Grease: Live's Vanessa Hudgens Gives Incredible Performance Hours After Losing Her Father to Cancer

For Grease: Live star Vanessa Hudgens, performing in Sunday’s production was a bittersweet experience.

Less than 24 hours before stepping into the iconic role of Betty Rizzo in front of millions of viewers, Hudgens lost her father Greg to cancer.

In a set of tweets to her 5.7 million followers, Hudgens shared the tragic news of her father’s passing, as well as her intention to dedicate her performance to him:

Hudgens first announced her father’s diagnosis in Aug. 2015 during her acceptance speech for Breakthrough Performer at the Industry Dance Awards.

Of course, you’d never know about Hudgens’ internal struggles by watching her in Grease: Live. From the moment she appeared on camera — and especially during the pitch-perfect “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” and heartbreaking “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (video above) — she was every bit the spunky, headstrong Rizzo we hoped she’d be.

Your thoughts on Hudgens’ performances? Drop a comment below, then click through our gallery to grade all of tonight’s big numbers.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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54 Comments
  1. Trinity says:

    She’s doing more than great. I’m so proud of her, and I bet so is her dad. We love you, Vanessa. <3

  2. Chad says:

    She’s no Stockard Channing

  3. Lynn Redding says:

    Loving the show! Not only is she doing her dad proud but I’m sure John and Olivia are loving it as well.

  4. Miriam Estrera says:

    Vanessa , your performance was absolutely fantastic. I just found out about your dad’s death in the middle of your performance . God bless him and your family.

  5. Jerri says:

    Vanessa Hudgens is doing a great job in her performance of Rizzo.

  6. KC says:

    She is fantastic. Too bad she wasn’t cast as Sandy.

  7. Stacy says:

    Hardest thing ever. Lost my dad to cancer as well. I give you all the love in the world and believe me your angel is with you every step of the way. Your strength tonight in this performance is amazing and your father is extremely proud of his girl no matter where he is ….

  8. maggie48 says:

    Vanessa I am so sorry to hear about your daddy. May he rest in peace. You are doin a phenominal job and your dad is looking down at you. Hugs to you and your family. Maggie

  9. Jessica Larkins says:

    I’m loving her as Rizzo my heart goes out to her and her family. Love you Vanessa. You’ll definitely be in my prayers

  10. Rose Wilson says:

    So sorry for your loss Vanessa. Your performance is great. Your dad would be proud.

  11. Joanne says:

    She did a good job doing the Sandra Dee song. And I love Juliann hough as sandy and her singing and dancing. But besides that not really feeling it. I’m a travolta and Olivia Newton john fan . sorry!

  12. Phun says:

    Vanessa is doing a great job! I’m sure her father would be so proud of her performance.

  13. Edie says:

    Loved it!

  14. This was AWFUL!!! This should was horribly produced, totally miscast with Sandy and Danny they look like parents of soccer kids. I hate to be negative on this “live” event and yes I did say HATE. Some of the songs were never in the first one. They stuck to original broadway score. Whose stupid idea was that? The original movie had meaning. This whatever it is, just sucks. The only exceptions were Keke and Carly. the rest was awful casting! I can’t wait till they destroy The Rocky Horror Picture show is next, Starring Laverne Cox for fux sake!

  15. Vera Bauer says:

    Right before this was announced, I said I thought her perormance was the Best!

  16. Dude says:

    She’s doing a great job and the production overall is impressive.

  17. Linda says:

    I think that Vanessa Husgens performance in Grease was spectacular giving all she has gone through in the past 24 hours.

  18. stevieweevie says:

    Well I just saw “worst thing I could do” & I have no idea how Vanessa got through it. It honestly felt a bit rushed but under the circumstances…any haters need to check it.

  19. Ken Robinson says:

    Total professionalism, but more importantly total commitment to the show and your dad. He would be very proud, but you already know that. Thank you, my four kids are loving the show and you are their favorite.

  20. Robyn says:

    Great job – condolences on the loss of your father Vanessa.

  21. Deborah says:

    Wow Vanessa was awesome. I loved watching her. She was spot on. Julianne as Sandy was also great. I enjoyed watching tonight. Good job entire cast! So much fun!!

  22. Gail Butler says:

    Loved the show. And all the singing and dancing. Vanessa did an excellent job of hitting it like the orginal Rozo in the movie. Great performance by Julianne Hough and her partner. It was also nice to see the first Frenchie playing the waitress too.

  23. It’s so hard to see other people in these iconic roles! Although, many of them are iconic people as well, so that was cool! Really enjoyed Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine. Missed “Bowzer”. Wish the last scene could’ve been done outside. I guess it got rained out!? Overall, it was pretty cool. I think it’ll grow on us, we’re just such fans of the original. Great job guys!!

  24. Aimee says:

    Vanessa was awesome!!! The whole live show was fantastic!!!!!

  25. Drew says:

    That is unbelievable. She did an amazing job. Hats off to her.

  26. Ken Sacks says:

    Great performance Vanessa. My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father Greg. You are in my prayers.

  27. Spendley says:

    I thought it was good, but nothing out shines the original. I admire Vanessa for being able to do the show and do it well. Praying for her and her family.

  28. J.Norman says:

    They boosted up Frenchy’s role a bit. She did a good job

  29. congrats & sympathies to Vanessa Hudgens
    you rocked & are a rock
    & R.I.P Mr. Greg Hudgens

  30. Christina says:

    The show was so well done!! Way to go everyone. A great tribute.

  31. lariet50 says:

    I didn’t watch it, because I had no interest in it, but bless her heart – such a shame about the loss of her father. I couldn’t have gone out and performed live hours after such a tragedy, so more power to her for being able to pull it off.

  32. Mary says:

    I was thoroughly entertained by the entire show. Vanessa, I am so sorry for your loss, but you just lived up to “the show must go on.” I know your daddy is proud of you.

  33. Betsy tenbosch says:

    Stellar performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. A++

  34. Iris Wodon says:

    So sorry about Vanessa’s dad. In spite of that, she did a wonderful job as Rizzo. I don’t know how she was able to do what she did, but she deserves an award for this role.

  35. Erik says:

    She’s not Stockard Channing, but pretty good.

  36. Erik says:

    no (instead of not)

  37. TinLV says:

    VH stole the show. She was really good and you would never know what she was going through having just lost her dad. Julianne Hough was well cast as Sandy.. maybe a little too well cast. She sang well and of course danced great, but really seemed to be channeling ONJ a bit too much and brought nothing new or original to the part. Aaron Tviet seemed miscast as Danny but he can really sing. I really liked Jordan Fisher, he was kind of a cross between Sal Mineo and Fabian. Casting Didi Conn as the waitress was a cute touch. Overall, it was entertaining, and the production values way better than those NBC live plays. Those who keep comparing it to “the original” may not realize it but the original wasn’t the movie, it was a play, live on stage. This was a pleasant mix of the two, but its not fair to compare a live production to the movie, which had the luxury of retakes.

  38. I heard the news from the onlines, so when I watched, I was paying particular attention to the part as the show went on. I was fairly sure it wasn’t going to be an issue, but did wonder if the acting would go up a notch because of it. The role was great for her.

  39. Vanessa Hudgens did INCREDIBLE as Rizzo. She really embodied Stockard Channing; that there were moments you would not be able to tell the difference. I’m so sorry for the loss of her father. What a professional and amazing performance.

  40. Mark says:

    The show was pretty good. They went PC with it. Blacks didn’t go to school or hangout or especially, kiss, a white in 1959. A black with an Italian name was not believeable. Boyz ii Men ethnicized “Beauty School Dropout”. They didn’t sing in that fashion in 1959.

  41. Vanessa did a superb job. That is why critics are giving her rave reviews.