Grease 03/11/07 Recap: The Judges’ Last Stand - Are They Really Leaving It Up To Us?
NBC is still giving this show the ol’ college try, but like the college with the lousy football team, it just doesn’t seem to have the muscle required to make it into the big leagues. They’ve got the cheerleaders keeping the audience pumped, and the coaches are still smiling, but you know behind those masks they’re praying the team can survive a few more weeks, and that the game won’t get cancelled because of the nastiest of reasons…Lack of Interest.
Did A Girl Ever Pop Out Of Your Locker?
The show opens with our four Danny’s, Austin, Max, Derek and Chad singing Grease using a set of school lockers as a backdrop. They take combs and jackets from the lockers, but suddenly the three remaining Sandy’s pop out. Whoa, every pubescent boy watching is probably secretly hoping a good-looking woman will emerge from his locker the following day at school. Laura, Allie and Ashley join in song and dance, and this group number is energetic and upbeat. The guys are beginning to look more comfortable on stage in their Danny personas, and everyone certainly looks like they’re having a great time. I do wish Austin would stop mugging for the camera, though. That guy seems to know exactly where to look at all times, and since this is going to be on Broadway, sans cameras, it comes across as particularly hammy. The lively group performance is quite enjoyable, until it’s ruined by Billy Bush coming onstage. He opens one of the lockers to reveal
What’shername Cat Deeley Denise Van Outen. She’s so tall in her spiked heels she barely fits, and Billy offers a hand to help her climb out. I realize this is one of the first times I’ve seen her hands because she has the habit of hiding them behind her back for much of the show. I’m certain she must have ‘man-hands’ (thanks Seinfeld), and the glimpse of them just now was too brief for me to confirm or deny. Rats.
Trying to convince us we need to care about this show, Billy tells us the judges are very nervous tonight because this is the last night the judges will have a say in who will be cast in the roles. After tonight, America will have “total control.” Well, now that they put it that way, I AM concerned, because after all, it was some of our American men who decided it’s a good fashion statement to wear their pants below their asses so their boxer shorts are exposed. Sorry, I’ve probably got you worried now, too, maybe we should just move along. Joining the judges tonight is Rob Marshall, who has been nominated for six Tony’s and directed Chicago on Broadway. Also, he just happens to be Judge Kathleen’s brother so talent runs in that family for sure.
Grease Has Got Groove, But Do The Guys?
We’re quickly reminded that Spiritual Sandy, Kathleen, was sent packing, but there’s no time to mourn the loss of her, because it’s time for the men! Here’s the judges’ rundown on the guys: Derek’s voice keeps cracking, Austin isn’t humorous enough, Chad needs to toughen up, but Max “struts and sneers like a rock star.”
The Bottom of the Barrel
The men stand in their leather jackets under the hot lights awaiting the
firing squad the judges. Derek and Max are safe and quickly run offstage, on the off-chance that Billy might discover he misread the cue card. Austin and Chad are unceremoniously removed from the stage and will have plenty of time to commiserate about their bad luck, since the sing-off won’t occur until the end of the show. Have fun, boys.
Denise, with her hands well hidden behind her back, informs us the girls will perform songs demonstrating Sandy’s emotional side, and the guys will be taking on Elvis. Here’s hoping for a lot of pelvis action, girls.
Have A Nice Trip? Tell You Next Fall
Allie Schulz, 19 - Baby Sandy
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Song: Natural Woman
Every week I worry about the ladies walking up and down the steep stairs onstage --especially because they’re not supposed to look down. Have you ever tried walking downstairs without glancing down at your feet? How about while wearing high heels…under hot lights…on television…while singing? Well tonight it finally happened, Allie tripped -- just a little. But she didn’t miss a beat and never lost her composure, which is remarkable, especially when you consider she’s only 19. I’d vote for her just for that reason alone, because you can bet if something happened during her performance on Broadway, she’d probably move right along. Considering she’s singing an Aretha classic (and we all know blonde women don’t do Aretha justice), she does a good job, even though she has an odd habit of throwing her arms wide, only to drop them quickly at her sides. She does it every.single.time, several times a song. She still needs some acting skills because she looks forced while singing, but at least she didn’t run offstage crying after her little trip (like I would have, ha).
I’ve been saying for weeks that the producers need to help us learn more about these contestants so we care more about them, and you should know, the producers have apparently been listening to me. The latest trick up their sleeve is to do the Hometown Visits ala American Idol. Allie is first, and a succession of friends tell us to vote for her, with a tribute at the end from her mother and father telling her they love her and are proud of her.
The Judges’ Remarks:
Kathleen - she was fresh and lovely, but they’ve heard her sing better.
Rob - she’s amazing and extraordinary; now is the time to try to sing songs like Sandy.
Because He’s Wholesome Danny, There Will Be No Glaring Butt Cracks Tonight
Derek Keeling, 26 - Wholesome Danny
Hometown: Charleston, WV
Song: Devil in Disguise
Derek’s winning me over lately, and he does a terrific job with this song. His voice sounds strong with no sign of cracking tonight, and lately I’ve noticed he’s beginning to look like Danny. He does a good job of getting the ladies in the crowd excited, and he appears to be happy with his performance.
Derek’s old high school is getting into the Derek Spirit, with the kids wearing Derek t-shirts. Derek says his dad has always been very supportive, and he actually chokes up when talking about how much it meant to see his dad in the audience. Billy assures him that “real men cry,” and I can only imagine how comforting it was to know that Little Billy Bush says it’s okay for him to cry. Derek’s father says that he and his mother have always been proud of him, and he leaves him with, “we’ll see you on Broadway.”
The Judges’ Remarks:
Kathleen - he was secure, confident and charming; has true easy-going charm of a Broadway star.
Rob - try to surprise the judges now. (How? As in tearing his clothes off and streaking across the stage? Hauling off and slugging Little Billy Bush? Either of those things would surprise [and delight] me).
Laura’s Got The Midas Touch
Laura Osnes, 21 - Small Town Sandy
Hometown: Egan, MN
Song: Don’t Leave Me This Way
Laura takes her turn down the treacherous stairs, wearing a gold lame' dress that looks like something Trump would have draped over his garish Louis XIV couch. I love Laura’s voice, though, so I’m willing to overlook her frock, and she proceeds to put forth an almost manic performance.
Laura’s hometown visit takes us to Minnesota, and her mother tells us she worked at Laura’s dance studio in order to pay for her dance lessons. Her father says his little girl has integrity and honesty, and he’s grateful to share her with the rest of the world. Mom’s got Laura for Sandy posters plastered around the house, and the kids in the local schools are decked out in Laura t-shirts. The t-shirt printing companies in these towns have made bank thanks to this show.
The Judges’ Remarks:
Jim - she’s an unconventional Sandy since she’s a brunette, but that was a brilliant performance.
Rob - she approached the material as an actor, and we could be looking at the next Sandy.
Slacker Backers Unite!
Max Crumm, 21 - Slacker Danny
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Song: Suspicious Minds
Wow, Max is giving it all he’s got by feigning hurt and disappointment as he sings. It’s a wonderful performance that really shows off his voice, and he has definitely matured as a singer and actor during the few short weeks this show has aired.
A little boy in Phoenix tells us he’s voting for Max because he “rocks.” He’s so darn cute the audience laughs, and the town has Slacker Backer bumper stickers on their cars, as well as the required t-shirts. Max’s little brother, Jack, is six-years-old, and knows the choreography to Max’s routine for the song Summer of ’69. We get to see him dance, including throwing his head back in perfect timing, as he watches big brother Max on television. Jack ends the visit with the phrase, “slacker backer forever.” Billy seems wounded to discover that Jack is a big hit with the ladies backstage, hee.
The Judges’ Remarks:
Jim - he’s an unconventional Danny, which proves that talent wins out, brilliant performance.
Rob - he approached the material as an actor, and we could be looking at the next Danny.
As a tribute to Rob Marshall, our loveable lot join together to sing All That Jazz from Chicago. I just saw this on stage in December, which of course entitles me to give a professional critique. It’s a sultry number that they actually pull off quite well, considering I don’t find any of these gals particularly sexy. Cute, yes, sexy, not so much. But Kathleen’s choreography is awesome, and Ashley surprises me with her low range. Some of the men seem to have a little trouble with the low keys, but overall it’s very entertaining, and one of the better group numbers.
Who’s The Party Queen?
Billy informs Austin that he received the fewest number of votes, so he’ll need to step it up tonight in order to stay. Both Austin and Chad will sing Rock and Roll Party Queen, with Austin going first followed by Chad. Chad seems to be having trouble keeping his voice loud enough even with his microphone, which may spell trouble for him. The final choice made by the judges is to save Austin because he’s a better singer, dancer and actor. Austin bolts offstage and Denise hugs Chad, telling him he’s handsome. She asks him who he‘d like to see win the role of Danny and he diplomatically says he’d like to see Kathleen win a Tony for Best Direction. But Denise isn’t about to let him make a gracious exit, and she presses him for an answer. He finally says he’d pick Max and the audience cheers.
Granny’s Little Girl
Ashley Spencer, 21 - Ballerina Sandy
Hometown: Canton, OH
Song: You Keep Me Hanging On
Her voice is beautiful, and she probably sang better than the other girls, but her performance was certainly lacking to me. Basically she stood in one spot, then stomped around the stage one time, but keep in mind, I wouldn’t know a spot-on performance if it bit me in the ass. Last week Max told us she “found out her color is green,” and since then I’ve noticed she is always wearing green. Tonight is no different.
Ashley tells us she hasn’t had any family members or friends in town for three weeks, and she misses everyone desperately. Her grandmother has always claimed that Ashley got her talent from her, and she passed away this last March. Granny was always at every performance, and Ashley misses her presence now, and she breaks down crying when she talks about her. Billy points out that her mother is here in the audience, and says her grandmother is probably looking down on her. I hope so. I’d hate to think she might be looking up at her because that would mean grandma had a whole other life going on that Ashley didn’t know about.
The Judges’ Remarks:
David - Ashley has a fabulous voice, and now has real emotion and passion; she’s definitely in the final 2 as far as he’s concerned.
Rob - go onstage now and think only about singing from the character of Sandy. She definitely has the talent.
Don’t You Just Love Me?
Austin Miller, 30 - Hot Danny
Hometown: Alvin, TX
Song: Can’t Help Falling In Love (with me)
I’m blown away by Austin’s heart-melting deep voice, and as long as I’m staring into my laptop, typing away, and not looking directly at the television screen, everything’s wonderful in my world. But the minute I glance over at him, I’m skeeved out because I’m convinced he’s got a lover -- the camera. He stalks that lens like a crazy obsessed lover, and I think if Austin does get the stage role he’s going to miss the camera desperately. Meh.
In Texas, Austin is the word, and we see local stores and kids decked out in Vote for Austin memorabilia. Dad’s an emotional (and hopeful) guy, and chokes back tears as he says it’s going to be awesome to go to New York and see Austin on stage this summer. Austin fights back tears and says his dad is one of his best friends and that they’re very close.
The Judges’ Remarks:
David - it’s great to see Austin’s emotion, and his baritone voice was superb; he also notes that Austin must have rushed to get through this most recent costume change, but he did great.
Rob - tells Austin to go onstage now and think only about singing from the character of Danny. Austin definitely has talent.
The Pick Of The Litter
The judges favorites tonight are as follows:
David - Austin and Laura.
Kathleen - Max and Laura.
Jim - Austin and Laura.
Rob - he plays nice and says any of them will do great.
And there you have it, Greasers. All that’s left now is Chad’s swan Sandy song with the guys gathered around him thanking their lucky stars they’re still in the running. Beginning next week, their futures are in our hands, and the judges lose the power to save anyone. Do you love Austin as much as he loves himself? Send me a pm here.