This week on Grease: We lose our first two finalists. Take a wild guess who. But the voting process has a twist and people are UP IN ARMS about it. I, for one, am not so incensed because I am all in favor of Philosopher Kings ruling my reality shows. They do know better! It’s their job, people.
Plus this week, the special guest judge is Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom the commercials kept touting as the Master of the Modern Musical. I wish I were watching this with Stephen Sondheim to hear what he’d have to say about that particular untruth. (Also because that would be the COOLEST EVER.)
We open on Billy “Ryan Seacrest” Bush telling us how one Danny and one Sandy are going home tonight. “It’s gonna be brutal.” He promises. LIE. Denise “Cat Deely” Van Outen goes on to say “Two dreams are about to be ripped at the seams.” Now I’m picturing those dreams as cuddly velveteen teddy bears, their lives taken from them too soon. Too soon, dammit!
Ryan Seacrest says it’s up to us. Um, actually, it’s up to us to choose the bottom two Danny’s and Sandy’s. That bottom four will then have a sing-off (To the same “Tears on My Pillow” song from the sing-off at Grease Academy. Again, I ask, where is the creativity? Where is the imagination?), and the judges will determine two go home. So instead of being in the strict American Idol style, which I think most people were expecting, the voting works more like So You Think You Can Dance. I’m assuming this means that eventually the lowest-voted contestant will be kicked off, once they’re whittled down to an appropriate 6 or so (again, àla SYTYCD.)
The opening number this week is “Summer Lovin’.” And, yay, the girls are in poodle skirts with no sign of the horrible pants! Wait, is this all they rehearsed for the past 2 weeks? The dancing’s not even remotely fun. Entertain me! Also, pinkie down, Austin. He pierced the toast! (I’ll give you a quarter if you can name the reference. J/k, not really, I need those for laundry.) The last note of the song is particularly unpleasant to the ears as everyone does a different riff.
Ryan Seacrest introduces the judges. Same as usual, plus Andrew Lloyd Webber. He’s awkward and “just British” if you know what I mean. “Kinda gay” if you don’t. And I know, I know, he was married to the original Christine from Phantom, which is why I say he’s not gay, “just British.”
And, just as it’s inevitable that one of the girls would sing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” on the Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-themed night, so it is inevitable that I must bash him a little. I mean, he seems like a perfectly nice person, but no self-respecting theater aficionado can actually like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s particular brand of musical theater, what with the falling chandeliers and shows that are – SERIOUSLY – T.S. Eliot poems sung by people dressed as cats on a stage that looks like a spaceship. In case you didn’t know, for real, that’s what Cats is. And that shit ran forever. Blech! But to his credit, he does write some great songs.
Video montage about the final 14. Everyone knows Matt should go home. Ahem, I mean, “has his work cut out for him.”
So which Danny’s and Sandy’s are safe from the sing-off? Kevin, Derek, Chad, Austin and… Max are safe. Jason “Can Mormons Be Gay? Danny” Celaya and Matt “Man-Tears” Nolan are in the bottom. As for Sandy’s, they call Ashley Anderson’s name first and I’m all, WTF, MATE? But after calling a few more girls’ names the show is all, PSYCH! as Cat Deely says that one of these girls is definitely in the bottom. Her name? Ashley “The Choker” Anderson. Oh, good one, show. You totally had me. I was about to flip out. And the other girl in the bottom is Allie “Heidi Montag without the Personality Sandy” Schultz. Burn, the judges liked you but AMERICA doesn’t.
Tonight the contestants are singing songs from “smash-hit musicals,” many by ALW himself. Why do they have to be “smash hits”? Why can’t a contestant sing a little Carrie if he or she wants? Keeping with the Webber-theme, they could even do some Woman in White. OMG, they should totally do a flops night, but that would just be too interesting. Also, I hope this doesn’t mean this is the last we hear of showtunes as song choices.
Up first is Max “Doody Danny” Crumm, singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John from The Lion King. Before he sings, we get a little peek at what Max has been doing for the past two weeks. He got a haircut, thus morphing him into Danny. I love you Max, but you still look like a Doody. Hey, stop giggling and get your kindergartener mind out of the gutter.
This performance is BO-ring, especially compared to some of the production numbers we’re going to get with the later boys. Based on the comments of later contestants, it’s clear they don’t get to pick their own songs, so this makes me think the producers are pushing for certain people by giving them more exciting numbers to perform. J’accuse, show!
Our first Sandy is Laura “Dull Sandy” Osnes. She’s singing the title number from ALW’s Jesus Christ Superstar. We see footage of Laura rehearsing with ALW, and they’re totally in the same rehearsal studios they use for SYTYCD! I’d recognize those hemispheric windows and red and yellow walls anywhere! He tells her she’s the first girl he can remember singing this song anywhere. Um, singing it in front of you, ALW, but I’ve definitely sung along to it in my car. And that was like three years ago.
Laura’s wearing a cool dress, but it makes her look like some sort of colorful bat with the hem attached to her wrists. And she’s barefoot, I guess because Jesus was a famous barefoot-ed person? Who knows. She sounds pretty great, but like all the girls tonight, she’s singing in a very low key, so it’s not that impressive that she’s belting.
ALW loved both of them. He also loves Max’s eyes. See? ALW’s really awkward! Kathleen wants to see more swagger from Max, but loved Laura. David Ian remarks that they love how Max has changed because they asked him to. Yes, the man producing Grease would like that message, wouldn’t he?
Next up: Derek “Wholesale Danny” Keeling. He’s worried about having to dance and sing at the same time. But he’s working out in the hopes that it will prevent him from getting out of breath during the number. He’s singing (and dancing!) to the title number from Footloose. Add Kevin Bacon to the list of guest judges we will not see on this show.
Derek’s got backup dancers and everything this week. He’s trying hard and he’s moving better than he was last week, but compared to his backup dancers he still looks like a total amateur. The winning Danny and Sandy are going to have to hold their own against professionals and Derek is really not there yet.
All the girls find Ashley “Dim Bulb Sandy” Spencer to be their main competition. “Her eyes glitter and so do her teeth.” Describes Allie. Ha, yeah I’d totally hate her too. We see her crying in rehearsal for no real reason. Drama queen.
She’s singing “Take That Look Off Your Face” from ALW’s Tell Me on a Sunday, which is a grrrreat song. Can the audience put their hands down please? You’re blocking my view. The first time I watched this performance I wasn’t impressed (again, she starts so low that the belting isn’t that special), but on repeat viewing, I’m kind of a fan.
As Ryan Seacrest presents Derek and Ashley to the judges for critiques, he comments on Derek’s sleeveless-ness. Ryan Seacrest hearts Derek’s arms. Also, ALW gets in a dig about pop stars lip-syncing. What a bitch.
Kevin “The Chin Danny” Greene also gets a number with backup dancers, and he’s loooving it. He’s singing “Burning Love” which the show tells us is from All Shook Up. Ugh, please. That song is from ELVIS, not the jukebox musical based on his work. Kevin doesn’t measure up to his backup dancers either. Also, why are the judges obsessed with Max’s hair when Kevin could also use a haircut?
Juliana “Poor Sandy” Hansen is still using that overly sweet speaking voice. She reminds me more and more of Lyla Garrity every episode. As she performs “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” for ALW, she adds some vowels to the word “promise.” And then she does it again! Why doesn’t anyone correct her? During her live performance Juliana’s voice is perfectly lovely, but she sounds overly musical-theater-y. Very trained, but not very interesting. ALW looks bored.
The judges weren’t overly impressed with either of them. Kevin was too timid with the ladies and Juliana has a wall between her and her audience. When we come back from commercials, punny ALW says his TV show that cast The Sound of Music for the West End should have been called, “You’re the Nun that I Want.” Rimshot! Then he goes on to bash this American version for a lack of diversity. Nice! He also takes a little dig at David Ian’s bravado. Sounds like someone’s gunning for the nickname “Randy Jackson!”
The second group number tonight is the title number of The Phantom of the Opera. Aaand, basically, they just walk around in circles, singing slowly and intensely. Suffice it to say, this performance is far from thrilling.
The only thing that makes this song remotely chilling in the actual show is the crazed cackling of the Phantom as he hypnotizes Christine. Without it they just look like zombies walking in circles. Shoulda done “Masquerade” or maybe something from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? That show has some great group numbers.
“Faye Dunaway could have done better.”
Chad “Pretty Boy Danny” Doreck is sick with the flu, but ALW still liked him in rehearsal. He’s singing “My Eyes Adored You” from Jersey Boys. Again, that’s actually by the Four Seasons, not the jukebox musical based on their lives! What a boring song. Jersey Boys is a slick, fast musical, but during this number I was bored. Same thing happening here. Also, I’m hating his outfit. It offends my eyes. But his voice sounds pretty good considering he’s got the flu.
Kate “Seriously Guys, She’s Got a Mullet Sandy” Rockwell is singing “Buenos Aires” from Evita. I love this song. I bet she’ll be awesome on it. I’m so right. The last notes in particular are incredible. But again, I hate the outfit. It’s like a figure skating costume with a hula skirt over it. Costumer, do you have eyes?!
Jim Jacobs says this week’s show is weird because it’s Broadway week. WHY IS THAT WEIRD?! You’re casting a Broadway show!
Next: Austin “Proud Danny” Miller. Now I know he’s not popular with the fans, but he really is my favorite performer. Okay, and also, he’s singing “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz. Dorothy! Amazing! And amazing it is, as Austin is AWESOME. Especially considering he’s filling the shoes of Michael Jackson when he was black, well loved and not creepy. He’s the only guy who outshined his backup dancers. Great all-around performance. Bravo! Bravo!
Kathleen “Hester Prynne Sandy” Monteleone is singing “one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous songs.” It’s totally “Memory.” I’m right again! Count it, that’s two! She’s turning all red as she rehearses. Breathe, lady! Yowza, Kathleen’s got some pipes. This is a slow song, but her performance is not boring at all. The judges would like to see Kathleen being more youthful next week, and all loved Austin and his proud performance.
Now it’s time for the sing-off. This is just sad. We all know who’s going. Jason Celaya is SOOO pissed he’s there. Also, WTF, America? Allie and Jason were he ones with the actual lowest vote totals. Sometimes I’m all about the underdogs, but come on America, some people are underdogs for a reason. For instance: Being completely unqualified.
When we get back from commercial it’s elimination time: Matt, you are not Danny. In the immortal words of David Ian: Broadway is no place for beginners. Inspirational. I want to put that on a mug. And Ashley, you are not Sandy. I swear, if these two show up on my TV next week I’m going to punch this show in the kidney. Matt and Ashley take their booting very graciously. No man-tears this time. No lady-tears either, which is the bigger surprise.
Jason Celaya sings Buddy Holly’s “That’ll be the Day” from no Broadway show, ever. Weird. The shrunken blazer is not a good look on Jason. He’s also trying to gyrate his hips in an Elvis-y way, but he just looks spastic. The singing is less-than-stellar too. I’m not a fan. Neither are the judges. Ten bucks says he goes home next week.
Allie was saved from elimination, and is now singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” What boggles the mind (besides the neckline on her dress) is that if by some freak chance she was eliminated, no one would’ve sung this on the Andrew Lloyd Webber show. Blasphemy! Eh, I can’t focus on her performance. The song is bringing back memories from an audition in high school when I butchered this song. That’s when I started to realize I’m kind of tone-deaf. Ah memories… all alone in the moonlight… Cat Deely rushes the judges through their comments. Overall they liked Allie, but want to see more maturity.
When we get back from commercial, the judges are asked to name who they would cast right now. David Ian likes Austin and Laura. Kathleen likes Derek (what?!) and Kathleen. Jim likes Max (again, what? Tonight?!) and Laura (stop!). The world-wide-Webber (HA!) likes Derek and Laura. I mean, I know these people are titans in their field and who am I to judge, but COME ON. Derek was NOT the best tonight and neither was Laura. Austin and Kate all the way!
Before the ousted Danny and Sandy can leave, they have to perform one more time. Yes. There will be tears. But sadly, no man-tears. Matt sings while all the remaining Danny’s “console” him. I would so want to punch them in the face if I were in his place, but maybe I have rage issues. The words they make Ashley Anderson sing are particularly pathetic. As the remaining Sandy’s come in, she’s totally crying. Aw, sad. But she doesn’t crack on the high note she choked on from the beginning! We’ll chalk that little bit of croakiness up to the tears.
According to the NBC website, Jon Secada is next week’s guest judge. Wait, who is that? What, if any, relationship does Jon Secada have with Grease or musical theater in general? WTF, show?! So, any new favorites this week? Bets on who’s going home next week? Anyone agree with me about Austin’s Awesomeness? Anyone?