Last week began America’s search for Broadway’s newest stars to take on the role as Danny and Sandy in Grease. Thousands auditioned, and at least 43 people watched as our judges combed Los Angeles and Chicago looking for just the right pair. So don your poodle skirt and/or black leather jacket, start snapping your fingers and gum because in case you hadn‘t heard, Grease is the word!
You’re the One that I Want…and You…and You…and You
The show begins in New York with a Hungarian woman who has traveled here specifically to audition. Trouble is, she has a little problem speaking the language, and with cunning editing we witness her aborted attempts of the phrase, I’m the one that you want. Watching her audition, I think she’d make a great Sandy -- providing they were looking for a sort of Green Acres Grease. Anyone else remember Eva Gabor’s portrayal of Lisa Douglas on that show? Apparently the judges don’t think like me, however, and they send her on her way. Ashley, who resembles Olivia-Newton John, certainly has the look, but can she sing and dance? Her voice cracks twice on one particular high note, and the judges give her one final chance to impress them. If she can sing the note successfully, she’s in. I hug my pink-lady jacket ever closer to me for luck, and she pulls it off, getting one step closer to seeing her name in lights. She’s not alone though, as several more Sandy’s are passed through.
“We can't wait to see if Paula is drunk...huh? What do you mean this isn't the line for American Idol?"
But the quest for Danny is still proving difficult, even in New York. Robert is auditioning next, but has a problem blanking out at the most inopportune times, which in this case just happens to be when he’s onstage in front of the judges. He forgets what key he’s singing in, and although he’s chosen the song, he also forgets the words. They cut him loose, but he’s not about to get off stage that easily. He begs mercilessly for another chance, but he is dreadful, and they stand their ground. I guess they only offer second chances to pretty girls.
Life Imitating Art
Two real-life sweethearts who have been dating for two years, Matthew and Sarah, feel they’re the ideal choice as Danny and Sandy. Host Denise asks how Matthew would feel if he didn’t get the part but Sarah did. He says he might have a hard time seeing her kiss another man, then he promptly plants a passionate kiss on her lips in an apparent attempt to ward off evil vibes. When the time comes, Matthew tries out first, and Judge David gives him the nod. Now let’s just hope Sarah makes the cut, too, or there might be trouble in paradise. Back from commercial, Sarah’s audition goes well, and our lovebirds remain bonded, or should I say hopelessly devoted.
A 42-year-old mother of four, Joanne, is up next, and wearing a bandana on her head, belts out a hoarse, deep-voiced, but beautiful solo. The judges aren’t buying it, however, and when she questions why Judge Kathleen has turned her down, Kathleen rattles off, “age, look, attitude…” Judge Jim follows up with a crack about how she needs to invest in a mirror. Ouch. She looks older than 42 to me, and if they ever decide to do a Grease II, about the Thunderbirds and Pink Ladies living in a retirement community, I’d say she’s their gal.
Anna Marie sings next, and David is not impressed, but Kathleen asks her to try the song again, softening her voice a little. Jim loves her, and coins her the “Sandy with Soul.” She lives another day, but David advises her to return tomorrow with a more naïve look.
Next up is another Matt, this one a soccer jock, with no theater training. He’s grown up on Long Island dancing with Mom in the kitchen, and drives a beautifully restored Thunderbird. On the surface he’s perfect but can he sing? This is his first audition ever, and he starts off on a good note, but ends the song sounding much like a wounded bird. The judges do see something in him, however, and realizing he’s a completely raw talent, give him a chance to prove himself -- he can return tomorrow.
Not everyone is a novice, though, because the next hopeful is Austin, currently starring in Hairspray. I guess he wants to add Grease to his resume, and he just might get the chance because he’s given the go-ahead from the judges.
Next, an awkward young high-school girl, Megan, gets turned down, and takes the rejection hard, but her mother and father are there to give her a hug and help her cope with one of life’s tougher moments.
Shakin’ A Leg
Day two in New York, brings our hopefuls to the dancing audition. They have one hour to learn a routine for today’s audition, and some dancers are obviously more accomplished than others. Since our Lovebird Sarah has had more dance training than Matthew, she offers him some words of advice and says he’ll probably do fine.
If a prequel is in the works, the little one in the middle has a job.
What follows next is a blur of contestants dancing their little hearts out. Once in a while, we get a glimpse of a familiar face, like Anna Marie, who has toned down her look as requested, but Kathleen says her dancing is marginal. Ashley, whose voice cracked while singing the day before, garners an “okay” from Kathleen, and Matthew, the untrained jock, is on shaky ground. I’m not surprised to see they’re highly impressed with Austin, from Hairspray.
What Would Sandy Do?
The time has come for the final decision of the evening, and Ashley makes the cut, but Anna Marie does not. Many more people do, and eventually it comes down to only four places remaining to be filled, one of which is taken by Austin, the pro. Lovebird Sarah gets denied, and even though they promised to support each other through this process, Matthew is unsure how Sarah will handle it. When Host Denise assures him Sarah will support him 100% (how in the hell would she know?), he is not convinced, and soon it’s clear he knows Sarah much better than Denise. By the time he finds her, she has already packed her things and is bolting out of the theater without even so much as a goodbye. Tsk, tsk, I’m quite certain Sandy would never run out on Danny like that. He is devastated, and I hope he makes it to the Big Time, and has his face splashed across the covers of magazines with the headline, Sexiest Man Alive. That way when she’s standing in line at the market buying Nissin Cup o’ Noodles® on sale, she’ll be facing the man she unceremoniously dumped years earlier. Harrumph.
Finally next week, the top 50 contestants begin Grease Academy, and will be fine-tuning their singing, dancing and acting, bringing us ever closer to voting. Ooh, bring in ‘da noise, bring in ‘da funk! Do you think Sandy would have run out on Danny? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.