Grease: Live Behind the Scenes: 19 Fun Facts From the Audience

What was it like to be an audience member at this year's hottest live show?

By Lauren Piester, Jean Bentley Feb 01, 2016 2:31 PMTags
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After the glorious triumph that was last night's production of Grease: Live, there are probably a few things you're thinking. 

First, where can you get your very own Julianne Hough and/or Aaron Tveit? Second, is there any other life besides the one in which you were born to hand jive? And third, how the hell did they do that? 

Most people had gotten used to the typical set up of a TV musical with one stage, a few rotating sets and a lot of imagination on the part of the audience. Grease: Live completely ditched that format for one that was a lot more like a live feature film with a live, interactive audience. 

While we were not teenagery enough to make the cut for the live live audience, we did get to attend the final dress rehearsal, and our minds were blown before the show even started. 

Holy crap Sandra Dee is singing on Spencer's porch. #greaselive

A photo posted by Troian Bellisario (@sleepinthegardn) on

1. Grease: Live took over several stages on the Warner Brothers studio lot, which is home to a lot of your favorite shows. Throughout the show, you might have recognized sets from Pretty Little Liars (see above!) and Gilmore Girls. We also passed by the Full House house on our way to our seats!

2. While we waited for a few minutes outside one of the stages, original Frenchy Didi Conn came out to greet the waiting extras. She thanked us for coming and told us she loved us. She may have just been saying that, but we totally believed her.

3. We were taken to our seats more than an hour before the taped performance was going to start, and we spent that entire time watching the set designers paint the Rydell logo in the center of the gym floor, fully dry the logo, remove the logo they just painted, and then painstakingly replace it with a new decal just minutes before multiple people were going to walk all over it. It was weirdly stressful for everyone involved. (You can see how screwed up the decal got if you watch for it during the dance scene.)

4. They ran Jessie J's opening number twice—once with umbrellas and once without. If you go back and look at how many different elements are at play in that first scene, you'll understand what a task that must have been.


5. The gym could basically operate like a real gym. There was no backstage, no false walls. The entire room could have been on camera, and it probably was at some point during the night.

6. Often, it was hard to tell what was on camera, so when there were scenes in the gym, the entire gym was acting. The dance scene felt incredibly like a real dance, with everyone in character at all times regardless of where the camera was. Ana Gasteyer (Principal McGee) and Haneefah Wood (Blanche), who often stole the actual show, were cracking us up by stealing all the cookies from the refreshments table.

7. Speaking of cameras at the dance, the National Bandstand camera that was shown on screen was actually functional, and was recording in black and white.  

8. You might have noticed that the Hand Jive was not the Hand Jive you remember because the choreography was changed for this production. Some of the cast members tried to teach it to us before the dance started, but we quickly understood why we were not cast in this show.

9. Kenickie (Carlos Penavega) didn't drive his car out to the front of the school. Four burly stage hands actually pushed the car into frame.


10. Another great gym scene was the "montage" of Danny trying out for various sports. It was well choreographed, and while it was interesting to see in person, it made a lot more sense on screen. The best part was when Danny "ran" around the school. He really just jogged to the wall while the camera turned and zoomed in a bit, and then he jogged back. We were confused when it happened, but it looked great in the actual show. Plus, Jordan Fisher, who played Doody, is super talented, and watching he and Danny sing to each other was a real treat.

11. Right after the opening scene with Danny and Sandy on the beach, Julianne and Aaron ran through the gym in front of us. Aaron had ditched his shirt. That's all.

12. The only noticeable mistake we saw during the entire performance was Joe Jonas momentarily forgetting his lyrics while performing at the dance. That's it.

13. We also noticed that Tom's (Sandy's dumb jock date) food tower fell over, but everyone played it cool enough that it worked anyway.

14. When there wasn't a scene happening directly in front of us, monitors were brought in so we could watch the show. However, since many of the stages were so close together and sound has a way of traveling, they couldn't actually play the sound from the show. So we watched the majority of the other scenes in silence, which was weird.


15. If you were wondering why the audience was incredibly quiet during many scenes, even after jokes were told, it's because the actors' mics couldn't be projected in the same room, so the audience couldn't actually hear the dialogue that was being said right in front of them. When "Summer Nights" was performed right in front of us, we could mostly only hear the music and the sounds of dancing feet.

16. At least during our rehearsal, a lot of the audience sounds actually came from the audience out in front of the school, whose monitors did get sound, so they knew when to clap, laugh, and cheer.

17. Fun fact: The audience for Marty's song, "Freddy My Love," was full of real servicemen!

18. Those of us who had been sitting in the gym were taken out to the carnival right after the dance. There weren't many visible monitors outside (in the Stars Hollow town square, no big deal), so we didn't see the last hour of the show. We did, however, have plenty of time to sing and dance on our own while we waited for the cast to arrive in their fun little golf carts. We were great.

19. After the cameras cut away at the end of the rehearsal, the cast huddled together and chanted, "Go Grease!" Is #castgoals a thing? Because if it is, we're feelin' it hard.