TV Tonight: “GREASE: LIVE” to air January 31 on Fox

Taking a page out of NBC’s annual live TV musicals, Fox debuts it’s live version of “Grease” tonight, starring Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens.

Promo splash screen for Fox Network's "GREASE: LIVE." (Paramount Productions)

WASHINGTON, January 31, 2016 – Time to put out a BOLO for fans of Broadway and movie musicals: “Grease” is the word. Right here. Right now.

Whether you’re an aging Boomer “hopelessly devoted” to either the original Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey hit musical (1971) or the 1978 smash film version starring a (trim) John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John; or a Gen X-er or Millennial searching for something “electrifying” and seriously retro, the Fox Network has got your number.

That’s because on Sunday night, January 31 (7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central) Fox debuts their all-new, live for TV version of this scintillating show, which they’re calling “GREASE: LIVE.” Looks like those clever Fox people have decided to take a page out of NBC’s playbook, given the success that network has been having with its own annual live musical productions. Could the kind of live stuff that was once standard TV fare in the 1950s and 1960s become TV’s latest thing?

As we ponder that cosmic questions, let’s succumb to the hype a bit and let the Fox Network folks brag a little bit about their stellar 2016 “Grease” edition’s cast:

“GREASE: LIVE stars Julianne Hough (‘Safe Haven,’ ‘Rock of Ages’) as the angelic ‘Sandy’ – Rydell High’s most talked-about newcomer – and Aaron Tveit (‘Graceland,’ ‘Les Miserables’) as bad boy ‘Danny Zuko,’ Also tapped to star are Vanessa Hudgens (Broadway’s ‘Gigi,’ ‘Spring Breakers’) as iconic bad girl ‘Rizzo,’ Keke Palmer (SCREAM QUEENS, ‘Masters of Sex’) as the sassy Pink Lady ‘Marty Maraschino’ and Carlos PenaVega (‘Big Time Rush’) as ‘Kenickie,’ Danny’s tough-guy sidekick.”

Produced by Paramount Television for Fox, Sunday night’s extravaganza promises to “reintroduce and reimagine some of the show’s most memorable moments, great music and timeless love story to an entirely new generation.” (Sorry, Boomers.)

Hey, come on. You know the story. High school summer vacation lovebirds—secretly bad-boy Danny (Tveit) and super nice girl Sandy (Hough)—bid a reluctant “sayonara” to their summer romance as they head back to their different high schools for the fall semester.

But, surprise! Sandy ends up transferring to Danny’s high school, and suddenly confronts the real dude in his native environment, grease-slicked hair and all. Right, this is one heck of a convenient coincidence, but this is musical theater, so get over it already.

Not only does Sandy get to discover Danny’s Dark Side. She also gets to meet his non-Rhodes Scholar pals, the T-Birds. What will happen to this romance now? For falling in love for such a “nice girl,” will Danny lose status at the high school? (Hat tip to Frank Zappa.) Even worse, will nice-girl Sandy get into trouble with Rizzo (Hudgins) and her gal-pal counterparts to the T-Birds, the Pink Ladies?

Okay, this is tame stuff when compared to the gangs hanging out on classic TV series like “The Wire.” But why not have tragedy tomorrow and comedy tonight?

Besides, at 7 p.m., it’s family hour on TV. (Or what’s left of it.)

At any rate, if you’re into this kind of musical stuff (and we are), tune into Fox at 7 p.m. Sunday night. We wish we could tell you more, but Fox is holding this one close to the vest. Besides, how can they send preview disks for a show that’s going to broadcast live? Du-u-h!

That said, we did discover this video clip highlighting the show’s recent rehearsals. Check it out to get the flavor. Then tune in for the real deal Sunday night.

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