Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2007

Grease’ tryouts to air on television

Audience will select the ones that they want

January 7, 2007


It's not that the producers of a new Broadway revival of "Grease" couldn't find their leads the conventional way.

It's just that putting the open-call auditions on TV both empowers the audience to choose people - newcomers or not - they want to see in the roles and creates a lot of prime-time publicity for the stage show.

Recruiting Broadway leads through TV has proved to be a successful ploy in London, where newcomer Connie Fisher was chosen to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End revival of "The Sound of Music" by viewers of the reality show "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"

And now that method will be used to find a new Sandy and Danny for a revival of "Grease" that will mix elements of the original stage musical with the even more popular film version.

Olivia Newton-John, who portrayed Sandy in the 1976 film opposite John Travolta, will be on hand to hear tryouts on the first two episodes of the BBC-produced "Grease - You're the One That I Want," which starts Sunday on NBC.

But most judges determining the 12 finalists will be people working on the production once the new leads are determined - co-creator Jim Jacobs, West End producer David Ian and Tony-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall.

"When the TV show is over, that's the beginning for us," said Marshall in a teleconference this week. "Especially for me, because I'll be in rehearsal studio with them all summer."

Her hope is not only to find perfect leads for the musical "but also find new stars."

"'Grease' has been a launching pad for a lot of new talent," she said.

Amateurs were among the throngs who auditioned in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, she said. But there were also seasoned professionals who had to go through the same process.

"This isn't an amateur contest; it's an open call," Marshall says. "We had quite a range."

"You get the 'Gong Show' aspect," Marshall says, "people who come in just to be on TV. But frankly, you get that on Broadway, too."

"We did have a sword swallower," Jacobs said. But some hopefuls were in current Broadway shows.

"We had a fair clutch of the weird and wonderful," said producer Ian from London, who takes on the role of brusque Brit that seemingly is required on the three-person teams who judge reality talent shows in the U.S.

"You've got to bear in mind this is what we do for a living," he said. "The fact a TV show is covering us doing it doesn't turn us into characters. We're not turning into characters for the sake of a TV program."

Billy Bush and British TV host Denise Van Outen will co-host the series. The first two episodes cover auditions in Chicago and Los Angeles. New York auditions will be the focus Jan. 14. After a week of "Grease Academy" for the finalists, the first live competition allowing viewers to chime in is set for Jan. 28.

Two will be eliminated each week until a final pair are determined. The production of "Grease" is set to open in July.

"Grease: You're the One That I Want" debuts Sunday night on NBC.


sclose31 11 years, 1 month ago

I love the show!

I was shocked and disappointed when Austin and Chad were in the bottom two this week. I thought Austin and Chad were the best Danny's. Max is fabulous but is not cute enough for Danny. I thought Derek should have been in the bottom this week, he may be the best looking Danny but he's not a good singer or actor. I understand your decisions but I still think Derek should have left instead of Chad. I hope the play doesn't get screwed up as voters gain more control over who wins starting next week.

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