‘Yes, It’s Really Us Singing: The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Concert Special!’ was filmed over two nights at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles and will air after the series finale April 5.
Rachel Bloom kicked off Yes, It’s Really Us Singing: The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Concert Special! just as she kicked off the series: by sitting on a floating, giant pretzel mid-air. “It’s the same one from the pilot,” the co-creator, songwriter and star of the musical comedy told the crowd of 2,000 diehard fans at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday night, just after reaching the ground and unbuckling her seatbelt on the pretzel. “That was like the Tower of Terror meets R and H [Rodgers and Hammerstein],” she lovingly joked.
After four seasons, but running for just as long as Bloom and co-creator, showrunner, EP and head writer Aline Brosh McKenna had intended, The CW’s musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend bid farewell to the show with a taped concert special filmed over two nights in Downtown Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday with a locked setlist of over 20 of the series’ 157 songs. Splicing together the performances from both nights for a 42-minute run time, the special will air after the show’s series finale on April 5.
Live performances of the show’s original songs aren’t new for the cast, as they embarked on an eight-city tour last year for Crazy-Ex Girlfriend: Live!, stopping in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Already, Bloom was thinking of how the concerts could be filmed professionally.
Ahead of Saturday’s concert, Bloom told THR: “The Crazy Ex concerts are some of the most fun I, and I think the cast, have ever had on a stage,” she said. “When we unexpectedly got more episodes than we thought ordered for the final season [18 in total], we decided that this was the perfect opportunity to show every fan how we breathe new life — and new jokes — into these songs. Jack Dolgen [Crazy Ex songwriter, director, EP and bass player for the concert] likes to say that this concert is the exclamation point on the series.”
Some of those new jokes included Esther Povitsky [Maya] spraying Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin [Paula], Gabrielle Ruiz [Valencia] and Vella Lovell [Heather] with glitter during their “feminist and anti-feminist” tune, as Bloom preluded, “Let’s Generalize About Men” anthem and Pete Gardner [Darryl] jumping in for the final chorus of “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems, Too,” alongside Scott Michael Foster [Nathaniel] and David Hull [White Josh]. Coming onstage “aghast” wondering why he wasn’t included in the song, Skylar Astin, who joined Crazy Ex as Greg for the final season, also had his moment to shine, belting out the Bruce Springsteen-inspired “I Hate Everything But You.”
The concert also featured hilarious running bits, like Bloom’s feigned frustration at having to clean the stage, even bringing up an audience member dressed as “Itchy Cat” from the show to help her sweep off confetti, and Danny Joles [George] never getting “his turn” a la the famous “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy. But the most uproarious gag, and was most likely covered the previous night, was Bloom’s failure to get her parents to say their lines accurately. For the song “I’m a Good Person,” she went up to her parents sitting in the center of the theater, demanding: “Mom and Dad, say I’m a good person or I will put you in a terrible nursing home.” But her father kept flubbing the line, saying “I’m” instead of “you’re.” They finally got it right when Bloom told her mom to cue him in by “hit[ting] him, like you normally do when you want him to speak.”
But every taping is not without its resets and breaks, which was where Brosh McKenna stepped in as the night’s unofficial hype man. In between answering trivia questions, Brosh McKenna would take audience questions about the series, which became the most revealing portion of the evening.
She shared that releasing sheet music for the show’s songs is “definitely on Rachel’s list” and that a stage musical is on the horizon, but the distant horizon. “It’s something we would like to do, but we don’t know what the timeframe is.” Bloom concurred, telling THR that “Aline and I have started talking about it. It’s in very, very, very early stages.”
Brosh McKenna also confirmed why Josh [Vincent “Vinnie” Rodriguez III] was originally in New York in the pilot, as his chance meeting with Rebecca is the catalyst for her move to West Covina. “Josh went to college for hospitality. He went to Cal State Northridge, I believe. He sent out resumes and got a job in New York working at the convention center planning parties and events. But he realized he didn’t fit in there — he wore flip flops to work. He was planning to move back anyway and then he ran into her.”
Bloom later addressed which genres of songs they wish they could have done on the series and if they had taken requests from actors on the show. “We never got to do a K-pop song for Vinnie and we never got to do a Beatles or Monkees thing for the guys.” But she did revel in how special it was that the characters were crafted with the actors playing them in mind. “We wrote ‘Angry, Mad’ to showcase all of Vinnie’s dancing and martial arts skills.” Rebecca herself is an extension of Bloom, Brosh McKenna, and other people they’ve known who have been in obsessive love. She told THR that she will miss Rebecca’s “lack of impulse control.” She explained, “Rebecca is, in many ways, an emotionally heightened version of myself, so there was always a freedom to acting out the deepest parts of me that I’ve sometimes suppressed.”
One of the most heartfelt moments of the night came before a medley of “The Darkness” and “You Stupid Bitch,” as Bloom thanked the fans for making herself and the writers feel less alone. She admitted to resonating with the latter song the most, telling THR that “the emotional energy going into ‘Stupid Bitch’ is so special. Every time I do that song live, it feels incredibly intimate, like I’m somehow having a personal moment with all 2,000 or-so audience members.”
The concert came to a close with a group tap number and surprise appearance by Rebecca Bunch’s therapist, Dr. Akopian [Michael Hyatt], leading the company in “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal.” But before the cast members took their final bow, Bloom implored the audience to stay seated for an encore. “That was the end in case we couldn’t air this for broadcast, but there is an encore.” Bloom then proceeded to take off her top and cover bra, clad in her bra for the fan-favorite song “Heavy Boobs.” Introducing the song, she quipped: “I could feed a thirsty country with my sweat.” The entire cast came on for the song, all wearing bras over their polo shirts.
Adam Schlesinger, pianist for the concert, songwriter, and executive music producer for the series, treated the crowd to a a rousing rendition of “Stacy’s Mom.” He’s also a member of Fountains of Wayne. Bloom chimed in and sang along, joking that “we probably don’t have time for this, but turn my mic on.”
As guests made their way into the lobby post-show, they could take a seat under a “Serrano’s” banner or pose in front of “Ye Towne of West Covina” from the “Where’s Rebecca Bunch?” number.
The Orpheum’s lobby also played host to fun set pieces from the show, with props like a “Serrano’s” banner for Greg’s family’s Italian restaurant and a “Ye Towne of West Covina” sign from the Beauty and the Beast-styled “Where’s Rebecca Bunch?” number. #CrazyExGirlfriend pic.twitter.com/2AqeG4WY4O
— Tara Bitran (@tarabitran) March 17, 2019
Inside the “Orpheum Club” lounge area, attendees adorned in pretzel outfits, “The Cringe” skeleton dresses, and red and pink sequined ensembles from the season two theme song “I’m Just a Girl in Love” could compare their costumes with those from the series on display. Dresses included Bloom’s gown from “You Stupid Bitch,” her sexy fashion cactus garb from the “Love Kernels” music video, and Rebecca’s wedding dress.
The #CrazyExGirlfriend concert featured displays of costumes Rachel Bloom wore throughout the show, including her sexy fashion cactus garb from “Love Kernels,” Rebecca’s wedding dress, and her gown from “You Stupid Bitch.” pic.twitter.com/C3AePd8s2k
— Tara Bitran (@tarabitran) March 17, 2019
By the concessions stand, Crazy Ex paid homage to the eateries the characters frequented on the series, including the local donut shop on season four’s Rebetzel’s Pretzels wih a plastic pretzel, a promotional T-shirt hanging on the wall and a faux menu from the store.
Inside The Orpheum Club area where concessions were sold, #CrazyExGirlfriend playfully paid homage to the eateries characters would frequent on the show. The donut shop was highlighted, but Rebetzel’s was the star, with a huge plastic pretzel, a faux menu, & T-shirt on display pic.twitter.com/QMcswN6Y5f
— Tara Bitran (@tarabitran) March 17, 2019
Looking ahead to the series finale, Bloom teased to THR that the last line of the series is the same last line she pitched almost six years ago. After watching, she hopes viewers recognize that “our show is about searching internally for what makes you happy and doing something externally about that. Romantic love can be a means to that happiness or it can be a distraction from it. I hope this is what people remember the show for. That, and when done right, songs can be the best way to combine joke delivery and emotion.”
Another national tour isn’t in the cards for the cast at the moment, as cast members have already started booking gigs post-show. But they will likely appear in Bloom’s upcoming solo shows for a song or two if their schedules permit. “We’re all a family and I wouldn’t be surprised if we kept performing Crazy Ex songs together in some capacity for the rest of our lives,” she said. “Even if it’s a show once every 10 years.”
The cast will reunite for two more shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on May 14 and May 15. The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series finale and concert special are set to air on The CW on April 5.