(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read if you haven’t watched Wednesday’s episode of “Riverdale” Chapter 31: “A Night to Remember”)
The anticipated “Riverdale” musical episode has come and gone, but we are still reeling from the music, the drama, and the return of the Black Hood (we warned you: spoilers!).
TheWrap caught up with Casey Cott, who plays Kevin Keller, ahead of Wednesday’s episode to discuss what it was like directing Riverdale High’s production of “Carrie: The Musical.” The actor said the Broadway play’s themes “matches the dark undertone” of “Riverdale.”
“There’s a really cool line in the beginning of the episode where Jughead [Cole Sprouse] asks Kevin why we’re doing ‘Carrie’ and Kevin has a really lovely response: that ‘Carrie’ really reflects the town that is Riverdale,” Cott said. “So I think that’s why he’s chosen that musical, about this really dark town, going through all these really dark things, and there’s nothing more ‘Riverdale’ than that, so it works perfectly.”
Although the special episode included a whopping 11 musical numbers, the cast didn’t have extra time to shoot it.
“We did it all in the same amount of time we do a normal episode, which is pretty insane,” Cott said. “Riverdale” isn’t shy when it comes to featuring music, but Cott said this episode was different than your average episode that features a song or two.
“Those musical episodes are pretty stationary, you know, they kind of happen on a stage,” the 25-year-old actor said. “Whereas a lot of these ones were happening in real time all over the [school] — all over, whether it was in the student lounge, the music room, or onstage, or in the theater … There are some similarities, but they are pretty different in the intricacy of shooting.”
And as for the Black Hood’s macabre return? Cott is “all about it.”
When Mr. Svenson was revealed as the Black Hood earlier this season, Cott said he found it “kind of lame.”
“I was like, ‘I really hope this is not the end of this guy,'” he said. “But he’s back in full force and it’s about to get rowdy. So just prepare yourself because it’s next-level from here on out.”
Read the rest of our interview with Cott below, which includes how Kevin ended up in an “iconic” powder blue tuxedo for opening night.
TheWrap: It seemed like Kevin was trying to bring all these friends back together with this musical. Is that true?
Casey Cott: I think that’s very true. I think you definitely hit the nail on the head. That’s very apparent in the episode. I think that’s part of it, but I also think Kevin is just obsessed with this musical and wants it to be epic. So it’s half and half.
What about “Carrie: The Musical” is Kevin obsessed with?
I think Kevin is just excited to be able to put on a musical. I think it’s less about this specific musical and more just musicals in general. But obviously, he’s chosen this one for this year, and I think it matches the dark undertone. There’s a really cool line in the beginning of the episode where Jughead [Cole Sprouse] asks Kevin why we’re doing “Carrie” and Kevin has a really lovely response, that “Carrie” really reflects the town that is Riverdale. So I think that’s why he’s chosen that musical, about this really dark town, going through all these really dark things, and there’s nothing more “Riverdale” than that, so it works perfectly.
There’s one line where Kevin says, “Am I directing a train-wreck here?!” Things just keep going wrong. But why is Kevin uniquely situated to handle these crazy situations as the director?
“I think of anyone in the show, Kevin seems to be the most loyal friend — minus that one little weird thing with [Betty’s brother] Chick — but I think Kevin’s the most loyal friend. He’s the most wanting everyone to get along. He loves the drama, but not with his friends. And I think he’s always just trying to rally the gang and keep them together. Keep them strong.”
Were you a theater kid growing up?
I’m a super theater nerd. I went to school for acting and theater, musical theater, and my brother [Corey Cott] is a Broadway actor. We’re a very musical family.
What’s your favorite musical and/or TV musical episode?
I don’t think I have a specific favorite one, there’s so many. I love Sondheim and I love Stephen Schwartz, I love all the shows my brother has done. He just did a show called “Bandstand” last year that I loved. As far as musical episodes, the one that stands out in my mind is the “Scrubs” episode .. I think the “Scrubs” episode is the one that stands out in my memory that I remember from many years ago that I really enjoyed. There’s so many, it’s kind of its own genre.
How much time did you spend doing choreography and practicing the musical numbers in addition to regular film time?
Actually, we didn’t have any extra time to shoot this one. We did it all in the same amount of time we do a normal episode, which is pretty insane. The amount of things you have to do on top of just shooting an episode like, the dance rehearsals, the recording sessions, it was gnarly. But luckily, our cast is just people you throw on something, and they’re like alright, let’s do it. Just jump in and we went bonkers, but it was so much fun. And hats off to the crew, too, because they stuck through it. I have never had more fun, it was such a blast, so we did a lot with very little time but I think it ended up well.
You guys are used to performing musical numbers sometimes on the show in regular episodes, did that help prepare you?
We do sometimes. Those are really isolated. So let’s say, Josie and the Pussycats have a number, they’ll go to the recording studio on a Saturday or something and record that, and then we’ll all shoot it together, but it’s a lot more simple than the things we were doing for this episode. And those musical episodes are pretty stationary, you know, they kind of happen on a stage. Whereas a lot of these ones were happening in real time all over the [school] — all over, whether it was in the student lounge, the music room, or onstage, or in the theater… There are some similarities, but they are pretty different in the intricacy of shooting. Like the technicalities of actually shooting those scenes.
So the biggest thing about this episode is obviously the ending, it’s insane.
You mean when Midge [Emilija Baranac] is crucified to the backdrop?
That’s even more shocking than Cheryl covering herself in blood. It just escalates. So, what do you think about the Black Hood being back in Riverdale?
I’m all about it. Like I was ready for it to strike back up — cause I never believed that that guy [janitor Mr. Svenson] was the Black Hood. I just thought it was kind of lame. I was like, ‘I really hope this is not the end of this guy.’ But he’s back in full force and it’s about to get rowdy. So just prepare yourself because it’s next-level from here on out. But I was really excited that they threw it in at the end of this episode, because there’s so much happening that it brings you right back to the plot. It served a purpose in that way.
I was impressed with how well the story of the Riverdale students was woven into the story of Carrie and vice versa.
Totally. [Showrunner] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] is a genius.
The last thing I have to talk to you about is Kevin’s powder blue tuxedo that he wears on opening night.
Thank you! … I’m like ‘guys, that thing was iconic!’
It was so iconic. So let’s talk about it, how did that happen?
So I went in to a costume fitting and they had that one, and then this like kind of mahogany one that was fine, but when I put the powder blue one on, I was like, guys, this is straight out of ‘”Dumb and Dumber.” But also in the style of our show, Kevin is being serious. This, like, has to happen. And then they had that gigantic bow tie, and from there on out, it was like game over. But you know what’s funny? I wore that for like four days of shooting, and by the end I was very excited to not wear it again. But people were just having a field day. There are a lot of photos of me in that suit… I don’t think they had to alter it at all, it just kind of fit. Of all the costumes to wear, that’s the one that fit.
It’s exactly what I would imagine Kevin would decide to wear
To wear to be an audience member. Yeah, so like make sure everyone knows it’s his show.
“Riverdale” airs Wednesdays on The CW at 8/7c.