Inside "Grease: Live"

January 31, 2016

If you were obsessed with “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live!,” you’re undoubtedly living for “Grease: Live.” The new production of the musical Grease, which aired this month on Fox, has a stellar cast (see below)—and is jam-packed with energetic dance routines choreographed by Zach Woodlee. Dance Spirit caught up with Woodlee to talk about the premiere.

Dance Spirit
: What’s most challenging about choreographing a live production?

Zach Woodlee: Stamina. Our actors aren’t singing to pre-recorded tracks, and their voices aren’t “sweetened.” I have to get them to give energetic performances throughout the show.

: Talk to us about your choreographic process. Did you start from scratch, or did you revisit the iconic dance moves from Grease?

ZW: There are pros and cons to revisiting a period piece. I like to have movement reminiscent of the time. But giving it a fresh look by exploring today’s dance styles helps enhance the show.

: What’s the rehearsal process like?

ZW: Long and caffeine-fueled! Rehearsals are the most fun part of the process. Watching all the pieces come together and feeling the creative energy in the room is

so rewarding.

: Which Grease character can you most relate to and why?

ZW: I think I’m the Blanche of it all. I can never seem to remember where I put things, and I’m horrible with a xylophone.

: What’s been most exciting about the experience?

ZW: I loved working with the creative team. Director Tommy Kail and executive producer Marc Platt are people I have huge respect for, and I’ve enjoyed going through this process with them.

: What’s the weirdest Grease fact you’ve learned?

ZW: In Mexico, the film was titled Vaselina!

: What’s next for you?

ZW: I hope this will help give me a platform to start dipping into Broadway, which has always been very appealing to me.

Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough looking suave in a scene from the production (Photo Michael Becker/FOX)