Pictured above: Glee 1.06 The Rhodes Not Taken – The Glee Club performs “Somebody to Love”. Pictured back row L-R: Chris Colfer, Jenna Ushkowitz, Heather Morris, Cory Monteith, Harry Shum Jr, Lea Michele and Dianna Agron. Front row L-R: Dijon Talton, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling and Amber Riley © Fox
The announcement that Glee had been picked up for a second season thrilled the fans of the series, now known as Gleeks. Critically acclaimed, the show has won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy, and the Golden Globe for Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy.
And the search is on for new talent. Amateurs and professionals between the ages of 16-26 are encouraged to submit auditions tapes online, a process that will be televised with the winners being introduced as the new cast members on the first episode of season two.
On a set visit to Glee on January 18th, I spoke with the cast about the show, the fans, the music, the friendly competition and the upcoming auditions for the new cast members. Your hear from Cory Monteith, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Amber Riley and Matthew Morrison.
What have the fans been like for the show?
Jenna Ushkowitz: Our fans have been so dedicated, it’s such a following and I feel like they just become almost obsessed in a positive way, but they really are just hardcore fans and we appreciate it.
Kevin McHale: I even think the cooler thing is that it’s not just little teen kids and girls, it’s everybody.
Lea Michele: Like when we went on the tour. We went out into the U.S. and per city we had 300 people lined up or more: we had 2000 in Australia in one location. And they ranged from babies to grandparents, to parents, teenagers, college students. So that really showed our range of fans.
Kevin McHale: A lot of people say, ‘I’m sure I’m your oldest fan;’ we’re like, ‘No.’
Do you feel like you’re ambassadors for the songs that you are introducing to a new generation?
Lea Michele: Don’t Rain on my Parade was on the top ten of ITunes. When did Barbra Streisand do that song in Hello Dolly? 1969? That was awesome.
I think it’s really great to do a range of songs and bring a new sense to them, or honor the originals.
Matthew Morrison: Also, for the older generation who watch the show, we’re introducing them to songs that they have never heard before, like rap songs and stuff like that.
So that has been kind of cool too, it works the other way.
Cory Monteith: I was talking to somebody and they said that their mom’s favorite song was Bust a Move!
When there are so many of you who bring so much talent to this, is there a healthy competition?
Jenna Ushkowitz: Sure, I wouldn’t say competition, I would say they push us and challenge us. It’s a positive thing, we support each other and love each other so much and we are so dynamic and different in every single way that I don’t think we could compete against each other.
Amber Riley: If you see one person who’s getting better in dance, we all have to look good when we are doing these performance, so of course you’re looking to the person on your right and left and you want to be up to par with what they’re doing because you see us as a whole, it’s not just one person.
Kevin McHale: We’re like little kids in a candy store getting to do all of these songs. Matt’s rapping was a cool thing, so we get to do everything. We open the script and see the list of songs, the amount of them and the different types, but it’s how they are used in the scenes that make them so special each time.
Amber Riley: We’ve just learned not to expect anything when we open that script. We don’t expect anything we just open it and dive into it like we’re reading a new book for the first time. It’s more exciting that way.
Can you talk about going from a struggling young actor to suddenly this level of success?
Dianna Agron: Almost an entire year went by without me working before this job. Then Glee happened, and fortunately for me I was cast within a week. We were sitting last night at the Golden Globe Awards and we all kept saying, ‘I can’t believe we’re here.’
Are you nervous about the new kids that will be joining the cast next year?
Lea Michele: It will be wonderful. From what I’ve heard, the idea of bringing new kids on the show is really amazing. It gives everyone an opportunity and I think we’re a family and new blood, and as Amber said, everyone inspires everyone and you grow from the person next to you, so I think it will be awesome.
Amber Riley: We started off as five and there are twelve of us now, it’s not really new to us.
Lea Michele: That’s what family does, it grows.
Kevin McHale: The first week of rehearsal there were four of us and then we met Lea and were like, ‘How’s she going to be?’ And then we met Cory, and we were like, ‘How’s he going to be?’ With each new person we trust Ryan (Murphy, the show’s creator).
Will Scheuster has tremendous chemistry as playing mentor to these kids. When the camera stops rolling are you still a mentor to the group?
Matthew Morrison: I don’t know, ask them, am I?
Jenna Ushkowitz: He’s a great friend and so talented and we’re just happy to be able to work all together. I think we’re a team, he’s our fearless leader but we do work together.
Lea Michele: We call Matt, ‘triple threat.’
Cory Monteith: Lea and Matt have been brilliant examples to me in a way of being triple threat performers, as I have not had that kind of experience on a show with learning how to sing and dance.