‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Creator Previews the Show’s Biggest Musical Number Yet
When you wish upon a star — you still might not get what you’re hoping for. The earnest, superpowered Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) focuses on a meteor shower when the heart-tugging dramedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist returns from hiatus on March 28, but she isn’t chasing any astronomical pursuits.
The 29-year-old — who has an uncanny ability to perceive others’ emotions via “heart songs” and musical performances only she can see — is honoring a promise to her dearly departed father, Mitch (Peter Gallagher, who will be heard but won’t appear on camera).
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Having watched the dazzling Leonids meteor shower together when Zoey was a little girl, they made a promise to do it again whenever the celestial event returned. Now, it’s 21 years later and her dad is gone, lost to progressive supranuclear palsy in NBC’s Season 1 finale. “Zoey’s trying to honor the pact she made,” creator and executive producer Austin Winsberg explains. “But she feels like she’s been living in her own problems for too long, so one of her goals for the episode is to not let other people into her grief.”
Zoey’s challenge lies in finding friends or family who are free to join her, as she still wants loved ones in her orbit for the experience. Initially, her sometimes annoying coworkers at the tech company SPRQ Point, Leif (Michael Thomas Grant) and his best bro Tobin (Kapil Talwalkar), are the only ones in attendance. But Zoey’s circle tends to come through for her in the end, right?
Spirited neighbor Mo (Alex Newell) and loyal ex-beau Max Richman (Skylar Astin) are admittedly busy — their New Age restaurant, Maximo, is opening its doors. The launch is marred by a few stressful problems (“They have to deal with some fire safety issues,” Winsberg notes), but Max and Mo’s initially rocky partnership is now airtight. “They have learned that they each bring something pretty valuable to the table,” Astin says.
And it wouldn’t be Zoey’s without elaborate musical numbers (there are typically four to six performances per episode). This episode’s sweeping “one-er” — a song done in one take with no edits — occurs during the grand opening. “The song is ‘Let’s Get Loud’ by Jennifer Lopez, and it’s one of the biggest numbers we’ve ever done,” says Winsberg, who compares the nearly two-minute sequence with roughly 75 dancers to Beauty and the Beast‘s “Be Our Guest.” Astin describes it as “pure joy.”
There’s plenty else to look forward to as well, including the love triangle between Zoey, Max, and SPRQ Point PR spokesperson Simon Haynes (John Clarence Stewart) turning into a love quadrangle. “We’re bringing in a new person in this episode,” teases Winsberg. And coming soon, Season 1 guest star and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters returns as spunky widower Deb, pal to Zoey’s mother Maggie (Mary Steenburgen). Now that’s some real stargazing!
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Returns Sunday, March 28,9/8c, NBC