What to Expect From Rachel Bloom and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at Radio City

Interview   What to Expect From Rachel Bloom and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at Radio City
 
The creator and star chats about her sold-out New York City concert and hosting the upcoming Obie Awards.
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Rachel Bloom Monica Simoes

“We are a true mix of kind of a sketch show and a musical revue,” says Rachel Bloom one day before her sold-out Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live show at Radio City Musical Hall May 14 (with an encore performance May 15, tickets here.)

“We have people who come from comedy. We have people who come from musical theatre,” she continues. “There are amazing performers in the show, and there is choreography, and there is dance, so it really is a hybrid of those two worlds.”

Now that Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has concluded its four-season run on The CW, she and her Crazy castmates will take the stage to offer a night of musical numbers from the hit TV series with a bit of a different spin. Bloom and company have toured with numbers from the show in previous years, but Radio City is the ultimate.

“It’s unbelievable, you know, seeing my name in lights on Radio City is incredibly surreal,” she says.

Here, she lets Playbill in on what audiences can expect, why it might not be goodbye after all, and her upcoming hosting gig.

What was the impetus for these concert shows in New York and London, and your Long Island preview moment?
Rachel Bloom: Everyone in the show comes from live performance, and that's our first joy, and our first love. Performing these songs live, that's what I've been doing anyway as a touring comedian for years, and it just felt natural to make that a part of the show. We started doing it in smaller doses a couple years ago, and then we did a full tour last year that went so well. We wanted to do one more tour this year, but everyone's booking other jobs. We realized we could only really do one “tour moment” with everyone. They were like, "Radio City's interested." That's a pretty great way to end a group tour.

How do you go about making a show that feels big enough for Radio City?
It's a hybrid of what we've been doing on tour, and then what we did for the finale concert—our final episode was a stage special. We have group numbers that we did for that. We're going to be using some costumes and a little bit of the set design from the stage special. The rest of it is like hoping that our energy fills Radio City.The way this was sequenced was a mix of what we've done on tour, what we've done in the concert, and then I wrote a new script for this.

What are you able to do in a live stage setting when you don’t have to worry about serving a single-episode story?
The biggest thing is that we're playing ourselves, so we're not serving any sort of story or arc. We're embodying the characters at times, but we call each other by our real names. What we tried to do with every stage number is elevate the song, do something new with it that you hadn't seen on TV. Because the challenge is these songs start on television, they were already music videos in their, arguably, most perfect form, so what can you do when you bring it onstage that furthers that? Whether that's choreography or—I'm a writer. I think like a writer, so a completely kind of different writing idea to add a new joke to the piece. That's always the challenge.

With four seasons of the show to pull from, how do you choose the set list?
It tries to be an overview. It's a balance. We want to give everyone a moment to shine, and when we say everyone, it's like 14 people in the show. So we make sure everyone has a solo and can really take the stage. [Then it’s] picking songs that are iconic that the fans seem to love, that the fans have said changed their lives, and then picking songs that are our favorites to perform. And then, there are a couple songs that just really lend themselves to being done onstage. There are over 150 songs to choose from, and it's very challenging to pick which ones. It's very hard.

Do you have one that you most enjoy performing live?
“Stupid Bitch” is great. ”Diagnosis.” Any of my solos are great. I love doing, “I’m a Good Person” because there's so much energy, and I get to interact with the audience on it. I'm still always surprised, and honored by, how nice, and wonderful, and smart, and enthusiastic our fans are. They're so funny and great.

You mentioned everyone's beginning to book other jobs. Knowing that there isn't a next season after this tour, what does it mean to still be able to bring a performance together and be with everyone in the cast?
The interesting thing about this show is that we've had a million goodbyes. We all have the moments where we realize it's ending, and we break down, but we've been having those moments for like three or four months. So it actually feels like business as usual. Even in London, a couple of cast members are joining me for London. They are going to be little surprises. It's this kind of soft goodbye that's way more akin to being in, like, a college sketch comedy group. I really mourned the show. I mourned the characters. I mourned being on set, because that's a finite experience, but performing these songs live... This is the last time we'll be in a group like this doing these songs, but also who knows? We might have a Comic Con show five years from now.

And people have been asking will Crazy Ex-Girlfriend become a Broadway show?
The answer is yes it will, it's just [co-creator] Aline [Brosh McKenna] and I need some time to get space from the series, and do other things for a little bit, so that we can come back, and re-craft a narrative around what we already did.

Is there a moment from rehearsal for this particular concert that encapsulates your Crazy Ex-Girlfriend experience?
There's something really great happening with the number “The Moment Is Me” that has such a sense of play, and is really the definition of the perfect hybrid of a musical and a sketch comedy show. Seeing the writing executed for the first time is always an incredibly special moment.

What are you hoping to bring to the Obies as host that is like, “Rachel is taking over”?
Just to make it fun and entertaining. Rather than taking over, just making a show that people who are winning those awards want to see, and want to watch, that is for them. This is not being broadcast on television. We're not trying to appeal to like a general 18 to 34 demographic. I'm doing this for the people who are getting the awards, so that's really fun to craft that show with that in mind.

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