Supergirl's Melissa Benoist on trading supersuit for vintage wear
While her costars are dressed to the nines, dancing in a ’40s-set nightclub for an epic ensemble number, Melissa Benoist snaps a photo of her Supergirl cohort Jeremy Jordan playing the piano on a screen in video village. The Girl of Steel has arrived on set after multiple long nights tap dancing her heart out with Grant Gustin, but she boisterously cheers when the take comes to a close.
Later lamenting she was born in the wrong era, Benoist has returned to set in a vintage black dress — she’ll eventually suit up in a striking gold one for the climax of the tap number “Super Friend,” co-written by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom. Benoist, who broke out on the hit musical series Glee, is in her element, and it’s why she was beyond ecstatic when the musical crossover between The Flash and Supergirl finally came to fruition.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you feel when you first found out about the musical episode?
MELISSA BENOIST: I was really excited from day 1, like rumors and inklings of it that I’d heard, I was always down, always was excited about it. So now that it’s actually happening, it’s really exciting.
What was that prep like for the episode?
We didn’t have much prep. It honestly felt a lot like some of the Glee episodes we did where it was like, “Okay, we’re doing this thing, we have a week, and here are the songs, and now we dance the day we’re shooting it!” I like that energy. That’s the way it should be, and that’s how it feels when you’re doing a musical onstage sometimes.
How much time do you think you spent learning choreography?
Not as much as you would think. Grant and I had a couple-hour rehearsal, and then we don’t have to dance in this big number [“Put a Little Love in Your Heart”]. We tap dance together, and I think when you learn tap, it’s funny how things stay in your muscle memory. It was fun to pick it back up again and see your body and be like, “Oh, we remember how to do this. That’s weird.”
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Does it feel like doing an episode of Glee again?
Yeah, especially with Darren [Criss] here, and we have Zach Woodlee, who was the choreographer on Glee, so it does feel like this little reunion. When you’re doing a musical number, there is a certain feeling I remember having on Glee, when I worked on the show. That immediately came back.
What was it like getting to reunite with Darren?
I could not be happier that he’s here. He’s killing this role. He’s bringing such a fun energy to set, the way he did on Glee as well. We interacted quite a bit on Glee. Our characters were in the New Directions together, and his was kind of a mentor for the younger group of kids, which I was a part of that. It’s obviously a different dynamic now, but nevertheless it’s a low-key artists net.
Barry and Kara are thrust into this movie musical.
That we’ve created in our own minds. In essence, I see it as a challenge to Barry and Kara to look at their lives and see what they need to change. We put them in this world that they’ve created themselves, because they both love musicals, and they have to work their way through like a puzzle and follow the script and see what lesson they can learn from it.
In the first crossover between Supergirl and The Flash, Kara and Barry learned things from each other. What do you think they learn from each other this time around?
Well, now it’s not so much learning from each other, I think it’s more learning what they need to change in themselves, or there’s something they might be overlooking in their own lives. They’re obviously working together to fix this problem that they’re having, and ultimately, on their own, they have to figure out, “Oh, there’s something wrong with my life now, and I have to fix it.”
How does Kara take to being trapped in this world?
Both of them are a little reluctant at first. You’ll see that it grows on them in a really fun way.
How do you think the Music Meister compares to some of the other villains we’ve seen on these shows?
I always love when our villains have a bit of tongue-in-cheek quirkiness about them. They get silly and goofy, and that’s definitely what this is. He’s kind of this all-knowing and all-powerful being that we don’t really know where he comes from or why he’s doing what he’s doing until the very end, but I guess that’s how he’s different. He’s very mysterious and more magical than violent.
What’s been the hardest part about doing the musical so far?
There hasn’t been. I mean the hardest part is just the sheer massive amount of work there is to do. I’m getting to do what I love that it doesn’t feel like work. But the hardest part is just there’s so much to do that it gets overwhelming sometimes.
Were you nervous though?
Yeah, I mean, you always wonder, “Oh, is this going to work? Will this land? Will this play the way I see it in my head?” I think I had nerves and butterflies leading up to it, but the day I walked on set and saw everyone dressed the way they were, and my hair was done, and I had my little cloche hat on, and heard the music and put on my tap shoes, all of that goes away, and it just becomes fun.
In the musical, you have this ’40s ambiance and great costumes. It’s very different from what you normally do as Supergirl.
It’s a nice departure. It feels really good. Not that I don’t love the [Supergirl] suit, but it just feels good playing the same character in a completely different setting. That’s something Grant, and especially the Legends of Tomorrow folks, get to experience quite often because they go back in time and he’s been on Earth-2. I’ve not ever had this kind of huge departure before, except maybe when she was in the Black Mercy back on Krypton, so I’m eating this up.
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, and check out our interview with Darren Criss here.