Some “Extra” Thoughts On Glee Live

Photo Credit: OK Magazine

The end of last week brought about a slew of headlines concerning FOX’s Glee; Ryan Murphy confirmed that four of the show’s central characters would graduate from the fictional McKinley High School at the end of next season, the show finally hired a writing staff, and the vast majority of Glee‘s stars traveled to New Jersey for the filming of Glee Live! 3D! Like the cast, I too descended upon the IZOD Center for the filming, having been offered the chance to serve as an extra on the concert film.

Filming took place all day Thursday and Friday, of which I was only there for the latter. Still, that afforded me the chance to see a number of the interstitials and musical numbers filmed. And, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the process, as well as the actual concert.

As is the case with any set, there was a lot of stop and start to the filming. There were long stretches of time where cast members found themselves sitting around on stage waiting for the floor manager to call action. Many of the people in attendance were irritated by these long pauses in filming, but to me they were often the most entertaining aspect of the experience. It was neat to see the cast interact with one another in a non-formal setting. For example, there was an exchange between Heather Morris and Cory Monteith about 5 Hour Energy Shots that proved to be funnier than the vast majority of Glee‘s writing. Morris, in general, proved to be the most entertaining part of the cast, if for no other reason because she simply can’t sit still. Early on Friday morning, while waiting to lens an interstitial with Darren Criss and Chris Colfer, she burst into a workout routine that included jumping-jacks, pushups and yoga poses. It was strange to watch, but also hysterical… and sexy.

The pauses in filming also afforded Chord Overstreet and Kevin McHale the opportunity to hold wheelchair races with one another and Dianna Agron the time to speak with various crew members. Speaking of Dianna, she is even more perfect in person. Unfortunately, the numerous pauses ended up backfiring, and director Kevin Tancharoen was unable to film 2 of the musical numbers he had slated for the afternoon.

After a three hour break, and a performance from the Legion of the Extraordinary Dancers that featured some of So You Think You Can Dance‘s most famous alums (Twitch, Legacy and Will Wingfield), the actual concert began. Below are some musings on the show in bullet point format.

  • The show opened with a performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” that was staged very similar to the cast’s X-Factor performance, but featured solos from only Cory and Lea. Why? I’m not sure.
  • I’ve never been a fan of “I’m A Slave 4 U” but dam if Heather Morris wasn’t oozing sexiness during her performance of the song.
  • “Fat Bottomed Girls” was far and away my favorite part of the show. It allowed Cory, Mark and Chord to show off their musicality and gave Harry a chance to really dance.
  • Midway through the show, Darren Criss and his band of anonymous Warblers tackle three of the songs off their album. Considering Dianna and Chord had to share their one solo number and Heather only got one, this felt a bit gratuitous to me.
  • “Duets” was arguably this season’s best episode, so I enjoyed seeing “Lucky” and “River Deep, Mountain High” back to back. It was also nice to see Naya Rivera slay “Valerie” live, as that is the song from Season 2 I’ve played most often.
  • The show closes with “Loser Like Me,” which I admittedly liked less than “Get It Right,” the other original song from 2X16. Still, it is an effective culmination for the live show.
  • Before beginning their typical encore performances, the cast was forced to re-shoot two songs from earlier in the show. This didn’t go over well with the crowd, a sizable amount of whom began leaving.
  • While NJ concert-goers were lucky enough to see Gwyneth Paltrow do her take on “Forget You,” we did not get to see Colfer, Morris and Jenna Ushkowitz take on “Single Ladies”

Overall, I have to say I quite enjoyed the show, even if I question the division of labor. Whoever was responsible for the setlist, made no effort to spread the wealth. As aforementioned, neither Dianna nor Chord are given much to do yet both have more of a role than Ashley Fink, who has literally one line of dialogue and only takes part in a few of the group numbers. Of the numerous songs omitted from the live show, I was most upset that they didn’t include “Thriller (Heads Will Roll)” and “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty.” I would have also liked to see them include “Toxic,” but I realize that would have required rearranging without Matthew Morrison on hand. One final note about the tour: During one of the interstitials, Colfer’s Kurt asks Criss’ Blaine if he’ll leave Dalton Academy and join the New Directions. I can’t help but wonder if this is supposed to be in continuity. It seems like the type of thing Ryan Murphy would do, but I’m not sure.

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