Don't worry, we cringed too when Steven Pasquale burst into song in the latest episode of Rescue Me.
But once the shock wore off — and we realized that Pasquale could still make Sean Garrity hilariously stupid while singing — it became apparent that creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan had put some thought into the song-and-dance routines. (That's right, routines; there are more to come.)
"Those would be my fault," Tolan told TVGuide.com. "We were sort of looking for a way to showcase Steve's singing, and this seemed like the most natural way — these fantasies while he was being prepped for surgery or after. The good thing is they're all on story. The first one is more naturalistic — there's sort of an MTV feel to the second half of it, but it feels a little more grounded. Then they just spin out of control."
Pasquale has a history with musical theater. He originated the role of Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza and performed in The Secret Garden. Pasquale also just wrapped a run in the Tony-nominated Neil Labute play, reasons to be pretty, and in April, he released a jazz album titled Somethin' Like Love.
"I don't even know if the Rescue Me demographic is going to be interested in my old-fashioned jazz CD, but it was a lifelong dream of mine," Pasquale told TVGuide.com when the album was released. "It's great fun. I'm a big fan of the genre. If people don't dig the singing — which I'd hope they would — they will certainly dig the band playing the hell out of these old tunes."
Leary said that, much like Sean Garrity's kidney cancer story arc, the musical numbers were inspired by a real-life firefighter's crazy, drug-induced hospital visions. Tolan took the idea and ran with it, but Leary said seeing was believing.
"We were like, 'Let's shoot it and see what it looks like,'" Leary said. "And I've got to tell you, when we saw it on the monitor on the street in New York, I said, 'I think the audience is going to flip out. I don't think they're going to know what the hell is going on.' I hope people enjoy it as much as we thought they would."
Tolan said the crew enjoyed the change of pace. "It was very exciting for our crew to do those musical pieces," Tolan said. "The costume designers had to make headdresses for showgirls, and when it was all over, they said, 'Oh well, now we have to go back to picking which T-shirt the guys wear in the kitchen.' So it was really wonderful and great fun to do, but terrifying at the same time because there is real shark-jumping going on. [Laughs] There's a real danger of jumping the shark there."
So what do you think of the musical numbers we have seen so far? Are they pitch-perfect or do they fall flat?