'Glee Project' Season 1 Winners Reflect on Experience, Hope to Return
"People like Damian, Samuel, Alex and Lindsay I can honestly say were all people that I knew from the beginning would make it to the top 80. I just knew it," casting director Robert Ulrich tells THR.
Whether or not Season 1 Glee Project winners (and runners up) return to the Fox flagship or not, Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Alex Newell and Lindsay Pearce were grateful for the life-changing experience.
The four reunited recently at the TV Academy in North Hollywood for an Emmy consideration event for the Oxygen reality competition series, where they gathered with Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, casting director Robert Ulrich, among others, where they dished on their experience -- and gave the packed house a first-hand demonstration of their abilities.
"It's just made me so much better as a person," said Newell -- who appeared in two episodes as Vocal Adrenaline's secret weapon Unique. "Thinking that everything was going to come easy and I was going to sing my way through everything, [the show] made me work, it changed my work ethic and it genuinely humbled me."
Newell, who joined seven-episode winners McGinty and Larsen for a rousing performance of Glee Project anthem "Sing It" to kick-off the night, wasn't alone in his appreciation for the unscripted series.
"The last 18 months have been the best time of my life, and I will accept whatever happens and I will move on or I would love to stay on the show," said McGinty, who performed Bobby Darin's "Somewhere." (McGinty, Larsen and much of the rest of the Fox musical's cast will find out their Glee fate in the coming weeks.)
Following upbeat performances by Larsen (who covered "Here We Go Again") and Newell (who belted out his signature track "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," from Dreamgirls), frequent Glee Project mentor Darren Criss delivered a stripped down version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," which he joked he hoped people hadn't grown tired of yet. Pearce, who was on vocal rest, did not sing.
During the hourlong panel, Murphy -- who was in a particularly enthusiastic mood -- tipped his hat to Ulrich, who is responsible for screening the thousands of submissions for the Oxygen contest (the winner of which receives a seven-episode arc on Glee).
"When we did the first show last year, we taped it and I turned to Robert and said, 'I really get how this is going to be: You're going to be Paula Abdul and I'm going to be Simon [Cowell],' " Murphy said to laughs. "Robert is more than a casting director, he's a great cheerleader and roots for people to win."
Following the lively panel, the Season 1 winners -- along with Murphy, choreographer Zach Woodlee and the rest of the Glee Project experts, mingled with fans where several posed for photos -- and presented their headshots to Ulrich.
"People like Damian, Samuel, Alex and Lindsay, I can honestly say, were all people that I knew from the beginning would make it to the top 80," Ulrich told THR. "I just knew it."
Email: Maria.Miracle@thr.com; @MariaaMiracle
Sundance: On the Scene