Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I've Got Chills, They're Multiplying: NBC Reality Show to Cast Grease
It was inevitable. With recent news that Andrew Lloyd Webber would use a British reality show "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" to cast his upcoming West End revival of The Sound of Music, the idea spread like "Greased Lightning" across the Atlantic.
NBC has just announced that it will launch its own reality show mid-season -- "You're The One That We Want" -- to find the latest Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski for a second Broadway revival of Grease expected to hit the Great White Way in June of 2007. The television program will have a similar look and feel to its British cousin. In fact, it is even being produced by the same BBC Worldwide Productions.
In the stateside talent search, judge panelists will include Grease co-creator Jim Jacobs, Tony-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall and David Ian, who produced the rather dubious Broadway incarnation of Saturday Night Fever back in 1999.
Ironically, the new reality show title is based on a tune that was never even included in the original Broadway production of Grease that ran for an amazing 3,388 performances (February 14, 1972-April 13, 1980) or the first revival that ran for 1,505 performances (April 23, 1994-January 25, 1998). "You're The One That I Want" was specifically written for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John to sing in the 1978 movie version of "Grease." It has since been incorporated into British productions of the stage show.
How do I feel about the reality angle? To be honest, I'm not really sure. My gut reaction is to be entirely dismissive of reality TV, period. I don't enjoy watching it, because it seems so terribly contrived.
Still, there's a side of me that believes that if a show can inspire new interest in theatre, then perhaps there is a silver lining. After all, we already have countless Broadway and touring productions that feature former "American Idol" hopefuls. And it's not like they're trying to re-cast one of the greatest shows of all time. Maybe with Kathleen Marshall's guidance, this could be the start of something wonderful in the annals of theatre history. Then again, maybe theatre and reality TV really don't go together.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).