An Interview with ‘Grease: Live’ Actress Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer

(Image Credit: Bobby Quillard)

(Image Credit: Bobby Quillard)

The Daily Quirk caught up with Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer who played Cha Cha in Grease: Live Jan. 31 on FOX.   We got her first reaction right after the show and she spills on what it was like to perform with that many celebs for one night only — on live TV!

The Daily Quirk: Congratulations on a stunning performance on Grease: Live last night.  Can you tell us how you’re feeling today?

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: Thank you so much!  It was such an exhilarating experience.  For about five weeks, I was immersed with this wonderful group of people and the world of Grease, and I miss everybody already!

TDQ: You played Cha Cha; how did the role come about?

YGN: I actually had auditioned back in February for the role of Patty Simcox, but they kept bringing me back for Frenchy.  At the last minute, they asked if I could come in to audition for Cha Cha, and then, the rest was history.

TDQ: It’s theatre and it’s live TV; how do you rehearse for something like that?

YGN: The principals rehearsed for a month before everyone else joined. Then, it was about five weeks of rehearsing, camera angles, and all kinds of technical stuff. It’s interesting how the rehearsal process was similar to that of a regular Broadway show, except instead of doing the show for months or years, we did it for one night!

TDQ: What was interesting or unique about performing a musical live for television?

YGN: First of all, it was a highly ambitious undertaking.  The movie was shot live so everything was happening in real time.  There were no second or third takes, and inevitably, there were all kinds of factors that you couldn’t control.  For example, the day of the show, we had a torrential downpour, and not long before show time we had to re-stage a possible alternate opening number, just in case.  Something that we were able to do in Grease: Live, which hadn’t been utilized in any other recent movie musicals, was the usage of a live studio audience.  That was really cool and made us all feel like we were really doing theatre, so the energy was very electric.

TDQ: There seemed to be A LOT of moving parts: a live audience, massive stage transitions, cameras everywhere. Can you give us any behind-the-scenes details on how everything came together?

YGN: The bulk of the last few weeks of rehearsals were basically tech weeks, where they were figuring out camera angles and edits, etc.  I think one of the coolest things they were able to achieve was the car race scene at the end of the film.  Using overhead projectors, strategically placed cameras, lights, dry ice, and some good old-fashioned camera shaking, they were able to masterfully create a very realistic car race.

TDQOkay, we need to know about the Hand Jive!  Choreography, Rhythm, and Joe Jonas?!  Can you tell us what preparing for and filming that scene was like?

YGN: Zack Woodlee, our super talented choreographer, created a new version of Hand Jive while still paying homage to the original.   We rehearsed the entire show at Center Staging in Burbank for a couple of weeks, and then we moved to Warner Bros. where we got to see everything make sense and come to life on set.

It was really fun having Joe Jonas and his band DNCE with us.  One of the songs they performed was a version of their new single Cake By The Ocean in the musical style of the show, and it was great!  Also, we had Mario Lopez playing Vince Fontaine which was pretty awesome.

TDQYou had a great line, “I’m with whoever knows how to dance”, and nailed Cha Cha’s persona and dance moves.  What was it like preparing for the role?

YGN: Yeah, that’s a fun line, and thank you.  Cha Cha is a tough cookie.  She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it.  Her confidence is impressive and was actually one of the initial challenges for me when I first started working on the role.  I am so grateful I got to play Cha Cha and learn from her, because in the process, I was able to tap into my own confidence and what it meant to me.

TDQ: The makeup, hair, costumes were all marvelous.  Can you tell us about that?

YGN: It is always such a treat to work with the best in the industry, and that is exactly what happened here.  The hair and makeup team were incredible.  Dean Banowetz did my Cha Cha hair, and I loved it!  Tony Award winner William Ivey Long was our Costume Designer, and we were so lucky to have him.  He is a very special talent, and I was awestruck watching him work.   

TDQ: What were your favorite parts or scenes?

YGN: I loved the energy of everyone dancing together in Hand Jive, and having Boyz II Men be the Teen Angel was pretty magical, as well.

TDQ: Grease: Live was filled with Broadway stars, pop culture stars, veterans from the original movie cast, and topped off with some awesome musicians.  Who were you most excited to work with or learn from?

YGN: Everyone!  I was so thrilled to be in such good company and be so happy, because everyone was just amazing.  Tommy Kail, our director and fearless leader, has an incredible knack for bringing really talented, humble people together who are generally beautiful human beings. 

TDQ: Would you do something like this again?

YGN: Absolutely.

TDQ: What’s next for you?

YGN: My single Classy under my artist project, Ava Gold, was just featured on ESPN and is now on iTunes.  I’m going to be in the studio finishing up my EP, and I have a new music video coming out next month for one of my songs!  I also have some upcoming shows in Los Angeles and a couple really exciting projects that I can’t talk about quite yet, but I’ll be posting updates on my social media, so I will definitely keep you posted!

TDQ: At The Daily Quirk we like to end our interviews with a rapid fire round of Quirky Questions, here we go!

Favorite Binge Watching TV Show: Jane The Virgin

Celebrity Crush when you were a kid:  Leonardo DiCaprio

Favorite Junk Food:  Chocolate Chip Cookies

Current Obsession:  Taking pictures

Song you can’t get out of your head:  Love Yourself

If you had another dream job it would be:  An Inventor

Favorite Location or Destination:  The beach is my happy place

Hidden Talent:  I have this crazy ninja skill where I can catch objects before they fall without even looking.  Not to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty cool.  Toot Toot.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies & Cream (with extra cookies)

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