"Grease" is the word, folks, when the hotly-anticipated "Grease: Live" production airs tonight on Fox. We talked to the four leads about heading back to Rydell High, zipping up those leather jackets, and doing the hand jive.
BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Sandy: Julianne Hough got the stamp of approval from the original Sandy, Olivia Newton-John. But still, she says, being part of the live production is "a little daunting. Those are some big shoes to fill." Which is why she wants to take the iconic part and give it her own twist, going from sweet to saucy because she wants to. "It's Sandy's decision to make that change on her own and I'm not just doing it for some guy named Danny Zuko," she says. Hough herself could relate to Sandy. "I was always trying to figure out where I fit in. I'm a mixture of bad Sandy and good Sandy," she says.
Danny: You know Aaron Tveit from his impressive slew of stage work. He originated the role of Gabe in "Next to Normal" and Frank Abagnale in "Catch Me If You Can" on Broadway. Plus, he was in Tom Hooper's "Les Mis." Which is why, he says, "I've been leaning on all the experience I've had." For him, playing Danny Zuko means getting into character -- literally. "The costumes inform everything," he says. Is there any Zuko in him? "I generally have big hair in my life too," he says.
Rizzo: Vanessa Hudgens, who steps out as Rizzo, says "this was the character I was born to play. It's fun to be the bad girl." She's a veteran hoofer and Broadway performer, which comes in handy. "The hand jive is a very exciting number. It's big. We have Mario Lopez hosting the dance. The dance number is so epic. It's exhausting," she says. So is she anything like Rizzo, who call it like she sees it? "I'm a lot like her. I'm a very blunt and frank person," she says.
Kenickie: He's cruisin' for a bruisin, courtesy of "Big Time Rush" star Carlos PenaVega. He's honored, a little daunted, and mostly psyched. "No one's ever done what we're trying to do. We're literally on the Warner Bros lot. We have two soundstages. Our sets are four-walled. We're creating something brand new and fresh. It's a lot of hard work," he says. The highlight of the process so far: "We got to pick out our leather jackets. I felt like Cinderella." Go figure. And like his character, "Kenickie loves his car and I love my car."