More cast members have been added to Fox’s upcoming “Grease: Live” production.
“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen has reportedly been cast in the show as Frenchy, best friend to the female lead Sandy (Julianne Hough). Jepsen starred in the title role of the Broadway production “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” in 2014.
In addition, Kether Donohue, who stars in the “Pitch Perfect” film series, has signed on to portray Sandy and Frenchy’s friend Jan, while David Del Rio, who also starred in “Pitch Perfect,” is playing Putzie, a friend of male lead Danny (Aaron Tveit)’s.
“High School Musical” actress Vanessa Hudgens, current “Dancing With the Stars” contender Carlos PenaVega, and singer Keke Palmer are also part of the production. Hudgens is cast as Frenchy’s friend, Rizzo, PenaVega will portray Danny’s best friend Kenickie, and Palmer has the role of Sandy and Frenchy’s friend, Marty.
“Grease” debuted on Broadway in 1972 and was adapted into a popular 1978 movie of the same name starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Fox is airing its live production of the show following the success of NBC’s live musicals. NBC aired “The Sound of Music Live!” during the holiday season in 2013 and the production got huge ratings. NBC followed last year with “Peter Pan Live!,” which aired during the same time of year, and the show still did well in the ratings, though not at the level of “Music.”
This year, NBC’s latest entry in the genre will be “The Wiz Live!,” which is scheduled to air this December.
Musicals aren’t the only programs getting live treatment on broadcast networks now. Networks always want to pull in viewers with shows that could be viewed as “appointment viewing” (not watched the next day on the DVR), and networks no doubt think a show being live adds an element of suspense.
“Sound of Music” producer Neil Meron played up this aspect before “Music” aired, saying in an interview, “They have to keep going…. Somebody could trip and fall, somebody could forget their lines, somebody could hit a bad note when they are singing – anything could happen.”
Other efforts to produce live programming outside of the live musicals include NBC’s projects “Undateable,” which is a sitcom that the network airs live and which will debut its new season on Oct. 9, and “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris,” which is a live variety show currently on the air. “Best” has gotten fairly good ratings so far.
Fox’s production of “Grease” will air this January.