Sometimes dreams really do come true. At least one did for me. Over the weekend I flew to Los Angeles to attend “Grey’s Anatomy: The Songs Beneath The Show”, a benefit concert for The Actors Fund put on by the cast of Grey’s Anatomy. VIP ticket in hand, I arrived at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA and found myself enveloped by the warm embrace of my people. That’s right. Turns out there are lots of folks who love the show as much as I do! Seriously. It was as if the mother ship had called me home.
Having already taken advantage of my preferred parking status, I checked in at the VIP table and received a packet of information. Most vital? A Golden Lanyard which would get me into the exclusive Q&A session after the show. I kid (the lanyard was plastic with the GA signature Seattle skyline on it), but it was a Wonka-esque moment. Ooh! I also had to put a bright orange dot on the aforementioned lanyard in order to receive my coveted Grey’s Anatomy Swag Bag at the end of the night. Hee. More on that Q&A in another article (watch for it!), but for now…on with the show!
Update: Click here for the Q&A with the cast. Hospital hookups, crazy Fan encounters and more
Full disclosure: I’m normally not a big fan of being right in the front at a concert, but in this particular case? Heaven on earth. I was literally in the middle of all the action and as the lights dimmed and the band began to play the GA theme song, Psapp’s “Cosy in the Rocket“, the crowd erupted in wild applause and crazy anticipation.
First up? Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang) who acted as the emcee of the festivities. It turns out that Sandra shares Cristina’s blazing intelligence but her warmth and effervescence are the complete opposite of Dr. Yang. She had me charmed in seconds. Eric Dane (Mark Sloan) was Sandra’s comedic foil for the evening as the two non-singers triumphed in an extended gag that centered around Eric wanting to sing in the show and Sandra trying to make sure that was never going to happen. The high point of that farce came somewhere in the second act as Eric tried to slip the Grey’s Anatomy Music Supervisor his demo CD. Classic.
But wasn’t this a concert, you say? Indeed, it was and the job of singing the tunes fell to the remaining cast members. Jessica Capshaw (Arizona Robbins), Justin Chambers (Alex Karev), Sarah Drew (April Kepner), Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt), James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber), Sara Ramirez (Callie Torres), Kim Raver (Teddy Altman) and Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey) sang ten songs, all of which had been featured on GA at some point in eight seasons, with each cast member shining in his or her own way. Related aside: Yes, they are even more gorgeous in person. Every last one of them.
Many of the songs had been featured in the GA musical episode last season and they were as good or even better in concert, which is no small feat considering the demands of live performance. Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”. Jesus Jackson’s “Running on Sunshine”. “Wait” by Get Set Go. The Fray’s “How to Save a Life”. Kevin McKidd’s acoustic rendition of Gomez’ “How We Operate” was soulful and scorching, a complete stylistic contrast to the driving rock ballad featured last year on the show. I loved it. And Sara Ramirez singing Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” live on stage? Well, I’m not sure there are words to describe how incredible that was. She commands the room. Amazing.
There were also songs pulled from the expansive Grey’s Anatomy catalog that weren’t in last year’s musical and, thus, were completely fresh and new. Sarah Drew (cute as a button) sang “There’s a Girl” by the Ditty Bops. Chandra Wilson impressed with Lissie’s “Everywhere I Go”. Kevin McKidd (with support from Sara and Chandra) led an audience participation, call and response number: “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” by Mike Doughty. So much fun! I think that’s my new favorite song. I can not get it out of my head. Can not. Justin Chambers and three of his children (!) sang “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John. What a thrill to see the look of pride and delight on Justin’s face as his daughter brought down the house with her tremendous voice. As a mom myself, I totally got that moment.
Special guest Ingrid Michaelson performed her own “Keep Breathing”, which was featured in the season three season finale of GA. Michaelson moving and hilariously described her early attempts to get her music placed on the show, how she finally caught a break via Myspace (“Remember that?”) and how her life and career pretty much changed overnight because Grey’s Anatomy was and is such a big platform. Then she rocked the house with her music. No band, just her singing alone and accompanying herself at the piano. Gorgeous.
In addition to the songs, we were treated to an examination of a clip without and then with the background music (the season 2 finale, if you’re wondering…Izzie sobbing over Denny’s lifeless body; the aftermath of MerDer’s prom night tryst in an exam room; Cristina going to Burke as he lies in a hospital bed, his hand shaking). The song? “Chasing Cars”, now an iconic GA tune. I was reminded of how what now seems so commonplace on television— the music as a refection of the characters or even being another character (as music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas put it) —was once groundbreaking. The show that broke and continues to break that ground is Grey’s Anatomy.
That brings me full circle because last year’s episode (7.18: “Song Beneath The Song”) was all about taking chances and breaking ground. Some people loved it and others hated it (hilariously illustrated as cast members, in an inspired bit, dramatically interpreted actual viewer online comments on stage). Whichever camp describes you, and I can honestly say that I’m firmly in the neutral zone (see my original review from last year), I think it’s only fair to give the cast and show runners points for being willing to try something new. Sunday night, that brave project was brought to another level as The Songs Beneath The Show raised $100,000 for The Actors Fund and gave fans like me an evening to remember forever. Sometimes dreams do come true.
The next all-new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, airs Thursday, April 5 on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)