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"Grease": Smirking in Memphis

By admin Published: January 28, 2007

Many things to say about tonight's "Grease: You're the One That I Want" but I'll start with a simple one: How could anyone smile while singing "Walking in Memphis"? It's a booming song, to be sure, but one that does not remotely call for a big Ipana grin throughout. Yet that is what we got from Kevin, and I am still wondering why no one called Kevin on it -- especially when Juliana was called on not conveying the drama in "The First Cut Is the Deepest."

But I am so cynical about the show at this point, that even with two Buckeyes in the competition (Kate and Ashley S.) I am wondering if what anyone does really matters. Besides the Kevin/Juliana inconsistency, here are a few reasons:

-- Bringing Matt and Ashley A. back into the competition for no discernible reason other than that their stories were liked by the audience. Tonight's show indicated yet again that both are way out of their league as singers.

-- Where most of the competition went two-by-two (two Dannys back-to-back, two Sandys likewise), Matt and Ashley A. were a separate pairing, which spared them from sounding even worse in comparison to the people who know what they're doing. Yes, their addition creates an odd number of men and of women. All the more reason NOT TO BRING THEM BACK.

-- The judges are, for the most part, in the tank about who is good and who isn't. Only Snarky Brit Producer was at all blunt, while Kathleen Marshall and Jim Jacobs were extremely kind -- and guest Olivia Newton-John wouldn't even pick two favorites at the end. (Who does she think she is, Paula Abdul?)

My theory: Even though there was a reference to auditions going on for other "Grease" roles, I won't be surprised if the Broadway production ends up drawing on the TV show pool for Kenickie, Rizzo and other supporting roles. If that is looming, then the people involved in the show are going to be reluctant to trash perfomers whom they will still have to work with; it's sort of a corollary to "American Idol's" getting kinder when the pool gets down to the folks who might end up releasing CDs under "Idol's" auspices.

-- The remarkably convenient way that the judges, in picking their favorite Danny and Sandy, managed not to overlap at all -- listing six different favorites. (It would have been eight if Newton-John hadn't been such a wimp.) Snarky Brit went with Ashley S. and Derek, Marshall with Austin and Allie, Jacobs with Chad and Kate. Way to keep things wide open -- and, going back to the other-casting theory, to keep more performers happy.

Other notes: Ashley S. did all right with "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)", especially in terms of stage presence, and Kate was OK -- little slow getting to the oomph in "All By Myself." But of all the men and women tonight, I was really surprised by Kathleen's "Suddenly I See." A real force, that one.

Next show's guest is Andrew Lloyd Webber who, as far as I can determine, does not have a hyphen in his name even if the show's graphics indicated otherwise. No new telecast next week because of the Super Bowl, so we wait until Feb. 11 for voting results.

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