One of the latest fads sweeping network television is the production of live musicals for primetime, and Fox aired a winner with Grease: Live. A highlight of the musical was Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Rizzo. Hudgens was one of the first to be cast, and she stole the show more than a few times in the three-hour special despite a personal tragedy. She has taken to Instagram to thank fans for their support for the show.
It’s great to see that Vanessa Hudgens had such a good time with Grease: Live, especially since she was one of the most entertaining to watch. In fact, Hudgens was so engaging as Rizzo that were it not for a dedication at the end of the show to a Greg Hudgens, nobody could have guessed that she had suffered a very recent loss.
Vanessa Hudgens’ father passed away after a battle with cancer only the day before she was expected to take the stage and tackle one of the most iconic and challenging roles of musical theater. Instead of choosing to understandably sit out the performance, Hudgens embraced the “show must go on” mentality and blew the minds of viewers everywhere.
Even without the tragedy, Vanessa Hudgens faced a tough task by taking on Rizzo. Along with John Travolta’s Danny and Olivia Newton John’s Sandy, Stockard Channing’s Rizzo is the version of the character most widely known thanks to the 1978 film version of Grease. Any performer to don the Pink Lady jacket as Rizz would be compared to Channing, but Hudgens made the role her own throughout Grease: Live.
Rizzo has always had one of the most heartfelt songs in the soundtrack of mostly peppy numbers with “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” and knowing now that Vanessa Hudgens had so recently lost her father only makes the scene from Grease: Live all the more poignant. Her tears and sadness were real, but her vocals didn’t waver.
Vanessa Hudgens also handled the dancing in the National Bandstand sequence wonderfully. She kept up with the hand-jivin’ of the professional dancers, and her high energy and contagious smile in the competition were far from mournful.
All in all, Grease: Live surely wouldn’t have been such a hit if not for Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. Considering that she was previously best known for her distinctly un-Rizzo role of Gabriella in the High School Musical franchise, the range that she showed in Grease: Live could lead her to bigger and better things. At the very least, if she ever gets the chance to take on the role again, we can be sure that she’ll nail it. As of now, we need to commend her for bringing her very best to the small screen at a trying time in her life.
Personally, I also may need to buy the soundtrack and a Coke. Not nearly enough time has passed for the songs of Grease: Live to get out of my head. Maybe Tyler Perry’s live Jesus musical this spring will do the trick.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).