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Glee – Behind the Scenes

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Glee 1.18 - Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr
Glee 1.18 "Laryngitis" - New Direcctions perform; Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Heather Morris and Harry Shum Jr © 2010 Fox

Ever wondered how the mega-popular TV series Glee manages to ‘put on a show’ every week? Filmreviewonline spoke with Adam Anders, who compiles and arranges all the music,Zach Woodlee, who does the choreography and Lou Eyrich, who handles all the costumes for the kids of the Glee Club at William McKinley High School.

Can you talk a little about how long you have with each episode to do your jobs? Do they come to you and say, ‘We need this kind of music for the show?’

Glee - Music Producer Adam Anders
Music Producer Adam Anders speaks with television critics © Fox

Adam Anders: I think this is the most civil you will ever see us because we are always fighting for time. We never have enough time, of course. But you gotta make it work

What is your process?

Lou Eyrich: Every episode is eight days. And we get a script three, four days into it, so we basically have four days of prep and then start shooting, and then catch up a little bit in the next few days.

Adam Anders: I’m an episode ahead of them usually. When they’re shooting the music has to be done.

And the choreography?

Zach Woodlee: It’s tight on time, definitely. We usually get per number a max of eight hours, and we sing and dance.

Adam Anders: I usually get, for vocals, an hour a song per person.

For Zach, have you discovered since the show began that there are certain types of moves that are much easier for the main cast to learn? Have you started choreographing accordingly, thinking this is what they can learn in this amount of time?

Glee - Co-Producer and Choreographer Zach Woodlee
Co-Producer and Choreographer Zach Woodlee speaks with television critics © Fox

Zach Woodlee: Yes. It depends. I think in the beginning it was definitely trying to get them to work as a unit, just trying to make them look as one. Sometimes I joke that I’m the real Will Schuester, because I always tell them, ‘We gotta get ready for nationals.’ So it’s always making sure that we can get the work done in a day, but pushing it a little bit further each time.

Adam Anders: And they keep getting better.

When you go to an artist, do they have any hesitancy that your version of their music becomes the definitive version for a whole new generation?

Adam Anders: Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing peaked higher than the original did on the Billboard Top 100, and Steve Perry couldn’t be happier.

Lou, because you have to deal with everything from typical high school wear to those wow costumes, is this a great job?

Lou Eyrich: It’s a dream job. I love my job. It’s incredibly chaotic. Some days you will hear me screaming through the halls, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and I come back loving it again. It’s really almost more of a challenge for me to dress them as regular high school kids than it is to create the fun, crazy costumes, to stay true to the reality, to keep them young-looking, and to make people want to watch the show and be inspired by it.

Adam, do you do the arrangements of the songs?

Glee Season 1- The cast
Glee Season 1- The cast perform © Fox

Adam Anders: Yeah, me and my partner. I have a partner in Sweden, Peer Astrom. We arrange everything and take our cues from Ryan. ‘Do you want this to be a kind of ode to the original? Do you want a reinvention? What are we looking for here?’

We’re trying to serve the story and we go from there. And the mash-ups are really completely new creations which are a lot of fun for me because it’s kind of when I get to be most creative.

My background is songwriting, so it’s kind of an extension of that. But, yeah, my whole thing is to straddle the fence between what Glee is, the inspiration, and not going cheesy. That’s kind of what I’m always trying to do. Because it’s a little bit of camp, but we never go too far. So when I do go too far, that’s the stuff you never hear.

Can you talk about the theme shows, like when you spotlighted the music of Madonna – how does that process start?

Glee - Costume Designer Lou Eyrich
Costume Designer Lou Eyrich speaks with television critics © Fox

Lou Eyrich: We start with a concept meeting with Ryan (Murphy, the show’s creator) and the script, and we go through scene by scene, and we talk about what we can do and what this should look like.

Then Zach will get the music from Adam and then Zach does the choreography. Then I get with Zach and say, ‘Will this work? Will that work? How about this shoe? How about that dress?’ So we try to work together on that.

Adam Anders: I have definitely thrown a lot of stuff out that even Ryan hasn’t heard. I’m like, ‘Wow, that sucks. Let’s start over.’ But I find we’re under the gun so much that instinct takes over, and there’s really no time to second-guess, and more often than not, it’s pretty close to what Ryan’s thinking from the beginning.