Get ready and be thrilled with more than 80 musical numbers will take us into places. The refreshing comedy is about to represent our inner thoughts through music: “In many ways, it can be healing.”
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist will give us the taste about a Silicon Valley-based coder (Jane Levy) who is in the middle of a love triangle while struggling to overcome her problems but little did she know that suddenly will barge in. But the NBC series did not fail to be musical, playing more than 80 song-and-dance numbers performed by Levy and the cast, which co-starred with Lauren Graham, Skylar Astin, Peter Gallagher and Mary Steenburgen.
“For me, that form of expression is new,” says Levy of singing on the show. “At the beginning, I was scared about not sounding good. And then eventually, I realized what’s most important to me as an artist is to just tell the story authentically.”
The story will begin with an earthquake hits the city while Zoey is getting an MRI, never she thought that it will change her life. She finds herself with the unique power to hear people’s thoughts in the form of musical numbers and she later calls as “heart songs.” The first 12-episode of the first season, the plot continuously develops including a not-so-new love triangle involving Zoey, Max (Astin) which is her best friend, and her apple of the eye at her wor, Simon (John Clarence Stewart), and an unlikely comradeship with-DJ neighbor, Mo (Alex Newell).
“I’m always trying to think of different ways to use her abilities and to surprise the audience with the music,” says the show’s creator, Austin Winsberg. “[Her ability] would help her grow, and it would show her that the world isn’t all black and white — that we do live in shades of gray.”
A wide array of songs will be studied to make the episodes relevant with the music they’re going to play. “When you are using a song for storytelling, it changes the clearance because you’re using it like dialogue,” says music supervisor Jen Ross. “It’s deeper than just a song playing in the background of a restaurant.”
Harvey Mason Jr., the music producer, has to re-invent the tracks that will accurately tell their feelings and thoughts lingering inside “You can really show emotion [through music],” Ross says. “In many ways, it can be healing.”
The production schedule was vigorous and tight at the same time, while working with only seven to eight days to record the songs and learning the dance choreography for the episode. This challenges the casts to give more and explore varying degrees of dance/musical theater experience that will bring extra challenge to choreographer Mandy Moore. “I can work with somebody like Skylar, who has a lot of musical theater and movement experience and get something out of his character that is a bit more dancey,” she says. “But then with somebody like Mary, she has very little dance experience but is such a beautiful mover. It forces me as a choreographer to really see people and appreciate how they move naturally.”
Levy says the most important relationship she established is with her dad (Gallagher). “The love story, to me, is about her and her father,” she says.
But their relationship will face more turmoil, when Zoey finds out that her dad suffers from a rare degenerative brain disease called progressive supranuclear palsy and she has to bid her goodbye.
Levy’s hard working schedule is challenging as she needs to compose her perona straight in every episodes with massive dance numbers and songs to sing. His director said “By the time she got to the end, she was pleasantly exhausted,” he says. “She didn’t have much more left than that last episode, which is exactly where that character needed to be.”
When the cast was able to aced the half day rehearsals “everyone started crying,” says cinematographer Shasta Spahn.
. “A lot of season one is a solo journey, and that’s why I like in the finale seeing her with a community and supported by people who love her,” says the actress. “So maybe in season two, her journey won’t be so solo.” Levy says.
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.