Grease Live!, which was released on DVD Tuesday with oodles of special features and no pesky commercial breaks, will be remembered for a lot of reasons. Not only did they pull off incredible feats for live television, but the beloved musical was reinvigorated for a new audience. Nobody knows this better Didi Conn, the original Frenchy from the Grease film, who played Vi in the Fox broadcast — one of the night's best callbacks to the classic film.
"It was a great experience," says Conn. "I couldn't believe it. I had an easy job! I mean, the way that the cast had to run from one sound stage to another and change costumes and change makeup and change wigs; and then just be as composed and with it and in the moment — it was awesome!"
What we missed on the broadcast, according to the actress, was a wild experience that proves how exciting live television can be. Remember how casually everyone was dancing with umbrellas during the Grease Live! opening? "When we got up in the morning that Sunday," she says "it was pouring rain! In Southern California you don't get rain like that. It was coming down in sheets. And they had heard the forecast and nobody wanted to believe it. But we had to rehearse a Plan B." Then, 20 minutes before showtime, wind started up and the fire department forbade them from using the rain tarps. "So we had to rehearse another plan." It wasn't until five minutes before the broadcast that the rain finally calmed down. That is the true magic of Hollywood and Broadway combined. "I tell ya," she jokes, "it kept everybody's attention!"
Conn also sings the praises of the live musical's behind the scenes crew — directors Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski, Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long, and the writers Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins who adapted the material for television and incorporated various versions of Grease that have graced the stage and screen throughout the years. They brought such humor," Conn says. "They were terrific ... it was kind of like opening up a Grease surprise. And I loved it. I thought they did a fabulous job."
Grease super fans also know that Conn revised her role as Frenchy in Grease 2. She's basically the queen of Rydell High at this point. "Frenchy really wanted to go in the beauty business," she says. "She really cared about how her friends looked and how they felt and wanting to take care of them; and I guess that's the kind of person I am too." Of course, as Conn notes, Carly Rae Jepson's Frenchy had three Teen Angels singing to her instead of one.
"I don't think a day goes by somebody doesn't come up to you and say 'oh my God, I played you,'" Conn says, "or 'they're doing Grease in my kid's [school]!" The legacy of this show is backed up by its themes, according to her. "Grease is about friendship," she says. "We'll always be together."
Image: Paramount; Giphy (2)