After the long journey to its 100th episode, the members of the “Glee” family can look back on five years’ worth of memories. Variety asked some of the cast and crew to reflect on their experiences on the show. Here are some of their favorite behind-the-scenes moments.
Casting director Robert Ulrich vividly remembers casting Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones: “We were having a really hard time casting that role. Amber sang a simple little song, and I said, ‘Can you sing, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls?” ’ She sang three lines, and I knew we had it. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my entire career. It was just electric.”
At the end of the pilot, coach Sue Sylvester watches the glee club perform “Don’t Stop Believin’” with disgust, but actress Jane Lynch felt something completely different: “They were just wearing red T-shirts with minimal choreography. For the actors, being together for first time doing a song, and for that group of characters, without a leader and creating that for themselves, I was really moved by it.”
Guest stars can make a real impression on the cast. Kevin McHale remembers Kristin Chenoweth filming “Maybe This Time” for the show’s fifth episode back in 2009: “I’m not a musical theater guy at all. I didn’t really know who Kristin Chenoweth was.
I remember from the first take, every single time she did it, we all freaked out. I got goose bumps. I told her that a couple of weeks ago. I was like, ‘This is embarrassing, but I didn’t know what ‘Maybe This Time’ was. When you sang it, it was the first time I heard it, and I have never forgotten it.’”
One performance that got to Harry Shum Jr.: “We were on the first tour (in 2010). Ryan (Murphy) brought a DVD of the (season one finale) when Vocal Adrenaline did ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ It was this amazing parallel between this dance and this song, and Quinn (Dianna Agron) giving birth (in the episode). It touched me. Not that I’ve ever had a baby, but the beauty of how it was written and the choreography with the music….something stirred in me, and I started crying. I was watching with the whole cast, and while they were touched, they looked at me like, ‘Whoa, what is wrong with Harry?’ ”
Brooke Lipton remembers the unique challenge of choreographing for a rotating room. In 2013, cast members Matthew Morrison and Jayma Mays performed “You’re All the World to Me” from “Royal Wedding”: “(Producer) Zach Woodlee and I were like, what are we looking at? It was just the blank canvas of making that room really move and rotating the camera. When Lionel Richie did that for ‘Dancing on the Ceiling,’ they had weeks to practice it. We had a five-hour rehearsal and then shot it.”