Okay, Grease fans, are you ready for the opening night of tryouts in Los Angeles and Chicago for the lead roles of Danny and Sandy in a Broadway production? These premiere nights, or as I fondly refer to them, Reject Nights, typically include singing, dancing, and if we keep our fingers crossed, tears, drama and emotional breakdowns. Being a huge Broadway and musical fan in general, I’m counting on the mathematical theorem of AI + Dancing With The Stars = Big Entertainment. I must warn you, though, I was never very good at math, so don’t risk waging a bet on anything you can’t afford to lose.
Our hosts are Billy Bush *gag* (I’d say that last name has opened quite a few doors for him), and a British television host named Denise Van Outen, who has some slightly alluring photos on the internet -- I’m not suggesting you check them out, but they’re out there, trust me. (So did you look?) Of course we all know that no one in their right mind would produce a reality show without the mandatory three-judge panel, which in this case comprises of
SimonDavid Ian, a veteran Broadway producer, PaulaKathleen Marshall, the director of the new Broadway Grease and a Tony-winning choreographer, and RandyJim Jacobs, the creator of Grease. Let’s get ready to witness this brand new phenomenon, and just think, whoever we choose by voting on our very own telephones, will take the leads in the musical beginning Summer, 2007. Rama lama ding dong!
The secret magic formula, or as I call it, The Oreo Factor: two men with a woman as the gooey center filling.
Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee
We’re off to a good start with Ashley, who at least has a good voice, and Kathleen thinks she resembles Meg Ryan (that’s a good thing, right?). Her audition is quickly followed by Robin, who I can only describe as Tiny Tim’s sister (if you’re too young to know who Tiny Tim is, see pictures below). The frightening thing is she sounds just like him, too, and believe me, that is definitely not a good thing. There is no way she’s getting this job, but fortunately for her, she tells us she’s also acted in horror films, is a stand-up comedienne, an author of murder mysteries, she types 100 WPM, and if that weren’t enough, she also potty-trains parrots for movies (is there much of a calling for that?). This woman cannot sing, so I can’t help but feel if she does any of these other things as well as she sings, she needs to find yet another profession.
Mr. Tiny Tim and little sister:
After one of the female contestants is given the heave-ho, little Billy Bush has other ideas, and goes to bat for her. He interrupts the show, and begs the panel to give Fawn another chance, and he must have made a call to President Bush, because they relent and give the gal another tryout. I hope Billy at least got her phone number, because when she screeches off key, they are not swayed, and shoot down her star yet again. She’s cute as can be, though, and as she leaves, one of the Danny hopefuls, shouts after her to call him, hee. There are definitely some Sandy hopefuls who are not the typical perky blonde, and personally, I’d be up to seeing some diversity in the role. A busty woman named Patricia belts out a song, and when Kathleen hears she earns her living as a dancing cupcake, she decides they need to see her dancing. She’s moving on.
Tears On My Pillow
A series of guys trying out for Danny is next, with one fellow, Max, being told to change his hairstyle when he returns the following day for his second audition. Unfortunately some of the men think that even at the age of 30, they can pass for a teenager -- heh, yeah, when hell freezes over. On the other end of the spectrum, a 17-year-old tries out, but they feel he looks too young (and I’m thinking naÔve). Proving their point, he breaks down when talking to Billy back stage. Poor guy, I always feel bad when I see their hopes dashed like that -- I wonder if he knows how to potty-train parrots?
"Yo Dawg, listen up. I’m the Randy on this gig, so let me hear it from the dawg pound, yo!"
I’ve Got Chills, They’re Multiplying
Lots of great talent is represented and one of those is a 21-year-old cocktail waitress, Cara, whose father told her to audition. She’s adorable with a winning personality and a great voice. Done! I vote for her even though I haven’t seen her dance -- and that’s why I’m not a judge on these shows -- well that, and if you’re picky, the fact that I know nothing about singing or dancing might be important.
A teacher comes out and although he looks like Danny, he is overly dramatic giving a poor rendition of Greased Lightning, and he gets Plutoed. Back stage, Billy Bush is watching and begins crying because he’s laughing so hard.
Following the AI formula, it’s time for our heart-warming story of the evening. One of the men says his brother wanted to audition for Grease years ago but he was too sick so he wanted his brother to try out in his place. This contestant never did, and has always regretted it, and that’s why he’s here today. As the violins strum in the background, the judges inform him he’s moving on to the next round. A pharmaceutical rep is next and not only does she look like Sandy, but she has a beautiful voice. She’s in. The last fellow to audition thrills the judges, and David Ian says it looks like Danny has showed up after all.
Better Shape Up
The following day the dancing tryouts begin, and as the returning contestants prepare, their nerves are shot. They have one hour to learn a dance routine to be performed in front of the judges, and some of them are beginning to panic. The groups are broken into groups of men or women of five or six. To be honest, it’s such a blur of tryouts, there’s no way to single anyone in particular out. Therefore, I’ll just point out that the guy who was trying out for his deceased brother didn’t make it, nor did the pharmaceutical rep or the dancing cupcake. But the guy who slicked his hair back, Max, and a woman who played hooky for the day, as well as a few more, will be going on to Grease Academy for more training. Grease Academy? Is that like Hell’s Kitchen?
Tell Me More, Tell Me More
Next stop is Chicago where Jim Jacobs gives us a tour of the place where he grew up. He explains Grease is based on the people he knew in high school, and he gets emotional when he sees the theater where it was first performed has now closed.
It’s back to the auditions for us, and there’s another rush of five-second clips of people singing. A guy who impersonates Judy Garland takes a stab at Danny, and is one of 42 to get a call back for the dancing auditions the following day. He also transforms himself into Danny overnight like the guy in Los Angeles, so we’ll see if the judges go for it again. Overall the judges are pretty disappointed in the men, and are having a tough time finding what they’re looking for, including the Judy Garland imitator, as he gets nixed. Seven in total are chosen from Chicago, and with that, the lights are dimmed on Broadway Chicago.
Next week we'll be in New York for more auditions, and the final 50 contestants will enter Grease Academy, which will eventually come down to a final count of 12. It’s at this point I believe we will begin voting, and the sun will shine ever so brightly once again in Hollywoodville.
Do you think Grease Academy is similar to Hell’s Kitchen? If so, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.