In front of us was a stage full of pretty people -- the stars of Fox's upcoming (Jan. 31) "Grease: Live." Still, I kept being drawn to Carly Rae Jepsen. Short and slight and cute and almost giggly, she seemed like the 1950s dream of a girl-next-door girlfriend. In short, she's perfect to play Frenchy in "Grease." I talked to her after the session and sent this story to papers:
By Mike Hughes
Carly Rae Jepsen
recalls a long-ago chat that helped propel her career.
She was 8 or so, on
a car ride. “We were listening to Bob Dylan and I asked my mother
what it would take for me to become famous as a singer,” she
recalled. “And she told me, 'Just have a weird voice.'
“I remember taking
that to heart and not trying to sound like anybody other than how I
It's not your usual
rock-star, pop-star sound, but it's served her well. In 2011, her
“Call Me Maybe” was the top-selling song worldwide.
And it's not your
usual rock-star persona. Jepsen, 30, is short (5-foot-2) and slight,
with a gentle manner, just this side of giggly. That makes her
perfect to play Frenchy – the overwhelmed beauty-school drop-out --
in Fox's live “Grease” musical.
Back in her
high-school production, Jepsen starred as the sorta-perfect Sandy. “I
could not walk in heels the way” Julianne Hough, the current Sandy,
She was growing up
in a folky family in Mission, amid the mountainside, Canadian beauty
of British Columbia. “It was very much a musical home We would get
costumes and put on our shows.”
In high school she
did “Grease” and “Annie” and “The Wiz”; along the way,
she said, she felt encouraged. “My parents would always make me
believe the world was my oyster.”
It almost wasn't.
She needed part time jobs – barista and bartender and such – to
get through performing-arts school in Victoria. She finished third on
“Canadian Idol” and had to release her first album independently.
Then “Call Me Maybe” made her famous.
Now she's surrounced
by others who grew up in musical worlds.
“I feel like
'Grease' has just always been a part of my life,” Vanessa Hudgens
said. She plays Rizzo now and started this TV-musical surge a decade
ago with “High School Musical.”
Hough – who stars
in this one alongside Aaron Tveit – remembers doing the show in her
basement when she wasa 5. “I was Sandy and then, during the dance
scene, I turned into Cha Cha, and then I went back to Sandy.”
Kether Donohue, who
plays Jan, was Frenchy in an 8th-grade production. Now
it's Jepsen's turn to be Frenchy, which means she:
-- Has the only new
song. “I was really surprised when they said, 'We're writing a song
-- Is crooned to
reassuringly by Boyz II Men. “They made the song their own,” said
producer Marc Platt, but “it's still 'Beauty School Dropout' ....
It's been really, really fun.”
-- And shows off her
hairdo misadventures. Frenchy “gets to rock many a 'do,” Jepson
said, “from red to pink to yellow and beyond ....She is just not so
skilled in beauty school She tries and tries again.”
So did Jepsen, back
when she didn't sound or look like a pop star. Then she became one.
-- “Grease: Live”
-- 7-10 p.m. Sunday,
Fox; live in Eastern time zones, tape-delayed in the West
-- Directed by
Thomas Kail (“Hamilton”) onstage and on several Warner Brothers
spots; then the characters converge for the final, carnival scenes