screen, there wasn’t much joking among the group. We did joke about funny moments and character choices, but it was all in a very positive way and more enjoyment than snark. I didn’t even end up live-tweeting because I was so enthralled by the show.
I loved seeing them all over the backlot (I know it well from working there as an actor and back in 2005 as a tour guide and being there for the SAG-AFTRA Gala) and shared fun facts about the backlot with my friends. And I loved seeing them use the tour guide golf carts to get from one stage to another (they even drove my favorite cart, #9)! I did have a moment where my heart felt like it would stop when the golf cart started to tip in the end of the show (I know how unstable those golf carts are), but fortunately the cart didn’t tip over.
It didn’t feel like a live production because of all the hard work the cast and crew had done over the past few weeks. They had everything perfectly choreographed and timed out so that the audience only saw what they wanted us to see and nothing was delayed. I mean, look at how perfectly the associate director did the camera moves for just part of a song! I know that every cast and crew of a live production work hard, but this one just took things to another level. And since the sets were full rooms (not just the set facing a wall of cameras) it felt so different from all the other live musicals (although I did say that in a way that made it feel less like a live production at times)
My friends all agreed with me that this was the best live musical that we’ve seen on TV. There was very little that we would have changed about the show and we all had a great time watching it. And I think that getting together to watch the live musicals will be a new tradition (another adventure with friends to add to my goals list!) and we are already planning on trying to be together for the one happening in March.
I really went into watching Grease Live thinking I wouldn’t love it, but I’m so happy that I was wrong and it ended up being such a fun thing to watch and experience with everyone.