7 Behind-the-Scenes Facts You Didn't Know About Grease Live
Grease is the word, and TheaterMania is here to spread it far and wide. We spent some time behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Studios, getting a sneak preview of Fox's January 31 broadcast of Grease: Live and discovered a few fun facts about the production and its illustrious stars. Before the lights go up on Rydell High, learn who in the cast is a Grease newbie, who is going gaga over Boyz II Men, and who couldn’t score tickets to Hamilton (it’s not just you).
1. Kether Donohue lands the part of Jan, but her audition goes less than swimmingly.
"I actually sang 'Summer Nights'…both the male and female roles," said Donohue. "I forgot the lines and I tripped."
2. Keke Palmer makes history.
She was Broadway's first African-American Cinderella, and now as Marty, she'll be the first African-American Pink Lady in a major presentation of this classic musical. "My little brother and sister get to watch this show and they get to actually see the world that's around them," commented Palmer on the diverse cast. "They're going to be introduced to Grease in the way the world is today."
3. Carly Rae Jepsen shares the piece of advice that made her career.
Since her 2012 smash-hit single "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen's career has taken off like a rocket, including a stop on Broadway in Cinderella (a role she then passed off to her fellow Pink Lady Keke Palmer). So what's the key to her success? "I remember being in the car…listening to Bob Dylan," Jepsen said. "I asked my mother what it would take for me to become famous as a singer and she told me, 'Just have a weird voice.'" Jepsen took this call to weirdness as a challenge to find her authentic voice, and here she is — about to debut a brand-new song by Broadway's Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey live on national television. Mother knows best.
4. Scene change? Cue the golf carts.
The set for Grease: Live is sprawled across two sound stages and the back lot at Warner Bros. What that means for the production is that all of Rydell High has to hitch a ride to the big carnival at the end of the musical if they want to make it in time for the finale. As they sing their "rama lamas," the kids will hop into golf carts behind one of the sound stages and will be transported to the back lot where their graduation festivities await…rain or shine.
5. No, the cast can't get tickets to Hamilton either.
For this talented group of actors, Grease: Live is not just a forum for historic innovation, creative collaboration, and a joyful musical theater experience – it's the key to Hamilton orchestra seats. Or so they thought. Hamilton director Thomas Kail also leads the Fox production and unwittingly dangled this enticing carrot in front of his actors' noses. Kether Donohue made an attempt before the holidays, asking Kail, "I'm flying home for Christmas…Can I get Hamilton tickets?" Kail's response: "You have to give me five weeks notice." Turns out even the man at the helm of the musical of the century can't pull strings at the Richard Rodgers.
6. Aaron Tveit LOVES Boyz II Men.
The famed '90s R&B group collectively takes on the role of Teen Angel for Fox's Grease telecast, and our very-own Danny Zuko, Aaron Tveit, is pretty psyched about it. "That was the first CD I ever bought with my own money — Cooleyhighharmony," Tveit said. "I used to take my eleven-year-old self and try to sound like them every day in my room. I'm gonna try to play it cool for the first five minutes when they're there, but all bets are off after that."
7. Six de-Grease of separation.
Grease: Live's Jan, Kether Donohue, played the role of Frenchy in her eighth-grade musical; Carly Rae Jepsen, who now plays Frenchy, starred as Sandy in high school; and before becoming Fox's Sandy, a young Julianne Hough put on a rousing production of the classic show in her basement: "I was Sandy — and then during the dance scene I turned into Cha-Cha." (Side note: Aaron Tveit makes his Grease debut with this production…We were shocked as well).