The creators of “Grease Live!” are planning some changes to the Broadway musical that inspired it, but don’t worry. The show will still be plenty naughty.
“Rizzo does still have a pregnancy scare,” Vanessa Hudgens, who plays the tough girl in the nostalgic musical set at a 1950s high school, said of her character in the new version, which is scheduled for Fox on Jan. 31. “It’s still there,” Hudgens added during a session Friday afternoon at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.
A lot of other stuff is still in there too, like the boys using off-color language to describe their cars and asking in song whether heroine Sandy (Julianne Hough of “Dancing With the Stars”) “put up a fight” when boyfriend Danny (Aaron Tveit) put the moves on her. Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen costars as Frenchy, one of the “Pink Ladies” in Rizzo’s gang.
“That’s still in there,” Carlos PenaVega, who plays Danny’s buddy Kenickie, said of the “did she put up a fight?” line from the tune “Summer Nights.”
Such language may not have raised eyebrows in 1972, when the Jim Jacobs-Warren Casey musical hit Broadway, or in 1978, when the movie version opened with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starring.
In the post-Cosby era, however, such lines might hit clinker notes. But Hudgens said it was important to keep the sexual themes of the show, because how young people handle sexuality has a lot to do with what “Grease” is about.
“Even though it has this fun lightheartedness about it, there’s some real stuff going on,” Hudgens told reporters.
Producer Marc Platt said the language will keep an “appropriate edge,” although a few of the sharper lines might be toned down a bit for a live prime-time telecast. The cast has been rehearsing for the live event on a soundstage on the Warner Brothers studio lot in Burbank.
As it happens, “Grease” has undergone a lot of tinkering over the years. A “school version” of the show -- designed to make it more family friendly -- eliminated Rizzo’s pregnancy scare entirely. The movie version added new songs by John Farrar, including the hit “You’re the One That I Want,” and a title song by Barry Gibb -- none of which was in the Broadway version.
Platt said the new Fox version would stitch the best elements of the various versions together and try to arrive at something definitive, at least for TV.
“We’re doing what we think is the best version of ‘Grease’ that fits a live television format,” Platt said.