Thursday night, “Grey’s Anatomy” airs its much hyped musical episode, “The Music Event.” After being critically injured in a car accident, Callie (Sara Ramirez) hallucinates that she and the rest of the cast are singing songs that have appeared on the show’s soundtrack. For Chyler Leigh, who plays Lexie, it was both a frightening and exciting opportunity. The actress reveals why she originally thought the episode was a joke, which cast members are undercover rock stars and which songs will bring down the house.
What was your first thought when you learned “Grey’s Anatomy” was doing a musical?
I honestly thought it was a joke. We sort of had this long running thing among the cast: “So when is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ going to do their musical episode? Singing and dancing down hallways and scooting around gurneys and wheelchairs.” I thought it would be really funny. But then we all figured, “It won’t happen here.” I wasn’t actually present when Shonda [Rhimes] dropped the bomb on everybody at a table read where I couldn’t make it. When I heard about it afterward, I thought everybody was playing a joke on me. I realized, “That’s actually happening. Oh, wow. Well, this will be interesting.” When Shonda told us she wanted to do this, and what it was going to be like, and that it was not going to be us singing and dancing down the hallways, it became extremely intriguing and all of us just jumped on board with it and are super proud of everything we’ve done and just genuinely excited to see it ourselves because we haven’t yet.
Go Behind the Scenes of the “Grey’s Anatomy” Music Event:
Had you done a lot of singing before this episode?
No. Not at all. But I sing by myself and a lot with my kids. My husband knows I sing and close friends do, but I’ve never done it to any degree like what we did. It was a really, really exciting adventure and we got to work with a really wonderful vocal coach and I just went right into it.
What songs are you singing?
I am singing “Breathe- 2AM” by Anna Nalick, and then Sarah Drew and I sing the chorus while Sara [Ramirez] sings the verses on the song “Grace,” which is a really beautiful song and there are a few other sings I sing parts of.
Whose voice is going to surprise and impress viewers?
This is going to sound really narcissistic, but people are going to be shocked by the way I sound. In the episode, it’s predominantly Sara [Ramirez], Chandra [Wilson], Kevin [McKidd] and after that, I have the only solo. I shocked myself, to be honest. I had a lot of people come up and just really compliment me. That was really exciting. Besides that, Jessica [Capshaw] has a beautiful voice. I don’t know if people know this, but Kevin McKidd is a rock star. Scott Foley has a great voice. There’s a lot of people that came in and went for it and I think people are going to be shocked by the way everybody sounds.
How did you put the production together?
We went in and we recorded everything first. We did scratch vocals, which is something we can actually record and listen to before the final vocals. Then we used our scratch vocals to be able to rehearse with. We did two weeks of rehearsals before we actually filmed. What it came down to the days that we were actually filming the episode, we had playback. We would play it out loud so that everybody could hear it during certain scenes. Then during other scenes where we also had dialogue we had to use the little ear pieces and we would have to sing live in between the dialogue. That was really interesting. It was a cool process. We definitely laughed a lot doing it.
If the staff at Seattle Grace faced the kids from “Glee” at Nationals, who would win?
We’d take them down for sure.
Are there any other genres you’d like “Grey’s” to tackle, perhaps a silent film or a black and white episode?
I think that black and white’s a really good idea. I might have to bring that one up.