The High School Musical starlet Vanessa Hudgens is officially locked in to play the role of Rizzo in the hit musical Grease, which will be broadcast live on primetime TV. The live staging is being produced by Marc Platt and will premiere on the Fox network.
Joining Hudgens in the cast is established movie musical actress and dancer Julianne Hough as the female lead, Sandy. The production marks the third musical to be produced live on broadcast television in recent years, following suit with NBC’s productions of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood in 2013 and Peter Pan with Allison Williams and Christopher Walken this past December. Grease is not scheduled to hit the small screen until January of 2016 so there is plenty of time for thunderbird and pink lady fans to gawk over the anticipation the live staging is sure to bring.
Hudgens and Hough are the only cast members that have been announced so far. The likes of characters such as the male lead, Danny Zuko, and prominent character roles like Frenchie and Jan will gradually be announced within the next year. The live show was originally slated for a summer 2015 release, but that has been changed as the creative team is taking diligent time in the casting process to assure that they cast the best actors for the adequate roles. The appeal both Hough and Hudgens present is sure to attract a wide audience as is the popularity of the musical, itself.
NBC’s Peter Pan saw a drastic drop in ratings this year as opposed to last year’s Sound of Music success. The likelihood of Grease doing well is very high as the show’s score is widely known and is considered a pop culture classic. While Peter Pan and The Sound of Music are both considered classics in their own light as well, the music of each show is not as easily relatable to a modern audience as Grease is. NBC stated that their next live TV musical will either be The Wiz or The Music Man. Depending on the casting and the execution of the project, NBC’s production could go either way on the ratings scale.
Hudgens has been exercising her musical muscles as she has been in rehearsals for the theatrical production of Gigi, which is aiming to make a splash on the Great White Way. The crossover of film and TV stars performing in live theatre has been rather prominent in recent years. In addition to Hudgens belting it out on Broadway, the now-Oscar-nominated Emma Stone can be seen playing Sally Bowles in the revival of Cabaret, opposite of Alan Cumming as the Emcee. Although he is not singing as the aforementioned leading ladies are, Bradley Cooper can also be seen on Broadway in the play The Elephant Man. Crossover cinema and stage actors in recent years also include Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Hanks, Brook Shields, Lindsay Lohan and Alan Rickman.
Vanessa Hudgens will don the pink lady duds of Rizzo in Fox’s live TV broadcast of Grease alongside Julianne Hough as Sandy. Only time will tell who will join the rest of the iconic cast of characters as audiences wait for the broadcast on Jan. 31, 2016.
By Cody Collier