We’ve got chills and they’re multiplying, because the word is that “Grease” is coming to Fox. The network will air a live, three-hour production of the musical next year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Last year, the TV special “The Sound of Music Live” was a ratings smash for NBC (the network now has “Peter Pan Live” in the works), so it’s no surprise that Fox is jumping on the live musical bandwagon. And while it will be based on the original 1971 Broadway musical and not the popular 1978 movie, Fox will incorporate the songs written for the film version. (That means yes, you’ll probably hear “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want.”)
Shana C. Waterman, senior VP of event series for Fox, touted the musical’s broad appeal and added, “Its iconic characters and addictive songs make it the perfect fit for Fox, and we’re going to give it the kind of star power and production quality to make every Sandy, Danny, Rizzo and Kenickie out there want to get up and sing along.”
Speaking of the characters, there’s some pretty iconic shoes to fill. Who’s your pick for Fox’s “young ensemble cast?” Check out some past stars who’ve starred in productions of “Grease” and who could turn up in 2015.
Broadway: Barry Bostwick
Movie: John Travolta
Singer Adam Lambert has the singing chops and the stage presence to play Danny Zuko in the live TV version, but at age 32 is he too old? (Travolta was 23 when he played the role.) Here’s a surprising past Danny: In 1973, Richard Gere starred as the Burger Palace Boys leader in the London production of “Grease.” Check out the stock footage here.
Broadway: Carole Demas
Movie: Olivia Newton-John
“American Idol” alum Kellie Pickler would make an adorable Sandy (hey, Carrie Underwood starred in NBC’s “Sound of Music” last year!), but others are calling for superstar Taylor Swift for the starring role. In the early 1990s, pop star Debbie Gibson played Sandy in the stage version at London’s Dominion Theatre.
See Gibson’s electrifying performance of “You’re the One That I Want” here.
Broadway: Adrienne Barbeau
Movie: Stockard Channing
“Glease” is the word, so don’t be surprised if a “Glee” cast member turns up on the TV musical (it’s being produced by Fox, after all.) So, how about Naya Rivera as Rizzo? “Glee” fans may recall her character Santana’s awesome performance of the song “There are Worse Things I Could Do” on a “Grease”-themed episode of the Fox series. Another pick: Pop star Demi Lovato could definitely fill Rizzo’s Pink Ladies jacket. Rizzo blast from the past: Rosie O’Donnell played the character in the 1994 Broadway revival of “Grease.”
See O’Donnell interview a fellow Rizzo here.
Broadway: Timothy Meyers
Movie: Jeff Conaway
Who has what it takes to be Danny’s “second” at Thunder Road? Interesting names are being tossed around for this part, including Zap 2 It’s pick of pop star Cody Simpson. Kenickie with an Australian accent? We like it! But another popular choice is “High School Musical alum Zac Efron. Of course, the Kenickie by which all others are measured is the late Jeff Conaway. (His hickies are like Hallmarks, remember?)
See Conway and John Travolta in a scene from the 1978 film here.
As for who will nab the coveted cameo role of dreamy Teen Angel, on Broadway it was Alan Paul, while the legendary Frankie Avalon turned up in the movie to croon “Beauty School Dropout.” In fact, everyone from Chubby Checker to Jimmy Osmond to ex-Monkee Davy Jones has delivered this ballad in the past. So, who looks good for the upcoming Fox musical? How about Justin Timberlake, who covered the iconic song at a London concert last year?