Tuesday, January 23

Grease Academy

Tonight we finally get to see Grease Academy, the singing/dancing/acting 'boot camp' the contestants are put through before being whittled down to, first, the top 24, then the top 12 who'll perform 'live' for the viewers' votes! It is quite intense; Day 1 is 14 hours of classes, training, practicing, critiquing, and scoping out the competition.

On the afternoon of Day 2 the contestants have 2 hours to learn a 'new' (to them) 50's song, then they have a "Sudden death sing-off" where everyone stands in the gym and sings at the same time. David Ian will then walk around the room and touch the shoulder of those being cut, who must then immediately leave the room & the Academy. Hoo!

Many eliminated here are not familiar faces, but the ones that previously got a good amount of screentime are Jacqueline Petzel, 19 (poor dancing), Matt Carpenter, 22 (I think he was the guy of the 'couple' that got through causing his girl to dump him), Vince Ortiz, 20, and Dominic, 42 (nice but too old).

The remaining 24 then have 48 hours to prepare for their "showcase," a performance for a house full of critics and celebrities (we're shown Jai Rodriguez, who's done some Broadway, plus Marisa Winokur, Marilu Henner, Jeff Conaway, and Barry Bostwick, who've all been in Grease either on Broadway or in the movie). The showcase will consist of an ensemble number opening and then small groups performing "pop numbers chosen to mimic the emotions of Danny & Sandy." In these groups each contestant sings a solo & there's also some harmonizing; a few have a little dancing as well.

"I'll Be There" is done by Kate Rockwell, 22 (I don't think we've seen much of her yet), Juliana Hansen, 23 (redhead; I think she's adorable, but she admits she's less trained), Ashley Anderson, 21 (also adorable, I think she has the best Sandy-type personality, at least the naivete), and Laura Osnes, 20 (who?).

"Crying" - Reed Prescott, 30, Max Crumm, 21 (the one w/long hair whose 'look' has been criticized, but the 3 judges say he could be the most talented contestant there), Derek Keeling, 26 (great voice, and I like his personality/look), and Nathaniel Flatt, 25 (ah, the awesome Hispanic - I believe - dancer I caught a glimpse of last week - he's listed as "a dancer" so it makes sense that he's so good!).

"Complicated" - Kelli LaValle, 17 (she's gotten a lot of airtime & in this ep is shown getting her daily 3 hrs of tutoring since she's still in high school), Kathleen Monteleone, 23 (a blond we haven't seen much of before), Alexandra Fassler, 19 (another "who?"), and Sara Darling, 25 (another new face).

"Jailhouse Rock" - George Pellegrino, 29 (I love his 'look' for Danny - rather cocky - but he seems to have a weaker voice than others), Matt Nolan (the very untrained guy who's gotten tons of screentime; he's shown much improved after just a few suggestions from David), Nick Dalton, 26 (has a good look for Danny), and Chad Doreck, 27 (I like his look/personality very well for Danny - he seems a bit cocky - but his voice is weaker than others).

"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" - Austin Miller, 30 (my fave guy; voiceover says he's "making it look easy" during rehearsal!), Kevin Greene, 22 (haven't seen him before; has a really nice voice), Steve Calakos, 20 (his hair scares me!), and Jason Celeya, 31 (he, Chad & George are called "the trio" as they've become good friends & practice together; Jason has a unique look & could bring a different/good feel to Danny).

and lastly "True Colors" - Ashley Spencer, 21 (probably the best female singer I've seen, & maybe the best dancer, but could be too 'polished'?), Cara Hille, 21 (my early favorite but less trained than others; she & Ashley are also new BFF), Lexi Rhoades, 20 (the black gal w/very good voice & confident stage presence), and Allie Shultz, 18 (another blond we've not seen).

After deliberation, the judges call folks to the front of the stage in pairs or threes to announce who's "Not Danny/Sandy" and who's "The One That We Want." Those advancing to the live show are:

Girls: Ashley S, Kate, Laura, Kathleen, Allie, and Juliana (yay!).
Guys: Derek, Jason, Chad, max, Kevin, and Austin (yay!!).

I'm disappointed for Ashley A (though she seems to take it well), Nathaniel (well, I'm more disappointed we didn't see more of him), Cara, Matt (though I agree he wasn't ready), and Nick. I'm looking forward to seeing how they format the live shows as far as letting us see contestants' all-around talents. And hopefully they'll start pairing them up so we can see who has chemistry as a couple.

Bios & such are up at the official site. Next week's show is 2 hours starting at 7 EST, with guest judge Olivia Newton John, and "a twist". Bring it on!

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