Share on Tumblr
Fox’s preview of the first episode of Glee in May became a summer sensation. With months to wait until the show begins its weekly run in September, fans have buzzed about the show and downloaded its songs on iTunes for the past four months. The show about a high school glee club features the cast singing popular rock songs, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” in the first episode. The Glee version of “Don’t Stop Believing” has been a top download on iTunes.

Lea Michele plays Rachel Berry, a super talented and driven singer, if not always socially tactful. A Broadway trained performer, Michele never expected to top the iTunes charts. “Oh my God, it’s really cool,” Michele said. “I don't think we expected to be ready for any of that. We didn’t even know that they were releasing it. And then when we found out that "Don’t Stop Believing", our version, did better than Journey’s original version, it was just fantastic. And there are so many other great songs to come.”

Previews for the upcoming first season show snippets of songs like Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Michele previewed more of the artists she’ll be tackling as the show progresses.
“I do a wide range of everything on the show. We have a Queen song coming up. I actually have a Barbra Streisand song coming up. I can’t give anything away. It’s so great. I’m a huge classic rock fan as well as, my iPod has everything on it, but Journey and Queen and The Rolling Stones are all artists that we’ve done on Glee. For me, that’s the music I was raised on.”

We do know about “Somebody to Love” though. The late Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, is tough to match with his vocal range from high soprano to low alto. “I will say that Adam Anders, our music producer, said that I’m female Freddie Mercury so high five for me,” Michele said, actually giving this reporter a high five. “

Just wait until you hear her sing Babs. “You know what? I was able to try on those shoes. I think I hopefully will make her proud. I idolize her with every cell in my body so to just sing her song was a huge honor.”

GleePart of what makes Glee so universal is that you don’t have to sing to appreciate these social outcasts. Most teenagers were interested in something that wasn’t the popular, cool thing to do like sports or keg parties. Michele can relate to her character’s nearly obsessive passion for performing.

“I mean, kids in high school are tough. High school students are tough and the critiques in high school and the judgments in high school are really hard. What I found the hardest was just sticking to who I was. I wasn’t a partier, I wasn’t a wild kid. I was the one going to work every night and practicing at home, singing. But that’s who I was. It may not have been accepted but I was proud to be me and trust that.”

That pride was tested by bullies, but Michele stood strong. “I think that I was called alien in, like, middle school because I was different. I was just like Rachel, outspoken, determined, driven and other kids didn’t get that. I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was younger but I was proud to be who I was. I pushed myself to do well. I wanted to go to a good college. I got into NYU. I wanted to do well because I knew that that’s what I would remember, and appreciate the most, of my high school experience was being a good student.”

Michele has the last laugh on those bullies. It seems like the high school outcasts are the ones who end up successful. How many of Michele’s classmates are on hit TV shows now?

“I definitely know that hard work pays off and I’ve been working very hard since I was really young, so it paid off. Look, here we are.”

“Really young” to Michele is eight-years-old. She was already on stage, projecting her voice to the back row. “I did my first Broadway show when I was eight years old. I went on an open call in my hometown in support of a friend and I ended up getting it. I’ve been working professionally ever since. Came out to L.A. in July of last year to do a show at the Hollywood Bowl. Found out about Glee, fell in love with it and I busted my butt to get onto this show and here I am.”

Singing isn’t all work for Michele. She sings because she loves to. It’s just nice she gets paid for it too. “I’m always looking for a new song to just sing to at home. I sing "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy, and it is my favorite song to sing. Also I sing a lot of Adele when I’m in my shower at home. I do, I think it’s fun. I was actually just listening at home to Zooey Deschanel’s album. I think she’s fantastic. I think Adele, Duffy, these are real singers that are producing such great music that as a singer I just appreciate. But I listen to everything.”

It’s not always highbrow music either. When Michele hangs out at a Karaoke bar, she’ll rock out to the not so subtle hits. “’Milkshake’ by Kelis is my karaoke song.”

She’s committed music to her body too, with several hidden tattoos. The one visible under her sleeve is two musical notes to a very famous song. “So you know ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ when he goes, ‘Ma ma.’ That’s the two musical notes. I have a bunch.”

With an ensemble cast full of singers, Michele is at home on the set of Glee. “Oh, it’s a party, you guys. We get along like sickeningly well. These guys are my family. They’re my best friends. I live with Dianna Agron and if we’re not on set together, we even started a tradition where after work, we hang out in our trailers extra time afterwards and all hang out. We’ve been known to play "Truth or Dare" on the Paramount lot a couple times, led by me. We have so much fun and we laugh so hard. [Series creator] Ryan Murphy draws a lot of inspiration on stuff he sees us doing. There’s actually us jamming in one scene in an upcoming episode to a Nelly song that was something he actually saw us doing. Mark [Salling] grabbed a guitar and we all started singing and rapping together, and he wrote it into the show.”

Executives on the Paramount lot should beware of rogue Glee cast members. “Let’s just say we’ve ran from security a lot. We’ve been on a couple of the roofs on the set of New York. We’ve done a couple of things. I might have asked Mark to run around in his underwear on the Paramount lot. I won’t say if he did it or not but I did ask him.”

They get Michele back too. “Amber [Riley] played a prank on me once. She put a note in someone’s trailer with a kiss mark saying that it was from me. And I had noticed, I’m like 'who did this, who did this?' And then I looked and I was like 'nobody has big lips except for Amber' and I knew that the kiss mark was from her. And she’s like, ‘Well, I was bored.’ I was like, ‘You can’t do that.’”

Glee has also introduced Michele to other famous musicians, from singer/songwriters to Broadway stars who costar with her in upcoming episodes. “We have Josh Groban, Victor Garber, Deborah Monk, Kristen Chenoweth. We have Eve coming on the show, the rapper. I got to do a duet with Kristen Chenoweth which was a dream. It was from "Cabaret", that’s all I shall say. It’s fantastic.”

This show really does put Michele into a state of glee. “To be able to be on a television show and to get to sing as well, I feel so blessed. It’s like this role I feel like it was tailor made for what I love to do. On our last day on set, I got to sing a Barbra Streisand song that just made me so joyful, I felt it was such an honor. Like I said, to be able to be on television and to be singing as well. It was so great.”

Glee returns to FOX on Wednesday, September 9 at 8 et/pt. / Issue 102 - September 2018
Turnpage Blk

Home | Links | Advertise With Us | Who We Are | Message From The Editor | Privacy & Policy

Connect with Dish Magazine:
Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter


Copyright (c) 2013, Smash Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Smash Media Group, Inc. is prohibited.
Use of Dishmag and Dish Magazine are subject to certain Terms and Conditions.
Please read the Dishmag and Dish Magazine Privacy Statement. We care about you!