gleek (noun): a person obsessed with the TV show Glee
Golden Globe, People’s Choice and Screen Actor’s Guild winner Glee was first introduced last May on Fox after the American Idol finale and quickly created major buzz. Part soap opera (dual pregnancies and dual love triangles figured big in the first part of the season), part Broadway karaoke, and all parts exuberant fun, Glee along with ABC’s wry Modern Family became the “must watch” of the 2009/2010 TV season. Set at Lima, Ohio’s William McKinley High School, the show tells the story of teen misfits trying to find their place in their school and the world while participating in a show choir named New Directions.
The show is cast with two real Broadway names. Matthew Morrison (Hairspray) plays the good-hearted and sincere glee club teacher Will (himself an alumni of the club) and Lea Michelle (Spring Awakening) is the uber-determined ingenue Rachel. Michelle is a standout. She can sing a Rihanna ballad or a Streisand signature song and make them her own. Other characters include the wheelchair bound Artie (Kevin McHale), sensitive jock Finn (Cory Monteith), Kurt, the gay fashionista (Chris Colfer), head cheerleader and future baby mama Quinn (Dianna Agron), a Mercedes, a powerhouse with major pipes (Amber Riley), and mohawked football star Puck (Mark Salling, who wrote a song extolling his happiness on being on the show that can be seen on YouTube).
Best In Show star Jane Lynch plays Sue Sylvester, ruthless coach of the cheerleading squad “The Cheerios” and the arch nemesis of the glee club. She provides the belly laughs. And although she is not given a lot to do. Heather Morris as the dim-witted cheerleader Brittany also knows her way around delivering a funny line.
Glee has already topped the ITunes charts with its version of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and two soundtracks of music from the show are sitting high on the pop charts. The New Directions have tackled everything from “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret to “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse to Van Halen’s “Jump” to a moving version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
When the show returns April 13th Tony-winner Idina Menzel (Wicked) joins the show for a few episodes. Menzel’s Wicked counterpart Kristen Chenoweth was on the show earlier in the season. (She also recently hosted the Critic’s Choice Awards, proving sadly that a little Kristin [no pun intended] goes a long way) Olivia Newton-John will be getting “physical” on the show as well. There are also rumors that Jennifer Lopez might do a guest spot as a cafeteria worker. Also planned is an all-Madonna music episode, and supposedly Lynch will be doing “Vogue.”
I think one of the reasons for the show’s success is that it attracts both older and younger viewers. Glee introduces classic pop songs to a new generation and contemporary songs to the more mature eyeballs. C’mon, where else can you see a football team do Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” as a warm-up exercise, finger wagging and all? Songs from West Side Story, Guys And Dolls, Les Miserables, Chicago, My Fair Lady and Wicked have also been featured. The show also has the “let’s put on a show” feel of the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movie musicals, but with social problems thrown in.
A DVD with the first 13 episodes (Season One, Vol. 1) was recently released and it’s chock full of extras. The best are the “real” auditions of Michelle and Colfer. Michelle had been in a traffic accident minutes before her audition and, undeterred, arrived to perform with glass in her hair. They both performed the songs from their real auditions as their reel auditions for the club on the show.
Also included are fun facts about the cast, and some cast members made video records with a Flip camera of their trip to New York to promote the show. You get to watch their gleek flag fly as they see posters of themselves plastered all around the Big Apple. Soon you might get to see them up close and personal. A limited concert tour is planned later this year.