‘Up Here’ Cast & Crew Talk About The Show’s Musical Charm – Interview
In Hulu’s new romantic comedy, Up Here, love can be felt in the air. But that’s not all! Besides telling the story of two people who are brought together by fate, the show is a musical, electrifying the screen with numbers that explain the characters’ feelings with tunes that will be stuck in your head for weeks!
Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes star as Lindsay and Miguel, respectively. Lindsay has been stuck in an uncomfortable relationship for far too long, and Carlos has found success in a life that doesn’t quite make him happy. When the two meet in a random New York City bar, they’ll start questioning themselves regarding what they actually want from their future.
Geeks of Color had the opportunity of talking to the cast and crew behind the new musical comedy, diving deep into the production’s themes and the effort it took to bring it to life. Setting up a musical designed for the stage is an enormous challenge by itself, and constructing one for television is a whole different medium filled with complexities of its own. Fortunately, the team behind Up Here found plenty of different ways to make the most out of what television has to offer in terms of possibilities.
Katie Finneran and Andréa Burns were eager to talk about their expectations for the show, and they even displayed some amazing skills for speaking Spanish in the process! When asked about what attracted them to the series when they read the script, Katie Finnernan said, “I think Kristen and Bobby Lopez, Tommy Kail, Steve Levenson…(if) you put those people together, I don’t even care what it’s about! You’re in good hands!” The Tony Award-winning actress was very confident on the team behind Up Here, who has found plenty of success when they were involved in previous musical projects.
The show’s leading couple, Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes got to know each other’s strengths as performers during the filming of Up Here. We asked Whitman what Valdes’ best qualities as a musical actor were, and this is what Whitman said, “Honestly, I’m Carlos’ biggest fan. He’s a fucking superstar. He does it all! I saw him move quickly, which I always admire people that can still do that at our age. I’m shocked, he jumped off a thing, and he’s running around. But I think the thing I love the most about him is his ability to genuinely and vulnerably express himself while singing!”
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the married couple behind the music of the Frozen films and WandaVision served as both songwriters and story writers for Up Here. For them, writing the series was a very different experience than writing only the songs for a production. As Anderson-Lopez said, “We had wonderful, wonderful collaborators, too. I would never say it was just our own because we had the best of the best. The director, Tommy Kail, who directed Hamilton; the screenwriter and showrunner, Steven Levenson, who did Dear Evan Hansen. We had this incredible team, and our two co-stars, Mae and Carlos. It’s definitely not our own, it was created by a family.”
Steven Levenson and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, some of the main producers of the show, agreed that stories that unashamedly believe in the power of love and romance are important for audiences. When asked about the relevancy of romantic projects, Levenson explained, “I think that, from the beginning, the idea that inspired this show was ‘Can you ever really know somebody else?’ and ‘Can somebody else ever really know you?’ It automatically becomes a question about love. Can you actually know somebody else, or are you always, on some level, projecting who you think they are or who you think they want you to be?”
Thomas Kail, the director behind Broadway’s smash hit Hamilton, was eager to explain the difference between working for a stage production and how that translates when the stories are brought to the screen. Kail said, “It’s interesting because this particular story has these internal voices. It’s really suited to television. Because you can have the immediacy of all of them being there, and then, in one edit, they’re gone. And that’s something that’s obviously so much harder to do on stage, just physically. Just in terms of how bodies move through space. So this was a story that was absolutely suited to be told in this way!”
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