Don’t miss the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist discussion on Paley Front Row
Recently, cast members Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Mary Steenburgen, Peter Gallagher, and Lauren Graham joined series creator Austin Winsberg and choreographer Mandy Moore for a Paley Front Row presentation hosted by Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican.
While there’s no word on what we might expect from the recently-announced second season, the panelists gave engaging new insights into some of the first season’s biggest moments.
Without spoiling it for you too much—this is definitely one socially-distanced interview you won’t want to skip—we gathered a few highlights from the conversation that get to the heart of all the reasons why we loved this series to begin with.
One over-arching theme, regardless of which episode was being discussed, was just how much musicals can “cut to the core of human emotions,” as Winsberg put it.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist at Paley Front Row is as touching as the show
After getting past some of the technical ideas, like how difficult it was to put together five to six musical numbers in eight days of shooting, the conversation quickly turned to some of the most impactful episodes and themes from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1.
Topics ranged from Alex Newell’s “wonderfully cathartic” experience in having his story mirrored through Mo in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor,” to choreographer Mandy Moore’s passion for making sure the dance “did not stomp on the beauty of the art of” American Sign Language in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence.”
Of course, one of the biggest driving forces in the series’s ability to connect with viewers was the way it handled the Clarke family’s journey with Mitch’s illness and eventual death.
Nearly every time the discussion returned to this plot point, whichever panelist was talking—but especially Winsberg, whose own father’s story was reflected in the storytelling—became overwhelmed. As a viewer, expect to feel that bittersweet ache all over again.
Maybe series star Jane Levy said it best:
I think what makes this show so explicitly beautiful—and kudos to Austin—is we don’t just show someone who can’t communicate. It’s a fantasy, so Zoey can communicate with him.
Even within that fantasy world, the series always brought open and honest discussions about the pain of loss and uncertainty of navigating everyday life and love. But don’t worry, as the host pointed out, it was “a good cry.”
That can be said of both Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and the Paley Front Row talk. Just like always, if you’re looking for someone who well and truly “gets” it, look no further than this incredible series and every ounce of its creative team.
You can catch Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Paley Front Row, as well as all the other conversations in the series, by clicking here.