NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Hamilton creator and the Broadway musical's former star Lin-Manuel Miranda moderated a panel discussion about FOX's television production Grease Live! in New York Monday night.
"Hello. I'm stage and screen's Lin-Manuel Miranda and I'm famous for the show a block away and we're here to talk about Grease Live! I, along with many of you, experienced this live on Twitter and freaked out in real time as the bar for what could be done with a movie musical, live on screen, sort of was raised overnight," the Tony Award-winner joked with the hundreds of people who packed the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan, just blocks away from where Hamilton is still playing. "So, I am thrilled to get to talk to the people who made that happen tonight and they're going to talk about technically what went into it. ... Also, you have to know, that, full disclosure, [Grease Live!] was directed by the guy who directed the show up the street, Mr. Tom Kail. And here he is."
Miranda then introduced Kail's Grease Live! co-director Alex Rudzinski, as well as the program's male lead Aaron Tveit, who played Danny Zuko; the movie musical's costume designer William Ivey Long; and its casting director Bernard Telsey.
"One of the very early conversations I had with the folks at Paramount really was a very simple premise: 'If we're going to put the word "live" in the title, let's embrace it. Let's wrap our arms around that idea and let's show the joy of making this in front of all these people. Let's celebrate all the people you see on-screen and celebrate all the people you don't get to see by making this musical,'" Kail explained. "I knew we wanted to do some sort of opening number that showed the wires. ... And we also really loved the idea of -- once an act -- showing something magical. Embracing the theatricality of it, embracing the cinematic nature of it."
Tveit, whom Miranda introduced as "someone who sort of seemed to get all of the Internet pregnant at the same time" when the movie premiered, talked about the experience of practicing for months for a show that would only be performed live on television once.
"Half of it was very similar to getting ready to do eight shows a week... and then we stepped on stage at Warner Bros. and it all came to a crashing halt and we were in tech for a month. But, no, I practiced very much the same way, except it's this really fine line... Opening nights aren't usually the best shows," Tveit noted. "So, it was a really hard thing to try to get ready for opening night and to have it be the [quality] of show you would have six weeks into a run, which was very difficult. Just the fact we started in a rehearsal room, with tape on the floor, it just felt very similar. For me, personally, I really leaned on the Les Miserables movie experience a little bit because that was the only thing, that I, in a similar way, had to prep for a movie the way I would prep for being on stage. ... So, just in my own head, I had something to kind of gage against."
Co-starring Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Keke Palmer, Carly Rae Jepsen and Carlos PenaVega, Grease Live! is up for 10 Emmy Awards this year. It debuted on FOX on Jan. 31 and is now available on Netflix.