Behind the Scenes with Derek Keeling

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A Putnam County native is a contestant on NBC's "Grease: You're the One that I Want." Derek Keeling is from Winfield and he's trying out for the role of "Danny" on the upcoming Broadway musical, "Grease."

The show runs every Sunday night at 7pm and gives viewers a chance to vote for their favorite.

WSAZ is giving you a chance to get a behind the scenes look at the show by hearing from Derek himself. He's going to be sending frequent e-mails, so keep checking back!

March 15, 2007


Keeling is only one of three “Danny” candidates left on NBC reality series Grease

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin today encouraged all West Virginians to call in and vote for Derek Keeling this Sunday – giving him the edge he needs to win the NBC reality series, “Grease, You’re the One that I Want.”

“The audience is the determining factor when it comes to who gets to play Danny Zuko on Broadway,” Gov. Joe Manchin said. “Derek Keeling is giving 110 percent to win this competition, but he cannot win on performance alone. It is not enough to watch and silently support this fellow West Virginian. That is why I am encouraging all West Virginians to pick up the phone or go online to vote for Derek this Sunday.”

“Grease, You’re the One that I Want,” airs 8 p.m. this Sunday. During each performance a toll-free number will appear at the bottom of the television screen. Viewers can call in or go online at to vote. If using the telephone, members of the audience may call in and vote up to 200 times. The polls are open from 9 to 11 p.m. this Sunday.

“We are one big family in West Virginia and we pull together to make things happen,” the governor added. “Derek is doing his part, performing to the best of his ability, but now it is up to the viewers to make the final choice. So West Virginians let’s choose Derek!”

Keeling, 26, is a graduate from Winfield High School, where he was a member of the General Admission Show Choir.

Monday, March 13
He's another step closer to Broadway, and you helped him get there!
Putnam County native Derek Keeling is now in the top three for the part of Danny on "Grease: You're the One That I Want!"

On Sunday, Derek sang "Devil in Disguise.” It was a song that really wowed the crowd, and he wowed the judges too!
We talked to Derek after the show, and he says he's thankful for all of the support from back home!
Click here to read Derek's e-mail blog with WSAZ and to send him your messages.

Wow....I do not really have words that can explain my feelings about last night, but I will try. I was so nervous about last night. I knew that half of the guys were going to be in the bottom two. When I found out that I was safe, I was overwhelmed with joy. My fans have come through for me every week. I have never had to be in a sing-off, and that's a great feeling. I had to calm myself down because I was going to be the first guy to perform. I got myself together and went out there and did my thing. I felt like last night I got back to where I needed to be and was back to the old Derek. Calm, cool, and collected. I am really excited about the finals next week, and I just hope that I have done enough to prove to America that I am the one that they want. God Bless.
-- Derek

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"I felt really good. It was a lot of pressure coming out of – you know I came right out of the elimination round and had to do a quick change right into doing my number, and I was just so overwhelmed with the emotion of how happy I was, that by votes I was in the top two at that point. You know, that’s huge. That’s huge. How far this whole journey has been. That made me feel so good and I was like omigosh don’t think about it and go out there and do your song. I felt really great about it. I felt like I had come back to where I needed to be."


"Really at the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself and happy with what you’re doing. You can’t let other people sway you. Of course you want to please them because they’re the judges and they’re the ones who keep you in the competition. But, you know, you have to go out there and do the best you can. You’re not going to please everyone all the time."


"Show more of those Danny qualities. Come through and do charismatic performances, and really, I feel like next week if we do any work with the girls, really connect with those girls and show you can have chemistry with these people and you would make a really great match for them on Broadway."


"There’s been rumors going around that we’re going to meet John Travolta. But, you never really know, because they keep us in the dark about everything. I’m hoping. That would be an amazing opportunity if I got to meet him."


"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. When I got to see my home package today and see what all was going on in WV, it was so amazing. It really means so much to me. It makes it all worth it. This hardship, long days of rehearsal and mental stress. It‘s just like, I don’t know, I never thought I’d be the guy from WV everyone was rooting for. I just want to thank everybody for keeping me out of the bottom two this whole competition."

Thursday, March 8, 2007
I am so excited to hear about all of the crazy pep rallies happening all over West Virginia. It is what makes this whole experience worth while. I am really excited and nervous about Sunday. Half of the Danny's will be in the bottom 2. The competition is really heating up and I think it’s gonna be great. Keep watching and voting. It’s more important than ever. Only two more shows to vote on. Let's do this WV! God Bless
-- Derek

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
I felt really good about the show on Sunday. Two out of the three judges liked me. I can't worry too much about what one person says. I feel good about what I am doing out there and am prepared to turn it up this Sunday. The fan support has been amazing and it is really what is helping me get through this experience. God Bless.
-- Derek

Monday, February 26, 2007
Well it's down to four guys now and the competition is heating up. Last night was hard because Kevin, one of my really good friends, got sent home. That's a part of the competition...only one person can win. I am very excited going into the all Danny week. I hope I get a great song that I can really show my stuff on. I am so grateful for my amazing fans. I owe it to them big time for getting me this far in the show. Now that things are getting closer to the end I need all of their support more than ever. Let's win this West Virginia! God bless.
-- Derek

Saturday, February 24, 2007
We are now heading into the weekend, and the tension is mounting surrounding the elimination. At this point it could be anyone. I am not ready to go home yet, by any means. This week is an all Sandy show, so I look forward to the next week so that all of the Danny's can show their stuff. I really need a chance to shine again so that I can get right back in the thick of this competition.
-- Derek

Monday, February 19, 2007
Last night was not exactly what I wanted to put out there. But I am not going to make any excuses. I have to take the good with the bad.
I would rather have an off week now than later. I will bounce back and be better than ever...maybe this was what I needed to make me work even harder. I can assure you that I will, and that next week I will be back in full force. No excuses...just results. God bless.

-- Derek

Friday, February 16, 2007
This week is bringing a whole new level of challenges. We are working on a much tighter schedule and now we are getting to work with other contestants on our numbers. We will have to show our chemistry with one of the Sandy's. I am really excited about this opportunity to show that I can connect with another actor. The schedule is much tighter and fatigue is setting in much faster. I feel a lot of pressure heading into this next week because the eliminations are only going to get harder now that the numbers are getting smaller. I felt really good about the last two weeks. I am still very much in shock that Andrew Loyd Webber himself picked me as his favorite Danny. What an honor that he even knows my name. I am beside myself with this whole experience. I am busier than I have ever been , but happier than I have ever been as well.
-- Derek

Friday, February 9, 2007
Its been a crazy week gearing up for Sunday. We have been working long hours and doing tons of press to promote the show. Last week I got to attend my first red carpet event, for the premiere of "Because I said so." It was a very surreal experience, and hopefully its just the begining. Tommorow we will have our first chance to do our numbers on the stage with the band and costumes. Today will be my last chance to iron out the details of my routine. I want it to be the best it can be before tomorrow so that I can just worry about the technical issuses at the dress. Half of my day today will be spent at the gym to build up my endurance for Sunday. I am trying to keep a positive attitude about the elimination and just worry about performing. If I go out on the stage and give everything I have...thats all I can do. I can't stress over the votes. Its in God's hands.
-- Derek

Thursday, February 8, 2007:
Things in LA are going great with the show. You always ask for an opportunity like this...and now that I have it the pressure is on to deliver. I say bring it on. I welcome the challenge. Right now, we are working about 12 hours a day. It's a bit exausting, but I know it will be well worth it. I was very happy with the show last Sunday. I thought everyone brought their "A" game. I will admit that I was nervous before the show...but once I hit the stage, I knew I was where I have always wanted to be, so I just cut loose and had the time of my life. I totally forgot about the cameras and the judges. I was very happy with the comments they gave me, but now it makes me feel the pressure to keep impressing them.
-- Derek


Winfield High School is now selling Derek t-shirts. If you're interested in getting one, e-mail

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