Fox is entering the trendy "live musical event" sphere with its live production of Grease on January 31st, and it's differentiating the show from NBC productions like The Sound of Music and The Wiz by incorporating a studio audience "in the multiple hundreds." Director Thomas Kail and designer David Korins revealed the audience's presence in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter this afternoon. The audience won't just be sitting out of sight, either: members will handle props and deliver some lines as part of the performance, though they won't be in costume.
Korins shared a mock-up of one of the production's sets with THR, and it features bleachers full of audience members on either side of the main performers, who are dancing and singing on Rydell High's gym floor. This is an interesting gamble on Fox's part, though it's probably not as risky as it seems at a glance. If the performance is going well, it's not going to be derailed by one flubbed line from an extra; if it's going off the rails anyway, it'll just be part of the trainwreck. Kail and Korins also revealed Fox's production will include songs from both the 1971 stage and 1978 movie versions of the original Grease, meaning the show's collection of musical numbers will be unique among major Grease productions.
"There's an energy and an undeniable vitality that real humans give back to real humans that... we wanted to try to capture and exploit," said Korins. "We're going to flesh out the world with real, giving-back audience members... you're going to have to tune in January 31st to see where and how we're going to use them."
Grease: Live stars Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, and Carly Rae Jepsen, and it's set to air on January 31st.