`Grease’ on Broadway

America spoke (or at least a very small percentage of America), and the first nationally televised casting session for a Broadway musical has turned into a full-blown Broadway musical.

“Grease: You’re the One That I Want,” an “American Idol“-like attempt to make Broadway hip, resulted in viewers (and a panel of judges) picking the leads in Kathleen Marshall’s (wholly unnecessary) revival of Grease.

The winners were Max Crumm, who would play Danny (in case you were confused), and Laura Osnes as Sandy (now wouldn’t it have been MUCH more interesting if they had cast opposite genders). The show opened Saturday on Broadway, and the reveiws are overwhelming (ly bad).

Ben Brantley in the New York Times damned with faint praise when he wrote that Crumm and Osnes don’t embarrass themselves.

Nobody noticeably strays from melodies, flubs dialogue or botches rudimentary dance moves. Ms. Marshall has obviously drilled her cast thoroughly.

But there’s the numbing sense of performers of undeveloped talent conscientiously doing what they have been told to do and failing to claim their parts as their own.

Writing for the Associated Press, Michael Kuchwara calls the show a “mixed bag.”

As Danny, Max Crumm gives a cautious performance, vocally OK but short on swagger and sex appeal. Laura Osnes nicely gets Sandy’s transformation, morphing with enthusiasm from good girl to bad babe. Check out her skintight outfit in the last scene, courtesy of designer Martin Pakledinaz. Osnes also sings well and throws herself into Marshall’s spirited choreography.

Clive Barnes in the New York Post, gives the show one star out of four. The headline calls it “frightening.”

… the misguided selection of uncharismatic Max Crumm as Danny and unexciting Laura Osnes as Sandy was achieved by the votes of viewers like you. And while the TV show was no “American Idol,” if all the participating voters were to be laid end to end, they’d add up to a remarkably long Broadway run.

Now, all the producers have to do is to get them into the theater. I suppose that’s where director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall (a woman of some experience) comes in.

All told, I’ve seen worse – but then, I’ve been attending the theater for more than 65 years, so “worse” is a very well-thumbed comparative.

This is where the TV show hits the Broadway fan.

I’ll give Barnes the last word here: “Despite Marshall’s energized efforts, this crass musical makes Legally Blonde seem like West Side Story.”

Visit the official Grease Web site here.

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