Even though the entire country was collectively hand jivin' when Grease: Live! aired Sunday night, viewers were also thinking of one family in particular. Vanessa Hudgens' father died yesterday from stage four cancer, and the grieving actress dedicated her Grease: Live! performance to her dad and his memory. Her courage and willingness to continue on with the show, despite her overwhelming loss, made a few scenes especially sad to watch. One in particular, Vanessa Hudgens' "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" performance, gave a new meaning to the lyrics, "cry in front of you, that's the worst thing I could do." It was heartfelt, it was emotional, and it was obvious that the actress was pushing through an unimaginable pain in order to entertain the masses.
The scene, originally performed by Stockard Channing, was a reaction to her possible pregnancy and, I'm assuming, stood as an ode to women who were fallaciously labeled as "sluts" for simply expressing themselves. Clearly the concept wasn't exactly "celebrated" in 1978 when the film was first released, but the song made an appearance, and hearing it now still sends shockwaves through my system. It would be easy to surmise that the writers of the original script took a risk with such a song, as it made Rizzo a complex character and suggested that a woman in touch with her desires could be not only relatable but sympathetic. On Sunday night it gave Hudgens that same depth.
Vanessa Hudgens' gave the performance an entirely new meaning, and it only added to how moving and emotional that scene was (and now is). Hudgens is a professional with a job, a job she chose to do despite her pain. She, like her character Rizzo, is strong and multifaceted and knows she may well be judged for her choices, but makes them anyway. She chose to go on stage and perform in front of a packed house (and an even bigger national audience) in light of a devastating loss, and her decision not only gave Hudgens' performance emotional weight, it only further added to the importance of the song.
Will everyone agree with Hudgens' decision to continue on with the show in lieu of her father's passing? No. Of course not. Does Hudgens care? Maybe — we don't know — but if so, she didn't let it stop her performance. Just like her character, she knows "There Are Worst Things" she could do than doing what feels right for her.
And then, of course, there were people who applauded her decision to go on with the show, and made it known via Twitter:
Now here's a look at the original. Tell me Vanessa didn't slay that scene. Really, I dare you:
Yeah. Thought so.