The live show starts with the finalists doing a choreographed version of the opening credits, with the Dannys and Sandys dueling. I have a sinking feeling I will be so tired of all this musical's songs by the time these two hours are over. But it's pretty cute.

Hosts Billy Bush and Denise Van Outen are out to introduce the panel, which tonight includes Olivia Newton John.


Finally, we are meeting our finalists, since they didn't get much, if any screen time during the first several weeks. Derek Keeling, 26, from Charleston, W.Va., is first. He calls himself a boy next door. He was a track star in high school, but got injured and turned to musical theater instead.

Austin Miller, the pro from Alvin, Texas, who always looks like he is wearing eyeliner. He wants this show, he says.

They have to sing -- Derek starts with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." He does a good job, but nothing really remarkable. Austin follows with "Money, Money." He works his hips, his hair, his upper range, the stage and the audience. He might want have backed off the higher range, but it was easy to see he's experienced. Olivia says she is very impressed. Jim says he could see both of them as Danny. Kathleen says they delivered. David Ian (who I assumed was going to be the Simon Cowell) was over the top excited about both performances.

Allie Schultz is from Nashville and just out of high school. She says she's young, but she's ready. Kate Rockwell says she was pretty uncool in high school but has gotten over it and that she is competitive. Allie sings "I Love Rock N Roll." She is dressed very bizarrely, but she handles the song well. Also, I never would have guessed she was only 19. Kate sings "All By Myself." Her song features a glory note we haven't seen in the other three songs thus far, which she sells. Kathleen says she saw the sweet and sexy sides to both girls and (jinx) that she can't believe Allie is only 19. She also says Kate has one of if not the best voice there, but next week she would like to see her more loose and girly. Olivia loves Allie's confidence and boots and was impressed by Kate's voice. David says Allie showed she isn't just the baby of the competition and adds that Kate is the best singer. Jim says Allie seems exactly like Sandy as he first envisioned her, and Kate blew his socks off.

Throwing it to the commercial, Billy Bush says the final 12 are about to become the final 14. The silhouette looks like Matt the jock. Not sure about the girl.

Matt Nolan is the Danny and Ashley Anderson is the Sandy. So finally, we have people who actually got some screen time -- and will probably get votes no matter what as a result. Hopefully Matt's worked on his voice and Ashley on her nerves. They were both pretty likable otherwise.

Matt is from New York and is a jock but says nothing prepared him for Grease Academy and that he is glad to be back. Ashley says people can call her a crybaby, but she doesn't care, and she's glad for the chance to show she's a fighter. David Ian says they are back because they were great, but very green and deserved a second chance. Matt sings "Pretty Woman." He does seem more comfortable on stage, but he also seems unused to harmonizing -- sounds a little weird with background voices, and he biffed one note. Ashley sings "Still the One." She seems pretty nervous still -- and she's not exactly on key, but she ends strong. Kathleen says they both look great but that it was a little tentative from both and for next week to go for broke. David says he his the 50s is in Matt's DNA but he really needs to work on his vocals. He said Ashley looks like a dream but the vocals were a nightmare (ah, there's a Cowell-esque line), that her pitch was questionable and all over the place. Jim says they've clearly got nerves, but they were good. Olivia says their vocals will get better.

Jason Celaya is of the Mormon faith and says because of that, he has sung a lot since childhood. He was also in the production of Altar Boyz, which was in Baltimore a couple of months ago. I will have to see if he was part of the cast that was here. He says his dance ability is his strength. Max Crumm moved to L.A. to become a perform, but his main job is gym receptionist. He says he gets fired because he is a slacker. He says his personality separates him from the rest of the Dannys.

Jason will be singing "Faith." His moves work, though they are a little self-conscious at times. His voice? I think everyone is getting used to singing on live TV. Max will sing "Summer of 69." He seems totally comfortable on stage, and his voice is great, with or without the backup singers. Jim says he can Danny in both guys. Kathleen says Jason needs to tone down the contemporary vibe and think 1959 and tells Max he's one of the best actors there. David says there is an innate pop performer in Jason and that Max acts what he sees and he believes every word he says. Olivia says they are both great and that Max has a great personality.

Laura Osnes left the role of Sandy in Minnesota. She just got engaged and had to leave her fiance behind, too. Kathleen Monteleone is 23 and from Oregon but lives in NYC with her husband. She leads a worship band at a church in New York.

Laura sings "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." I don't get the shorts and half-boots thing, but it's not a fashion show. Her voice is spot-on. Kathleen sings "Suddenly I See," continuing KT Tunstall's reign as a go-to songwriter for reality TV singing competitions. She has a very sweet voice, that's the best way I can describe it. Olivia says Kathleen has great presence on stage and that she loved Laura's voice. David says Laura is sweet and nice and he's not sure that would cut it, that some of the people they've auditioned for the other parts this week would eat her for breakfast. Kathleen said it was a fantastic performance. Judge Kathleen tells Laura to turn up the dynamic energy and tells contestant Kathleen that she is so in the moment and connected to everything she says. Jim says they are both great.

Kevin Green is from Greece, New York. He hangs with his buds in the city and loves his grandpa. Chad Doreck is 27 and is from Long Beach, Calif. He's a soccer coach and is in a band when he isn't performing.

Kevin sings "Walking in Memphis." He works the camera and does a pretty decent job singing. Chad sings "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." He gives a nice performance, but it's definitely simple song in terms of the lyrics and range, but he gives it a lot of extra energy at the end. Jim says Kevin has been growing on him, still maybe a little tentative, and Chad was "top of the mountain." Olivia says both are charming and likable. David says Kevin is like a singing James Dean and that he needs to not let cool become low energy and that Chad is great and commercial and would sell lots of tickets, "I love you." Kathleen says Kevin should dial up the confidence and that Chad was energetic.

Juliana Hansen is 23 from L.A. and thinks she has a hidden rock n roll girl inside.  She says she and her mom shared an apartment with a lot of other people after her folks divorced and that remembering that experience fuels her ambition. Ashley Spencer is 21 and has been dancing since she was 7 and spent every last cent to get to L.A. for the auditions.


Juliana sings "The First Cut is the Deepest." For all the talk about her being the "rock chick," she seems very sweet and earnest in her performance. Ashley sings "It's in His Kiss." She also has a very sweet voice, maybe a tad weaker than Juliana's. But let's see what the judges say. Jim compares them to Betty and Veronica and says they would both be great. Kathleen says Juliana commands the stage but should have more fun next week and that Ashley is open on stage. David says Juliana didn't get the sexy, sultry side or her heart through the song, and that Ashley looks the part but needs to show more emotional range. Olivia loves them both, too.


Then there's one last performance from the final 14. They're singing "We'll always be together ..." (the chorus to "We Go Together") even though clearly, they won't, since two people are going home every week until the final two. The panel's favorite Danny and Sandy of the night are: David Ian says Derek and Ashley Spencer. Kathleen says Austin and Allie. Jim picks Chad and Kate. Olivia says she will leave it to America to decide because everyone is great. ("Great" has been a recurring theme all evening. Almost more than I said "sweet.")

In two weeks (gotta watch the Super Bowl, after all), Andrew Lloyd-Weber will be the guest judge and we will find out the first eliminations.