School's out, but the "Glee" kids haven't stopped believin'.
The cast making up the popular Fox show's band of singing teens launched its four-city tour Saturday in Phoenix, eager to bring the theatrics of a major network show to a smaller stage.
While the show's battling adults, played by Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison, were not part of the stage production, their absence was filled by taped messages to the audience. After an opening act by the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, Lynch took to the screens snarling that the night's entertainment was about to make the audience ill.
"You will be barfing," she promised.
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It was the start of an evening that only a fan would appreciate. Casual viewers who paid upward of $75 per seat surely wondered why they spent so much to see costumes mostly of color-coordinated street clothes, or a backdrop of bleachers made to resemble a music classroom. Or perhaps pondered why the set list seemed so disjointed.
The connecting spirit of the show was rooted in fan appreciation, starting with a list of song favorites from the TV show and going all the way to the cast's dash through an ecstatic crowd as Lea Michele, in character as glee club co-captain Rachel Berry, belted out "Don't Rain on My Parade."
"This whole thing kind of feels like a big 'Thank you' to the fans because they have made the show such a success so quickly and so early on," Kevin McHale, who plays the wheelchair-bound Artie, told The Associated Press. "So this is like giving back."
But while the cast is happy to give the show's rabid fans, who call themselves Gleeks, what they want, it also served up reminders that actors are behind the characters. When Cory Monteith drums during Mark Salling's "Sweet Caroline," Salling announces the talent as Monteith's, instead of that of his character Finn.
The cast slips in and out of character throughout the show. Heather Morris offers a few hilarious observations as ditsy cheerleader Brittany, but they're in sharp contrast to her expert dance moves.
Those impressed by the power in Amber Riley's voice also would be surprised that she sounds much softer and sweeter in person.
Live renditions of Chris Colfer's "Defying Gravity" and Jenna Ushkowitz's "True Colors" retained the poignancy and dignity of their televised counterparts. Ushkowitz's "Bad Romance" had the audience roaring (though most of the delight might have been for the bevy of co-stars dancing in Lady Gaga costumes).
For a show whose hit Journey cover asks viewers to suspend their imagination, the pricey admission ticket is a lot to ask for a glorified high school talent show. But for Gleeks, there's no pretending that they won't love their favorite show come to life.