If you've attended too many bar mitzvahs or events where people are shaking it and clamoring for the tchotchkes that the dancers hand out, then you'll probably get a kick out of Glow Ropes: The Rise and Fall of a Bar Mitzvah Emcee. In the recent DVD release, Scrubs' spunky Judy Reyes breaks out of her TV role to play a heavily accented and much-sought-after party planner. TVGuide.com caught up with Reyes to learn how she landed this role, how her recovery from hip surgery has been going, and, of course, to get lots of scoop on Scrubs (Thursdays at 9 pm/ET, on NBC). Well, two out of three ain't bad, right?
TVGuide.com: This movie was cute. I was worried when I heard the term "straight-to-video".... Sometimes that is a really bad thing.
Judy Reyes: We did have a very tiny theatrical release, so it wasn't super straight-to-video. We also had a super-tiny budget. But it really did serve us very well. It was a completely independent venture. It was totally in the hands of my good friend George Valencia, who spearheaded the whole thing.
TVGuide.com: So he approached you about this role and also producing?
Reyes: Yeah, George had done three short films before this that I was a part of. He was an actor before then, and he got tired of looking for jobs so he started writing these wonderful little projects. I got to do a bunch of really different things with him. He's such a whiz about getting them done at breakneck speed, but good-quality and really professional stuff. This project was based on his 12-year experience as a bar mitzvah dancer. He wrote this totally wacky, campy and over-the-top wedding planner [character] for me, and we just went really nuts with it.
TVGuide.com: Vanessa seems very different than the roles we've seen you in before.
Reyes: Yes. It was really fun, cheesy, great fun.
TVGuide.com: Was any of your dialogue improvised?
Reyes: The testimonials were improvised — every time Vanessa was pitching party ideas for what she was envisioning for the kids. I was surprised how much George ended up keeping. It is really comfortable working with your friends, because you can relax and play and just do crazy stuff.
TVGuide.com: Have you been to a lot of bar mitzvahs or sweet-16 shindigs?
Reyes: I'd only been to one bar mitzvah, but I'd definitely been to a few sweet 16s. I had one with my sister.
TVGuide.com: What was your theme?
Reyes: I'm a twin, so we had a double sweet 16. It was just pink. The themes were always cotillion-style, with the big poofy gowns. It was kind of like a little wedding. We made a big entrance and did this whole choreographed number from West Side Story. We released doves indoors. Why? I don't know. You've never seen so many Latin people jumping over tables to grab two doves indoors. They were fighting over them. It was hilarious.
TVGuide.com: Do you have a favorite tchotchke that they hand out at these kinds of events? I'm partial to the maracas.
Reyes: I can't stand them. But the blowups apparently are a prized possession. When we were at the Miami Jewish Film Festival, at the motel that we were staying at there was a bar mitzvah laying out and everybody had glow ropes on their neck. We were cracking up.
TVGuide.com: How perfect is that?
Reyes: It was so perfect. We had just screened to a sold-out house at the film festival.
TVGuide.com: The parties in the movie seem over-the-top but yet, having gone to some of these outrageous events, it doesn't seem so crazy after all.
Reyes: It's hysterical to see what superstars these dancers are at these events. It's bizarre to us because it's like, "You hire people to dance?"
TVGuide.com: "Get the party going!"
Reyes: [Laughs] But it works, it works.
TVGuide.com: Are you hoping to do more producing?
Reyes: It's a challenging thing to enjoy when you have as little money as we do, but I think to get to do movies like this, to play these kind of roles, like [the role of] Vanessa, to continue to do different things, indie projects, to feel artistically free to do all that stuff.... I think I'm going to have to keep doing it, so I look forward to it.
TVGuide.com: And then there's your insane-seeming day job!
Reyes: Which gives me the luxury to do other projects and to work with friends. That's the fun part of it all.
TVGuide.com: I just rewatched the Scrubs musical episode. I know that you had just had hip surgery, and I'm still completely in awe at how well you were dancing.
Reyes: I hurt myself when we started shooting that episode — I shot that just before Christmas — and that was the last thing that we had to do for the episode. But it is still impressive, I do agree with you.
TVGuide.com: It's not as though you only had to move from one side of the room to the other. You were really shaking your hips.
Reyes: And I'm so thrilled, it took like 10 hours to shoot that, from every angle possible, and the only thing that hurt after that was my feet. My hips didn't hurt at all, I was having such a blast, but my feet were throbbing to the lyrics by the end of the day.
TVGuide.com: And you have a great voice, too.
Reyes: Thank you. All the kinds of things I look forward to doing in my independent films.
TVGuide.com: Were you at all nervous when they were like, "Oh, we're doing a musical episode"?
Reyes: No, I was thrilled, I couldn't wait. In fact, that was one of the first things [I worried about] in the hospital, getting told I had to have surgery. Sarah Chalke called me on my cell phone and said, "Oh, my god, Judy, are you OK?" and I was blubbering in tears. Scrubs was wonderful about postponing, rearranging schedules around my surgery. Hearing "You will get to do your tango" was a very dramatic moment.
TVGuide.com: Carla is getting a juicy story line this season, becoming a new mother, suffering from postpartum.... That's some heavy stuff for a comedy. Is that exciting not always doing the silly stuff?
Reyes: It's really thrilling for [series creator] Bill [Lawrence] and the writers to be taking advantage of Carla's character that way, and for me as an actress to be having the opportunity to stretch. There are so many TV comedies right now doing stunt-casting, and consciously Bill Lawrence and the writers said, "Screw that. It's our sixth season, we're going strong, and we're going to take advantage of our ensemble." And I'm just glad that they're doing that very well with Carla this year, and giving me a chance to use all of my skills.
TVGuide.com: It seems like Scrubs has a real family vibe there.
Reyes: Absolutely. It's a true family. And it was such a crowning achievement with the musical. Bill hired out a theater and everybody who was involved in it, from dancers to background, was there to watch it and celebrate it. It was like sitting in a theater on Broadway, with everybody laughing and watching and singing along.... It was really fantastic.
TVGuide.com: The show is supposedly coming back for one more season. Are you looking forward to that?
Reyes: Yeah, absolutely. If one of us comes back, we all come back, so I'm really thrilled. As long as we think that we're not "jumping the shark," so to speak, we're all in.
TVGuide.com: I think the writers have done a good job juggling three babies this year.
Reyes: I think so, too. We're better than ever.
TVGuide.com: Anything exciting we can look forward to from Carla the rest of the season?
Reyes: I'd just like to let you wait and see. For me as an actress, it continues to be exciting on Scrubs.
TVGuide.com: Are you looking for another project to work on with George during your hiatus?
Reyes: I made my directorial debut with George on a short film this summer that I'm just finishing up. Actually, I'm hopefully going to my final edit this week. My injury has slowed me down and put me off of editing for three months. Another terrifying challenge, but yeah, I'm working on that.
TVGuide.com: Great, well, I enjoyed Glow Ropes, and I've always loved Scrubs.
Reyes: Glad you liked it. I think people should really check out [Glow Ropes]. It's different, it's quirky and...
TVGuide.com: And the boys are cute, too!
Reyes: The boys are very cute. Very cute boys.
TVGuide.com: Always a good selling point.
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