Robert on The Glee Project
I served as the casting director for The Glee Project which is the same role I fill on Glee. In addition, I am also a mentor on the program. When casting the show, I initially had various first impressions of the contenders. I thought Bryce was really fun when he performed “Gold Digger” on MySpace, but when I heard him sing (specifically an original song of his) I thought he had one of the most unique voices I had ever heard. His voice, combined with his looks make him a really special performer.
Of all the MySpace contenders, Samuel’s video was the one that I kept going back to, his star-quality immediately popped. It was a surprise to me that someone with his “rock-star” look would want to be on Glee and beyond that, I found that when he spoke to the camera in his MySpace video, he exhibited a real warmth and accessibility.
I love Hannah’s vocal quality and my first impression (which has remained true) is that she sings from her soul. I instantly loved her.
I wanted Damian on the show, based almost solely on his monologue video from MySpace. He was so appealing as he spoke about his life and living in Ireland. Obviously, due to his extensive performance background, he is a wonderful singer, but on top of that he has that spark that makes you like him the moment you see him.
My first impression of Lindsay was that she has one of the best musical theatre voices that I have ever heard. The first time I heard her sing, she blew me away. There is also an electricity to her when she is on screen, elevated by her piercing blue eyes and big smile.
My first impression of Emily was that she had a great voice. She submitted a tape with very little speaking (only singing) and I knew nothing of her personality, so it was solely her voice that got her into the top 83 for callbacks. It wasn’t until I got to know Emily that I realized that we had gotten so much more than just a voice. She is a real spitfire with an incredible, larger-than-life personality, and I learned that she is smart and has a quick wit.
Cameron initially sang at the Dallas open call for my associate Alex Newman in the screening process. She sent him to me with high recommendations. I thought he was great, and special, but it wasn’t until I had him sing his original song that I thought he was a star. On top of that, he really is unlike anything we have on Glee.
Ellis auditioned in Chicago. My first impression was the same as everyone’s with it comes to Ellis – she looks like she is twelve. She sang “Don’t Rain On My Parade” which was one of the audition songs and I thought she sounded great. But when I had her sing something of her choosing and she chose a jazzy version of “Why Can’t You Behave” that showed me what a special talent she truly is.
Also from the Chicago open call, McKynleigh was another contender who, while she sounded good singing the song from the audition list, she really stood out when singing a country song that she chose. So my initial impression was that she was not only beautiful, but that she had one of my favorite voices in the entire competition.
My first impression of Marissa was that she was beautiful and that she had a wonderful voice. Her red hair really made her stand out, as well. What also separated her from the rest of the auditions was that she created a mood when she sang and she did her song with attitude. You could tell that she could act, just by the way she sang, which proved to be true.
Alex was probably the most surprising of all the 40,000 auditions in that he looked like a little boy, but he has such a powerful and high voice. My first impression was that he is enormously talented and that he has enormous potential. I thought that he was truly one-of-a-kind and one of the most unique performers I had/have ever seen.
My first impression of Matheus was that I loved his vocal quality. In addition, he has a great energy and I immediately found him to be likable. He is someone who exudes a warmth that is really infectious, which is such a perfect quality for a character on Glee.
The twelve contenders were chosen because they all have beautiful and unique voices. However, even more importantly, they each possess a quality that makes them fit into the Glee world — they are each accessible in their own way (which is a much needed attribute for anyone who is on Glee).
Get to know the contenders here!
As mentors, Zach, Nikki and I guide the contenders (through critiques and rehearsals), with the ultimate goal of keeping them out of the bottom three each week. The guest mentors use their individual experiences on Glee and in the industry to help and teach the contenders. The guest mentors were also given the task of choosing the winner of the homework assignment— the person who stood out the most in the group song and best personified the theme of the week.
Choosing people for the last chance performances was extremely difficult and became more difficult as the show progressed, as (even from the first episode) each contender was incredibly talented. Choosing the bottom three was usually based on very small details. Watching the contenders participate in the videos played a large part in our decision making, but we also took into consideration the homework assignment, the dance rehearsals with Zach, the recording sessions with Nikki and the overall attitude of each contender. We also considered their growth throughout the competition.
This season on the Glee Project will feature a lot of laughter and tears -- lots of extreme emotions on this show. You will also get a behind-the-scenes look at how performers progress through dance rehearsals, recording sessions and shoots, leading up to and including a performance. The show really gives an insider’s view of what it might be like to be on Glee. You can also look forward to hearing lots of great singing of course!
Click here to see what Robert has to say on the first episode of The Glee Project!