InDepth InterView: Lea Michele Confirms FUNNY GIRL Revival! Plus, Talks New Solo Album LOUDER, GLEE S5, LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN, WICKED & More
Today we are particularly thrilled to present a wide-ranging conversation with one of the most attention-grabbing and notable Broadway/Hollywood crossover stars of the new millennium talking all about her theatre past, Glee present and potentially quite spectacular future - the charismatic and committed Lea Michele. Sparing some precious moments while promoting her new solo album release, LOUDER, Michele comments on not only her studio work and the current season of her FOX hit musical dramedy series Glee but also sheds some light on much more, including sharing first news of the new stage revival of FUNNY GIRL currently in planning stages following the rights being purchased by Glee creator and mastermind Ryan Murphy, set to mirror the Season Five storyline of Glee itself as it presents the thrilling theatrics, unforgettable songs and backstage backstabbing involved with the FUNNY GIRL revival starring Rachel Berry (aka Michele). Additionally, Michele analyzes some of her favorite tracks on LOUDER and offers a glimpse into the creative process in creating some of the album's standout tracks such as "Cue The Rain" and "The Bells". Plus, Michele opens up about her role alongside fellow Broadway heavyweights Megan Hilty and Bernadette Peters in the hotly anticipated new animated movie musical LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN and clues us in on what we can expect from the 3D multimedia extravaganza. Furthermore, Michele previews some upcoming Glee showstoppers-to-be including two songs penned by Stephen Sondheim - "No One Is Alone" from INTO THE WOODS and "Not While I'm Around" from SWEENEY TODD - as well as teases the appearance of her former SPRING AWAKENING co-star and subsequent PITCH PERFECT breakout performer Skylar Astin, while also offering the 411 on the show's big new move to a primary NYC focus. All of that, thoughts on Glee co-star Idina Menzel's FROZEN performance on this week's Academy Awards telecast, opinions on a new LES MISERABLES revival, a look ahead to her upcoming autobiography BRUNETTE AMBITION and much, much more!
More information on Lea Michele's LOUDER is available at the official site here. More information on Glee is available at the official site here. Follow Lea Michele on Twitter here.
Cue The Star
PC: Do you find it to be thrilling or somewhat daunting to represent the modern Broadway superstar to an international audience as you do? Glee is a cultural lynch pin, after all.
LM: [Laughs.] Aww, well... I owe so much to my Broadway background and the Broadway community really structured me and gave me such an incredible education and support system growing up, you know?
PC: It helped make you the star - and actor - you are.
LM: Yeah - I don't think I could do what I am doing now without coming from where I come from. I mean, especially working on a television show like GLEE, it can be quite demanding!
PC: You can say that again!
LM: And, just the stresses in this business in general! So, I think coming from the background that I come from is just the best preparation... I think if anything could have prepared me for this, I think that my Broadway background was the best way.
PC: Are you going to be checking out the new LES MISERABLES revival, having been a star of the show yourself on Broadway once or twice upon a time?
LM: Well, I mean, isn't this like the 9th revival?! [Laughs.]
PC: You famously performed "I Dreamed A Dream" with Idina Menzel on the series before even the movie became a hit, of course.
LM: Well, I think that Glee has done such a great job in general of opening up people to Broadway music. You know, it's funny you mention this, because something so hilarious happened on the set the other day when we were singing "No One Is Alone"...
PC: From INTO THE WOODS.
LM: Of course. And, yeah: so, me, Chris [Colfer] and Darren [Criss] obviously knew every word, and, Chord [Overstreet], who was with us, was just like, "What is this song?!" [Laughs.]
PC: It may seem a bit strange to the non-indoctrinated.
LM: Yeah, I mean - "Witches can be good?" "Giants can be right?" What the f*ck is going on?! [Laughs.] But, to answer your question, I think that Glee has done such a great job of opening up Broadway music to people who may not have ever heard these songs before. So, that's one of the reasons why I am so proud to be on GLEE.
PC: Introducing Stephen Sondheim to a new generation in doing so, no less.
LM: Absolutely! Absolutely. Speaking of Sondheim, besides "No One Is Alone" from INTO THE WOODS coming up, we also have "Not While I'm Around" [from SWEENEY TODD]. Chris is going to be singing some great Broadway stuff, too. [Sighs.] There is such great music coming up on Glee - especially the Broadway stuff.
PC: You will be reprising "Defying Gravity" from WICKED for the 100th episode, as well, will you not?
LM: Yes, I am doing "Defying Gravity" again. And, we also will be doing another Barbra classic coming up, as well! I can't tell you what, though. I'm sorry!
PC: You just paid tribute to Ms. Streisand this week with the incredibly glamorous wink to her iconic Oscar acceptance outfit - you looked so gorgeous.
LM: Aww, thank you, Pat! That was actually my idea...
PC: No way! How did it come about?
LM: Well, they had a lot of really great dress options - as they usually do - and I was like, "We need to create that Barbra look!" And, after that, everyone was a little hesitant, but I really thought we needed to do it in that scene. And, I have to say, I thought it looked really cute - I thought it came out so great!
PC: Is starring in FUNNY GIRL onstage something you actually want to do now that Ryan Murphy has obtained the stage rights?
LM: Yeah, it is. We are definitely talking about it now. We have the rights. And, right now, we are talking to some potential directors - we have someone really amazing in mind. We probably won't have the opportunity to do it for a while, though, because we still have a long time left on GLEE. But, yes, you are right - Ryan does have the rights. And, when the time is right and I have had the chance to get some good rest for a while after Glee and I feel ready to do it then definitely we will do it.
PC: Do you have a specific Nicky Arnstein in mind yet?
LM: [Laughs.] Well, I have a couple of guys...
PC: Hugh Jackman, perhaps?
LM: [Laughs.] Ryan and I have been talking about a couple of people that we think would be good, but, of course, we can't say yet.
PC: Another career goal just achieved was your new solo album finally coming to fruition - and currently #1 on iTunes! Are you overjoyed?!
LM: I know! I know. I can't believe it.
PC: The deluxe edition is even better - both additional songs are so strong, so if you don't mind I was curious if we could talk about those since everyone else will be asking about the others.
LM: [Big Laugh.] Of course! Of course.
PC: Can you tell me about the impetus behind "The Bells"?
LM: Well, "The Bells" was actually the very first song I recorded for the album - back in 2012. It's really funny because we had really been wanting to make this album for a very long time - since like 2009; but I have been so busy with Glee and everything else - and my record label heard "The Bells" years ago and they just held it for me all this time.
PC: No way! That is highly unusual.
LM: I know! But, they did - Sony/Columbia held it for me; "The Bells". They held it for me for three or four years until I was ready to make the album and actually record it. So, once we decided to make LOUDER, it was the first song that I went to the studio and sang.
PC: An album track I particularly loved was "Cue The Rain". So theatrical, right?
LM: Oh, thank you. Yes, it is.
PC: Is that being eyed as a single?
LM: Well, right now we are debating what the next single should be, actually. I love "Cue The Rain", too, though - I actually co-wrote that song, so it's very special to me.
PC: Was there a particular moment that inspired it for you?
LM: Yeah, there was. The song is a story of something that happened to me in my life and while I was driving home one night this certain thing happened and it started raining right then and that is how I got the inspiration to write "Cue The Rain".
PC: Would you like to continue songwriting in the future, perhaps even for other artists?
LM: Definitely! As you probably know, I have a book coming out in May [BRUNETTE AMBITION], so writing has definitely been something that I have been feeling very strong and passionate about. And, I just hope that for my next record I can contribute to writing even more of the songs.
PC: And a Broadway album would be adored by your fans, too!
LM: [Big Laugh.]
PC: LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN looks so visually stunning - plus, it's a musical with not only you, but Megan Hilty and Bernadette Peters! Did you record your material a while ago given the demands of such a hi-tech film like it is?
LM: Yeah, I did. The animation process is so crazy! You know, you go and record your voice work and then the movie doesn't come out until years later because it takes such a long time to basically draw and create all the animation and everything. So, we did it such a long time ago but it is finally coming out now, in May.
PC: Have you seen the film yet, in any form?
LM: Yes, I did. I actually saw it for the first time the other night - I had seen it along the way, but not in its completed form. You know, all the colors and effects and everything are finally done now, so that's what I got to see.
PC: Were you pleased with it?
LM: Oh, my God! It's so great! Megan is so, so good - her voice is incredible! And, of course, Bernadette Peters... [Sighs.]... as always, is amazing! Just amazing. But, I got to sing with Megan in it and that was so awesome - she is so incredibly talented.
PC: SMASH meets Glee at last!
LM: [Laughs.] Hugh Dancy and Oliver Platt and Martin Short are in it, too - the cast is so, so great. I am really, really proud of it and how it all turned out. I think that it is such a good movie, especially for the younger audience who it was sort of designed for. I think that bringing a new WIZARD OF OZ to kids is so nice and it makes me so happy to be doing it.
PC: Another two worlds will be merging when your SPRING AWAKENING co-star Skylar Astin - of PITCH PERFECT fame - shows up on Glee later this year.
LM: Yeah, you're right! He's coming on the show this season. Unfortunately, I don't have any scenes with him, though - which made me so sad! But, I mean, he was really made for Glee - literally. And, he's been so busy working on so many different projects, but we finally got lucky and got him to come on for a couple of episodes later this season. It's something to watch out for.
PC: Is a Jesse St. James reunion ever going to occur - particularly given he is played by your real-life BFF, Jonathan Groff?
LM: Well, as you know, he is quite busy right now...
PC: Of course - to say the very least!
LM: His movie just won the Oscar last night [FROZEN] and his TV show [LOOKING] just got renewed for a second season, so...
PC: He's spread a little thin already!
LM: [Laughs.] He is! So, I think that maybe I will go make an appearance on LOOKING before he comes back on Glee at this rate.
PC: Ryan Murphy also has a new HBO series, OPEN, so it seems you will be ending up on HBO sometime soon one way or another, doesn't it?
LM: [Big Laugh.] And that's great! Definitely.
PC: Speaking of FROZEN and your many noted co-stars, did you cheer on Idina Menzel last night on the Academy Awards?
LM: Umm, yes! Oh, my gosh, I was so proud of her! And, I am so happy that the song won. She is so talented and I just think that she deserves all of this success.
PC: You two workshopped a Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical long before even GLEE, did you not?
LM: Yes, that's right! You really know your stuff. But, yeah - I've known Idina for a really, really long time and she is such a good friend of mine. It's just been so nice to be there for each other over all these years. Kristin [Chenoweth] is also the same way - as you know, she is going to be on our 100th episode of GLEE, as well, and she is just one of my dearest, dearest friends, too. I am so lucky to have such generous support from the ladies of the Broadway community.
PC: And someday you perhaps will play Elphaba in WICKED onscreen. Is that a dream of yours?
LM: I will gladly - gladly - paint my body green, Pat! [Laughs.]
PC: Were your hilarious reaction shots during Santana's FUNNY GIRL audition on Glee at all inspired by VALLEY OF THE DOLLS? You were conjuring Neely O'Hara before our very eyes!
LM: [Laughs.] Well, I am ashamed to admit that I have never actually seen the movie, so I can't say that I specifically was, but I can say that that scene was so fun to shoot. And, what I can also tell you is that there will be some more great stuff coming up on Glee that I think everyone will really love.
PC: Lastly, let's hope we hear you say "BroadwayWorld" on Glee a few more times coming up, too!
LM: I know! I know! Isn't that hilarious?!
PC: Thank you so much for this today, Lea - you are divine.
LM: Of course! Thank you so much, Pat! This was so much fun. Bye bye.