While the upcoming Flash–Supergirl musical crossover features a big Glee reunion between Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, and Darren Criss, there are also other rich connections that run deep within this cast — and they oddly have to do with genitalia.
It turns out, Criss went to college with The Flash star Carlos Valdes, and even before this highly anticipated hour, the duo were already making music together, specifically for a show called Me and My Dick. The crossover, however, will be a little more PC as The Flash (Gustin) and Supergirl (Benoist) find themselves trapped in a movie musical by the Music Meister (Criss), and their only means of escape are to play through the script, complete with singing and dancing.
In a nod to Kara’s favorite film, The Wizard of Oz, everyone else in the vocally impressive cast is playing a character within this movie, thus Valdes doesn’t appear as Cisco, but as Pablo, a busboy at the nightclub owned by John Barrowman’s mobster who has aspirations of becoming a singer. EW sat down with Valdes to talk about the big reunion.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you feel when you first learned you guys were doing a musical crossover?
CARLOS VALDES: You know, some things are just star-crossed. Some things are just destined and written in the stars. This felt like one of those instances where it was just something that was going to happen. I think the cast saw it coming, the bosses saw it coming, and to a certain degree it could be argued that the fans saw it happening. I think everybody was just really jazzed. You have to admit, it’s undeniably curious that so many people in our cast come from theater and have that skill set. So, I think it was just a no-brainer. Add to the mix that Greg Berlanti is a big fan of musicals, and presto — we’ve got a musical episode!
What can you tease us of what’s really going on in the movie musical?
Darren Criss, whom I went to college with — so weird — he plays Music Meister, who’s essentially the baddie of the episode. He puts Barry and Kara into this shared dream, this sort of nightmare. He brings them into this illusory world where their objective is to literally figure out the plot of this traditional musical comedy. It’s very self-aware. It takes place in their own heads. We embedded into the script this idea that Barry and his mom used to bond over musicals, musicals always made things better. And so, this plot is based on that idea of musicals not just as a form of escapism, but also as a form of emotional catharsis.
How does Cisco take to being in this world?
Well, the thing about this dream world is it’s very much like The Wizard of Oz in the sense that Barry and Kara encounter the people that populate their daily lives, but they are different. They are characters in a musical comedy that have the same types of motivations and mannerisms that traditional musical comedy characters tend to have. So, it’s definitely a bit of a wacky episode in that respect.
What has the prep been like for this episode between music and choreography?
I was expecting there to be a bit more of a learning curve than there actually was. I was expecting us to have to scramble at the last minute to figure out how to make this happen. But honestly, it’s been a lot more fluid than I expected and I attribute that, honestly, to a good team. I mean, we’ve got [choreographer] Zach Woodlee from Glee, so he’s such a pro at this. He’s already got it mapped out. He already knows how to set it on the actors and it looks beautiful. So, I’m excited to see how it looks in the end, but as far as the process is concerned, it’s super. [Laughs]
How nervous were you going into your first take?
Well, I’m about to do it right now. You know, I have to say, I’m not really that nervous. I mean, this is sort of my bread and butter. This is the world that I come from. I have a degree in musical theater, so this is my sh—. You know what I mean? So, being here and doing this, I actually feel more at ease than I think I would at any other regular day on set.
What’s been the hardest part about the musical so far?
The hardest part? The hardest part for me is reformatting my conception of the performance of the musical for the camera. Because I’m used to having the experience of being in theater where it’s ephemeral, and it’s live, it’s big and it’s committed in that way, but when you reformat it so that it can work on camera it has to be filtered through a different understanding. So, the recording process, like making sure that my performance in the recording booth is matched by my live performance, that’s been an interesting aspect to play around with. Doing dance rehearsals so that we can do the performance and it can be captured once instead of rehearsing a number so that I can do it eight times a week for ad infinitum. This is very different having to rehearse so that we can just get one product out there and ship it out, and mass-produce it. It’s very different for me in that sense.
You went to college with Darren. What was it like reuniting with him in this capacity?
Dude, it’s been such a hoot and it’s been such a blast. It’s like old times. It’s weird because I’m seeing worlds mesh before my eyes, like, worlds that are very separate. There’s my Flash life, these people that I’ve been working with for the last two to three years, and then there’s Darren, whom I used to goof off with in college and write musicals about genitalia. [Laughs] That’s what we used to do. So, it’s very weird to have to experience that through a work setting, but dude it’s so much fun. Honestly, he works so hard — it’s been a really enriching experience and I’m learning a lot from it.
How is the Music Meister different from some of the villains we’ve seen on the show before?
Given the tone of the broadly colored musical, I think fans can expect Music Meister to be someone colored along those lines, basically. Definitely very different. I mean, it’s Darren. He’s such a goof and so he brings that vivaciousness to this character that I think distinguishes him from the usually dour metahumans that we have to face. So, it’s been really entertaining watching him play this, like, semi-narcissistic sadistic Music Meister.
Do we finally get the long-awaited interaction between Cisco and Winn?
Well, actually Winn in this episode is only present in the musical dream and he and I actually play a lot in that dream world. But in the real world, it’s actually Mon-El and J’onn J’onzz who bring Kara to Earth-1, so no. But it’s been a blast working with all of them. I met Chris Wood back when he was doing Containment and we were doing upfronts, and he’s such a cool guy. And I’ve heard Grant talk so much about how surreal it is for him to not just work with Darren and Melissa, but also to work with Chris, whom he went to college with. You know what I mean? So, there’s a lot of weird alma mater connections there.
The musical crossover will kick off at the end of Supergirl’s March 20 hour, with the majority of the action taking place during The Flash‘s March 21 episode; Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m., and The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Check out our full gallery of The Flash–Supergirl musical crossover photos here, get the scoop on the crossover here, check out our interviews with Darren Criss here and Melissa Benoist here.