'In Loving Memory': Vanessa Hudgens Knocks It Out of the Park in 'Grease: Live' Hours After Revealing Father's Death

Hudgens had announced that her father had died on Saturday

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX

Hours after revealing that her father lost his battle with cancer, Vanessa Hudgens stepped back in front of millions of people while performing as Betty Rizzo in Fox’s Grease: Live on Sunday night.

The 27-year-old former High School Musical star wrote earlier that day that she would dedicate the show in “honor” of her father, Greg, who died Saturday.

“I am so sad to say that last night my daddy, Greg passed away from stage 4 cancer,” Hudgens wrote when announcing his death. “Thank you to everyone who kept him in your prayers.”

The tragedy put a sharp edge on what was to be an joyous night.

Hudgens joined a star-studded cast – including Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Carly Rae Jepsen – for the live musical event.

While Hough may have had the leading role, it was Hudgens who drew the most praise on Twitter, especially after people learned that she was performing after losing her father.

The praise really started pouring in after Hudgens gave a flawless performance of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”

“I definitely watched [Grease] growing up. I feel like it always a part of my life,” she told Jimmy Kimmel last week, of preparing for the show.

“I mean, she’s such an amazing part,” Hudgens said of Rizzo, after admitting that she’d envisioned herself more as a Sandy. “Now that I’m older, I’m like, oh my God. She’s tough. She’s got grit.”

Ahead of the show, Hudgens also told PEOPLE about how much the original movie meant to her childhood.

“From the first time I saw it, I kind of just remember it being a part of my childhood,” she said. “I always knew all the songs. It’s just one of those musicals that you never get sick of because it’s so much fun. It feels like a big party and you get to be a part of it. when I got the call saying that they were interested in me as Rizzo I said, really? Because I’ve always thought of myself as Sandy and the more that I thought over it, the more that I realized that this was an awesome opportunity to play a character that I’ve never played before she’s so strong and such an amazing woman figure in musical theater history.”

The show ended on a poignant note, dedicated the show to Hudgens’ father.

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