I didn’t like High School Musical, which is strange, considering my otherwise obsessive love of everything musical theater.
Don’t get me wrong. I was excited when Disney announced the movie musical because I am all about reviving the genre. I watched High School Musical. And I cried myself to sleep because I knew that musicals would never be the same… in a very bad way.
So when FOX announced their newest television show based on an Ohio high school glee club, I cringed. Glee looked just as saccharine sweet and ridiculously annoying as that Disney abomination mentioned above. I really didn’t think I could handle musical theater taking another blow from a program aimed directly at preteens. But as I watched the pilot episode of Glee, my opinion immediately changed.
Will Schuester is William McKinley High School’s passionate Spanish teacher turned glee club director. Schuester was part of a nationally acclaimed glee club in high school and, in the midst of ongoing marital problems, decides to become the new sponsor of the WMHS glee club. He begins recruiting new members and revamping the repertoire to be more modern.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy is no stranger to high school dramedies. Murphy’s short-lived WB show Popular chronicled the lives of the students at Jacqueline Kennedy High School. Although it was canceled from the line-up in 2000, Popular has developed a cult following and Glee is reminiscent of the biting wit and sharp dialogue of Popular that resonated so deeply with teenage and adult audiences both.
The only problem with Glee’s plot is that it does echo slightly just about every other romantic dramedy ever produced. How many times can we watch the football player turn into the star of the glee club and fall for the quirky unpopular girl who takes everything way too seriously? Regardless of this corny plot point, I have faith that Ryan Murphy will twist it into something no one saw coming. That’s what he did with Popular and I don’t think Murphy will be okay with any more High School Musical comparisons.
I very much enjoyed the cast of the show, but Lea Michele bothered me just a bit. Michele comes to Glee straight from Broadway, and therein lies the problem. When performing on stage, an actor must over-exaggerate his or her movements, facial expressions, and dialogue. Michele’s performance is not bad, it’s just very Broadway and not Hollywood. However, with time, I believe her performance will improve. Regardless of her consistent overacting, Michele’s vocals are incredible.
My favorite moment from the pilot includes a show choir version of Journey’s hit “Don’t Stop Believing.” The use of popular music is part of what attracts audiences to the show and after hearing the cast’s rendition of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” from episode two, I am personally planning on sticking around for the rest of the season.
All in all, Glee is a delightful change from regular Wednesday night programming. Ryan Murphy has created something so deliciously different, audiences, even those with little or no interest in musical theater, will scream for more.
And one thing’s for sure, you’ll never think of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” the same way again.