As the show opens, we’re once again thrust back in time to Rydell High School in the 1950’s. The Grease soundtrack plays in the background, as Billy Bush reminds us there may be 50 contestants vying for the Broadway roles of Sandy and Danny, but at the end of tonight’s rumble only 12 people will survive. For those of you who shy away from any type of mathematics, that means 38 people will flunk the entrance exam to AP Grease Academy. Let’s hope at least a few of their departures are worth watching.
The clever NBC execs have really gone all out for this show because they have actually brought our 50 hopefuls by orange school bus to an authentic high school renamed Grease Academy. Just by watching them stuff their belongings into lockers, I’m temporarily transported to high school myself, and reminded of the horrendous peanut butter/sweat sock/menthol odor that emanated from the locker next to mine used by an odd fellow who I shall only refer to as Steve S. *Shudder*
Singin’, Dancin’, and ’Rithmetic
The contestants have spent several 14-hour days fine tuning their dancing skills, vocal chords, and acting prowess. To some, like Showbiz Austin, this is a piece of cake, but to others like Vince, the process is proving more difficult than imagined.
As several women harmonize beautifully, the judges are thrilled to see so many potential Sandy’s. Since Kelli is 17, she is not only training at a high school, but she is actually attending classes three hours/day to keep up with her education as mandated by the state. Sucks for her, but she flows seamlessly from vocal exercises to math exercises.
Ashley Spencer has such a fine grasp on the singing, dancing, and acting that she’s been called upon as an example for the other girls. Uh oh, it looks like we’ve got a teacher’s pet here, and I’m pretty certain if you listen hard enough, you can almost hear the whispered rumors from the other girls, that will be floating around by afternoon recess in typical Mean Girl fashion.
The guys are not faring as well in the singing department, however, and Derek tells us he’s worried any one of them could be fired. When the time comes, I’d love to see Donald Trump enter the room, wearing that damn pink tie of his, and thunder, “You’re Fired!” Hey, it could happen…after all they’re both NBC shows, and we all know NBC and Trump will stoop to any level for publicity. Judge Jim says he’s disappointed they haven’t found Elvis yet -- keep looking Jim, because with as many Elvis sightings as there are, I figure it’s only a matter of time before he shows up.
We’re about halfway through the hour, when it dawns on me Billy Bush has been MIA since the show’s opening. Is it too much to hope that Jim, David and Kathleen having tired of him too, gave him a swirly, and locked him in the girl’s bathroom? One can dream.
The Big Kahuna
In a dramatic flair that only NBC can muster, Judge David arrives via limousine and drum rolls like he’s the King of Siam. I half expect him to stand with his chest thrust outward, hands on his hips, shouting, “When I sit, you sit. When I kneel, you kneel. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”
He begins conducting personal singing auditions for the ladies, and during Ashley Anderson’s audition, her voice cracks on a particularly high note once again. She fights back tears saying she’s nervous, and Judge David soothingly tells her to calm down, then follows up this tender exchange by adding if she’s on the Broadway stage and breaks down like this, she’ll be booed off the stage, and he’ll lose millions of dollars. Well, that’s not exactly what he said, but c’mon, we all know he was thinking it.
Chad, Jason and George have become best buds and have nicknamed themselves The Trio. Unfortunately only one male can win the role, but at least so far, they’re having a good time while competing.
Dance, Monkeys, Dance
During a co-ed dance class, Judge Kathleen is putting everyone through their paces. Meanwhile Lovebird Matt has his private singing audition with Judge David. He’s an untrained singer, and needs a lot of work, so David tries to convince him he’s “sex on legs.” I don’t happen to agree with him. I suppose his confidence is boosted, but in my opinion his singing is still lacking. He seems like a nice enough guy, though, and I’d love to see him improve enough to stick around, if for no other reason than to annoy his ex-girlfriend who dumped him last week, heheh.
Max, who has been in two Grease productions, but never as Danny, gets noticed by Judges Jim and David because of his strong voice, but they are a bit puzzled why he refuses to slick his hair back in Danny style, as he’s been asked to. He promises to look more the part from now on.
Ashley Spencer and Cara have become best friends, and they’ve been terrific support for each other, but they realize it’s time to step it up. Everyone is up late practicing, and back at it first thing the next morning.
Singing, Survivor Style
At the end of the week, the judges gather in the principal’s office (oooooooh), to determine the best 24 students, rejecting the others. They’ve agreed to have everyone learn a new 50’s song in two hours, then conduct a sudden death sing-off.
Judge David, using the PA system (don‘t you know he was probably atwitter at the thought of it), tells everyone to gather in the gymnasium for an announcement. They’ll all sing Tears on My Pillow at the same time, and in a devilish Duck Duck Goose game, David will walk amongst them. If he taps them on the shoulder, it’s as if Jeff Probst has declared, “the tribe has spoken.” Even Showbiz Austin swallows hard at the prospect of being cut.
As everyone begins singing their little hearts out, Judge David walks amongst them like a drill sergeant sizing up his troops. A redheaded girl I don’t remember, Dominic, the 42-year-old entertainer, and Lovelorn Matt are just three of the many who are cut down by the hand of David. Showbiz Austin compares Judge David walking around the room, to a nightmare he used to have of Darth Vader stalking him when he was a little boy. On it goes, until the weakest contestants are all massacred, carcasses left scattered around the halls of Rydell High. With an overly dramatic flair, Judge David commands them to stop singing, then pronounces that somewhere before him is Danny and Sandy, and the room explodes in shouts of joy.
We Don’t Know Who You Are, But Damn, We Want To Impress You!
The contestants prepare backstage for the evening’s audition, and although most are extremely nervous, Showbiz Austin says he’s vain enough not to come off looking like a jerk. Psst, I don’t know how to break this to you, big guy, but you haven’t been too successful at it so far, so keep working on it. The guests begin arriving, and Marilu Henner, Jeff Conaway, are among a few of the faces I recognize. Other than that, for all I know, the others could be homeless people the execs found wandering around the seedier parts of Hollywood who were promised beer and peanuts. Judge David is once again telling anyone who will listen that if Danny and Sandy can’t pass muster, the show will fail, and he’ll be out the big bucks. Yeah, yeah, we got it.
Billy Bush (damn, he must have clawed his way out of the girl’s bathroom -- on the upside, the swirly seems to have given his hair some added lift) opens the audition by greeting everyone, and the curtain opens.
The entire cast is onstage dancing to the song, Do You Love Me by The Contours, looking like they’re having a great time. A group of four women, Laura, Ashley, Kate and Juliana follow next, singing The Jackson Five’s I’ll Be There, with Laura and Juliana being the best in my amateur opinion.
A group of four guys comes out next singing, Crying by Roy Orbison. Max has his hair slicked back, and Judge David is tickled pink at the sight. He and Derek sing well, but a guy named Reed makes my ears bleed, and Nathaniel is simply atrocious.
Seventeen-year-old Kelli starts out singing Avril Lavigne’s Complicated, eventually joined by Kathleen, Alexandra and Sara. I don’t know if it’s the poorly arranged rendition, or the group, but they fall short.
Lovebird Matt, George, Nick, and Chad tackle Elvis Presley’s, Jailhouse Rock, but I’m not impressed with any of them. They’re followed by Kevin, Steven, Showbiz Austin and Trio Jason singing I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, by Aerosmith. They sing well together, with Kevin being the weakest.
Ashley Spencer, Cara, Lexi and Allie conclude the evening on a terrific note singing Cyndi Lauper’s, True Colors, with Allie being the strongest vocalist.
It’s Curtains for Some, Sweet Victory for Others
Our judges are back in the principal’s office deciding who will be the best six Sandy’s and Danny’s to go on to the live show for America’s voting. The lucky ducks are as follows, and let it be known, NBC chose the monikers, not me.
Allie - Baby Sandy
“Thanks to Grease Academy I can now interlace my fingers…see?”
Ashley Spencer- Ballerina Sandy
“My mother warned me that one day my face would freeze like this.”
Austin - Hot Danny
“What do you think? Isn’t this the sweetest ass, ever? Psss!”
Chad - Ambitious Danny
“It’s true, I’ve been told it looks this big.”
Derek - Wholesome Danny
“I know I’m looking hot,..er…wha…it looks like my zipper’s open?”
Jason - Boy Band Danny
"Aaccck, I just saw Billy Bush naked in the men's bathroom. My eyes! My eyes!”
Juliana - Rock Chick Sandy
“How about it? Can you see my boobs now?"
Kate - Serious Sandy
“This business of looking sexy is haaaarrrrrrd.”
Kathleen - Spiritual Sandy
“Excuse me, can we loosen this scarf a little?” *cough cough*
Kevin - Bellhop Danny
“It’s easy, you hop over the bells like this!”
Laura - Small Town Sandy
“Now can you see through my shirt?”
Max - Slacker Danny
“Hey, David, lay off my hair, man!”
So, our Trio is now a Duo, and the good news is that beginning next week, the decisions will be made by the viewers as the voting finally gets under way. There is bad news, however…the show will be two hours. What, are they trying to kill us? Can you handle two hours of Hopelessly Devoted? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.