Streaming Review: All The Cool Kids Are Watching GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES On Paramount+

No Cool Riders, Only Pink Ladies.

By: Apr. 21, 2023
Streaming Review: All The Cool Kids Are Watching GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES On Paramount+

Streaming Review: All The Cool Kids Are Watching GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES On Paramount+ Welcome to another installment of our thoughts on some streaming entertainment, this time coming to you from the fab children at Paramount+. So jump in the stream with Bobby, and let's see if our rainbow lands on a pot of gold.

We have just finished the third episode of GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES on Paramount+ and, oh my children, we are in Seven Minutes In Heaven. This origin story about the girl gang of Rydell High takes us back a few years to before Rizzo, Frenchy, and the rest were the big ladies on campus, and tells of how Frenchy's older sister, Jane, founded the Pink Ladies. All of which makes sense if, like Little Bobby, you lovely readers are all up on your GREASE (The Musical Movie) quotes, facts, and trivia... So, let's talk about why RISE OF THE PINK LADIES is terrific even for the GREASE uninitiated. The show is an hour-format musical sitcom, not at all like GLEE, since this show has scripts that make sense, original music, and all the players are all triple threats. Each member of the cast, from stars to chorus members, are dancing Jamal Simms' (RUPAUL's DRAG RACE, 13 THE MUSICAL, and the STEP UP franchise) complex and layered choreo full out, with moves that belie at least some, if not years, of dance training, and, together, they make the musical numbers joys to watch. Simms' work draws on the dance moves of schmaltzy 50's sock-hops but, then, makes them more Sock-HIP-Hops, mixing in the idioms of jazz, Broadway, and contemporary dance. Vocally, each soloist can wail, whether the music is a pastiche of 50's Rock & Roll bee-bop, heartfelt ballads, or anthems of teenage defiance. Acting-wise, the young stars playing high schoolers are all credible as teens, and all are acting at a very high level. Marisa Davila, as Pink Lady founder Jane Facciano, in her first series star slot, molds her gosh-oh-gee good girl beginnings into the radical feminist pot stirrer quickly and adeptly, so as to avoid annoyance. Vocally, her anthem in ep. 3 - I WANT MORE - is an impressive wail of frustration, in an attempt to relieve her teen tension, albeit unsuccessfully, given her gender and the 1950s. Her dance moves in this number exemplify that pressure, as well as top her triple threat, triple layer cake admirably. Her three Pink Lady cohorts played by Cheyenne Isabel Wells, Tricia Fukuhara, and Ari Notartomaso match their pal on all levels, and each of them is given star turns as actors and singers, or both, in each of these first three episodes. The addition of Shanel Bailey (though, as of Ep. 3, her super-brained Hazel is not yet a pink lady) gives another level of telescopic examination, as a young black woman on the outside, observing 4 outsiders, with all 5 trying hard to find their place. The cast is one of the most racially diverse Little Bobby has seen on TV, and, in three episodes, their stories have tackled 1950s racism, feminism, misogyny, and sexuality - making this show important, as well as wildly entertaining.

The story so far - Jane, who had been the new girl from New York City at Rydell the year before, is secretly dating Buddy, the super white, super jock played by the super handsome Jason Schmidt - another vocal powerhouse. The kids decide to take their relationship and Jane's ambition to run for student council public. However, Jane's family is playing their parents' "mixed marriage" of Italian father and Latinx mom on the DL, which presents obstacles for Jane's advancement in high school society. Each of the 4 Pink Ladies is swirling in a whirlpool of 1950s small-mindedness about race and gender and sexuality and finds that they must band together to create scandals and shenanigans, in order to get what they want from their Rydell experience. To ripen the show's already diverse, multicultural landscape, this young cast is mixed in with veterans, like the incomparable Jackie Hoffman, award-winning actor-director-writer Mayumi Yoshida, and the ever-gorgeous David Alpay. The scripts are geared toward a Y/A audience and offer them laughs and music galore, but they are also well crafted and give the central characters places to go, and livable arcs to play. The music by Zachary Dawes, Nick Sena, and Justin Tranter (with a nod in ep. 1 to Barry Gibb's GREASE IS THE WORD from the 1978 film) combines with the stories to build on the foundations laid by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' Broadway musical and their big screen adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This brings Little Bobby full circle and back to why this show is a must-see for the older generations as well. GREASE was a record-breaking Broadway musical. GREASE, the movie - ditto, record-breaking smash that folded itself into the cultural landscape way back when. This is a familiar world, here, since creator Anabel Oakes is a bona fide GREASE fanatic. So much of this new canvas is painted to remind us of the Rydell we grew up with, and it all feels comfortable while allowing new air to be breathed into the landscape. Sets, costumes, art direction, scripts, all of it have generous callouts and easter eggs throughout that will make GREASE fans more than happy, it will make them giggle and even drop a tear or two.

There are even legacy roles being given an origin story. In Hoffman's case, she inherits comic great Eve Arden's Principal McGee, before becoming a principal. As Vice Principal McGee, Jackie Hoffman has done what a pro comic player would do, in that she makes the part her own without abandoning her inheritance completely. In short, she goes to live in Eve Arden's house and then decorates it the Hoffman way. Madison Elizabeth Lagares takes on Didi Conn's Frenchy in a way that clearly shows she did her homework, as she perfectly evokes the character we all knew and loved as the Pink Lady beauty school dropout. So, as you can read, here, my dearlings, this show has kicked off with a bang in Bobby's books and we can't recommend it highly enough to everyone, GREASE fan or newbie alike and so this one gets our hearty...

5 Out Of 5 Rainbows

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Streaming Review: All The Cool Kids Are Watching GREASE: RISE OF THE PINK LADIES On Paramount+


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This show has kicked off with a bang in Bobby’s books and we can’t recommend it highly enough to everyone GREASE fan or newbie alike

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