TV shows love to dabble in musical theatre. Shows like Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy and Royal Pains all have had musical episodes, showcasing Broadway talent like Zach Braff and Tony winners Sara Ramirez and Christine Ebersole, respectively.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend takes it to the next level; the CW show is a full-on musical comedy sitcom, with about three songs per episode and cast members like Tony nominee Santino Fontana on the roster. Netflix’s Gilmore Girls reboot is set to have a musical episode guest-starring Tony winners Christian Borle and Sutton Foster, with music by Tony-winning Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori.
Foster happens to lead her own hit television show, Younger—and the stage stars don’t stop there. In the story, about 40-year-old Liza who poses as a 26-year-old in order to re-enter the workforce at a Manhattan publishing house, Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s original Yitzhak, Miriam Shor (who also shared the stage with Foster in the 2015 Encores! production of The Wild Party), plays her boss; veteran actress Debi Mazar plays Liza’s age-appropriate best friend; singer Hilary Duff plays her younger bestie; Molly Bernard, fresh off an acclaimed run in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. at Soho Rep, plays another gal in Liza’s squad; Nico Tortorella, who just made his New York stage debut Off-Broadway in Crude, is her boyfriend Josh; and Peter Hermann rounds out the love triangle as her age-appropriate, but professionally-inappropriate, love interest Charles. (Not to mention the slew of theatrical guest stars the show has seen, including Tony winner Jane Krakowski, Tony nominee Matthew Morrison, Michael Urie and, this season, Krysta Rodriguez and Jennifer Simard.)
In the words of Bernard, “It’s a cast of heroes.”
It only seems fitting that a musical episode could be on the horizon. But, creator Darren Star has other plans. “Darren straight up said no,” says Duff. “He was very bold about that.”
What’s more, “I think Sutton has decided her character is tone deaf,” says Shor. “It does seem a shame though, right?”
Indeed. Which is why Tortorella has something else in mind. “I don’t think we’ll ever see a musical episode, but I want to do Younger: The Musical, 100 percent,” he says. “We all perform. It’s a no-brainer. Even if it was just a one-month, low-key run.”
It’s true that as a story, TVLand’s Younger has all of the ingredients of a great musical: a heroine with a juicy secret, a love triangle, deep friendship and a dash of ostentatiousness. (At least pieces of Shor’s wardrobe as Diana must have come out of a costume shop.)
So what would a Younger musical look like? “It would be a Mama Rose moment,” says Shor, pondering Diana’s big number. “I feel like that would be her moment where everything would strip away, and she’d be like, ‘Where’s my song? When is the spotlight on me?’”
“Charles would do some sort of Journey, [like] ‘Don’t Stop Believin’,’” says Hermann of his character. Tortorella titles his solo number “The Boy with the Dragon Tattoo,” a love song—no doubt—since his tattoo-artist character branded himself with the creature that corresponds to the Chinese symbol of Liza’s fake birth year: a dragon.
The clincher, though, would be Foster’s 11-o’clock number. “It would be her moment of her big reveal,” Foster supposes. The moment where (unlike in the television show) Liza confesses to everyone her true age and stops leading a double-life. “‘I Am Me’ or something … before she tells everyone the truth. She would have to have some revelation of her worth. [Very] ‘I Am What I Am,’ you know? I feel like that’s a constant theme in musical theatre: somebody embracing who they really are.”
The more the cast thinks about it, the more plausible it seems—though nothing through any official channel has been proposed or announced.
“I definitely want to get back onstage as soon as possible,” Tortorella says, “[and] I would love to do a musical. I grew up in musical theatre, and it’s been a long time. Crude was the first time I’ve been onstage in ten years. I got the bug.
“We could probably get it up in rehearsals for two weeks and be ready to go,” he adds, laughing.
Hermann gives some side eye to his co-star, “Famous last words.”