From 'Dirty Dancing' to Jesus Christ Superstar: Ranking How the Internet Felt About All the TV Musical Adaptations

Twitter always has a lot of feelings

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert - Season 2018
Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Every time you change the channel, it seems that another primetime network has revamped another classic for the small screen — and sometimes, to viewers’ displeasure.

After this week’s Jesus Christ Superstar concert, which was quite the fan favorite, we’re taking a look back at what the Internet has had to say about the rest of the primetime musical adaptations, from the low to high notes.

9. Dirty Dancing

The latest addition to the primetime lineup of musical remakes was a little different. ABC’s Dirty Dancing wasn’t technically a musical, and it wasn’t live, as many of the revamps have been. Another difference? It was panned, by critics and viewers alike. Twitter users called it a “train wreck,” said they’d “rather get a root canal” and that their “eyes are bleeding.”

8. Peter Pan Live!

The second NBC live musical — the one that took the phenomenon from one-off production to annual tradition — didn’t go so well, according to Twitter. The technical aspects (like visible wires during the “flying” scenes) were hit with a fair amount of criticism. Some compared the experience to being on drugs or watching an SNL sketch — not exactly the reaction you’re looking for during a family-friendly children’s musical.

7. The Passion

Fox broke new ground with The Passion, a live musical that tells the story of Jesus Christ’s days before the crucifixion — except, with a twist, it was set in modern-day New Orleans. Like the story, the music wasn’t original, and instead featured pop culture covers. Twitter had a lot of feelings about the production, from the positive, to the negative, to the just plain confused.

6. The Sound of Music Live!

Though it was one of the most-watched live musicals, at 18.6 million, NBC’s The Sound of Music Live wasn’t a complete smash success, in part because viewers felt that while Carrie Underwood’s singing was sensational, her acting chops weren’t quite there. (It’s never easy to be compared to a legend like Julie Andrews!)

Audra McDonald’s performance was a favorite moment, however.

The real star of the night was DiGiorno Pizza, which live-tweeted the entire production with lots of pizza references.

5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror isn’t just a classic, it’s a cult classic. And when you decide to remake a cult classic, you need to be prepared for criticism. Fox’s Rocky Horror got that — and more. But despite the back-and-forth online, Laverne Cox’s performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter was clearly the highlight of the (pre-taped) night.

But even Cox wasn’t enough to convince some fans.

4. Hairspray Live!

Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Trae Patton/NBC

Hairspray just got the remake treatment back in 2007, with the successful Zac Efron and John Travolta-starring film. Nearly 10 years later, with a star-studded cast (Ariana Grande, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson and Derek Hough, to name a few), its catchy tunes did just as well on the small screen, on NBC. (Though many fans did miss Efron’s portrayal of Link Larkin, which is understandable.)

3. The Wiz Live!

Coming off of the iffy Peter Pan, NBC viewers were hopeful for a better experience with The Wiz. And they got it, with many Twitter users remarking on how much more they liked The Wiz than Pan. The cast was packed with ultra-talented stars, too: Queen Latifah, Common, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, Elijah Kelley and more.

2. Jesus Christ Superstar

There’s no denying it: NBC’s Easter Day concert of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, was epic. John Legend gave an incredible performance as Jesus, as did Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas — not to mention the rest of the cast. The staging was inventive but not over-the-top, the energy was electric. And social media was absolutely loving it.

The one complaint? The plot was, at times, a bit confusing. (But that didn’t do much to stop the love.)

1. Grease: Live

Fox’s first live musical, Grease, was a huge success, starring big names like Julianne Hough, Broadway vet Aaron Tveit, Carly Rae Jepsen and Vanessa Hudgens. There were plenty of cameos, too, with Boyz II Men singing “Beauty School Dropout” and Didi Conn, the original Frenchy, as a waitress in the Pink Lady and T-Bird’s go-to hangout spot. The music was fun, and at times, emotional (Hudgens’ rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” came just hours after the death of her father), and the addition of a live audience helped keep the energy going. The critics and Twitter agreed: Grease is the kind of musical remake we all want going forward.

Up next on the TV musical front: NBC’s Jennifer Lopez-starring Bye Bye Birdie Live!, which was just pushed to 2018; NBC’s live Easter 2018 Jesus Christ Superstar; Fox’s live winter 2017 A Christmas Story; and Fox’s live rendition of Rent, date TBD.

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