Why Grease: Live Almost Had A Different, Very Last-Minute Opening Number

Last Sunday’s airing of Grease: Live on FOX was an overall visual and theatrical triumph. FOX was able to take the precedent set by NBC’s live musical events and expand upon the scale and technical possibilities to create a show that used multiple locations and felt like a movie. The scale of the production was made evident during the opening number where pop vocalist Jessie J sang the title song and stomped through the gargantuan set of the show. Well, it turns out that number almost lost its effectiveness due to poor weather conditions.

In a recent interview with Access Hollywood Aaron Tveit, who played Danny Zuko in Grease: Live, opened up regarding the opening number that very nearly had to change:

Sunday, right before we went, because the weather was so bad, 15 minutes before we went on, we were rehearsing a completely different opening number that we were just gonna do on the fly. And then the fire marshal at the last minute said we were good to go with the stuff that we did.

This sounds bananas. But, as they say, the show must go on. Through the 3 hour run of Grease: Live, we saw the effects of the poor weather happening. Cast members had to rock umbrellas for some of the outside moments when they couldn’t be under the cover.

Additionally, Aaron Tveit goes on to say that the covering itself was the main issue, rather than the rain. The set was being berated with extremely powerful winds, and the fire marshal was concerned that it might not be safe for the cast and crew to be underneath said covering. Luckily for everyone at FOX, a last minute call was made and the show was able to go on as planned. Part of the magic of live television is the possibility that a disaster would occur.

While Grease: Live was an overall success, it wasn’t without it’s technical issues. During the big dance at the gym, there were a few seconds where the sound completely cut off. The juxtaposition between the mute moment and the otherwise loud and boisterous band made for a strange viewing experience. Additionally, the finale number had a moment where the cast was driving their go-carts to the final set. Well, one of the carts ended up hitting the sidewalk and very nearly toppled over with a car full of cast members. Luckily, everyone ended up being ok.

I’m eager to see what FOX puts together for this summer’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, although that production won’t be performed live.

Check out Aaron Tveit’s full interview with Access Hollywood below.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.