“You know when your time is And your time is now.”
Those were the words of Rachel Berry as she attempted to psych herself up for that long-hyped NYADA audition, an audition that would lead her to an esteemed Manhattan arts school and take her from mere high school show choir diva to potential Tony nominee.
At least that was the plan, until Carmen Tibideaux, a Broadway legend and new dean at NYADA, showed up to judge Rachel’s and Kurt’s try-outs. Yes, that’s the same Carmen Tibideaux who inexplicably traveled to Lima, Ohio, just to watch two kids sing, and who also was played by Whoopi Goldberg.
Uh-oh, Rachel. You in danger, girl.
Yes, there’s a reason this week’s “Glee” episode was called “Choke.” That’s because — spoiler alert — Rachel did so in epic, heartbreaking fashion during that audition, forgetting the words to “Don’t Rain on My Parade” twice, then getting the smackdown from Tibideaux/Goldberg when she attempted a third do-over.
“I’m very sorry, but this audition is over,” our special guest star said.
Then, later, she sang the Kelly Clarkson song “Cry.”
For unrelated reasons, Coach Beiste also cried.
Lord, there were a lot of tears in last night’s “Glee.” There was also a decent number of songs — specifically eight — so let’s get right to the musical numbers.
“Music of the Night” — Kurt
Kurt staged an elaborate run-through of his planned audition song from “Phantom of the Opera,” one that involved an assist from Tina, a Phantom costume complete with half-mask and, apparently, at least some of the set from the Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video.
No, he wasn’t up to Michael Crawford’s standards. But he sang the Andrew Lloyd Webber song well enough. Fortunately, as we’d later see, he had an even stronger tune up his flamboyant NYADA audition sleeve. Grade: B-
“School’s Out” — Puck
One of the subplots this week involved Puck, the possibility that he won’t graduate and the fact that his dad is Michael Mancini from “Melrose Place.” This particular Alice Cooper ditty expressed Noah Puckerman’s eagerness to escape the confines of high school. It was a subtle, restrained number that involved loud guitars, motorcycles, Cooper-esque eye make-up for Puck and a bunch of “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”-style cheerleaders, and those same cheerleaders spreading their legs. The only thing missing was Mitch Kramer attempting to avoid getting paddled by a high school senior. Grade: B.
“Cell Block Tango” — Tina, Santana, Mercedes, Brittany and Sugar
This number brings us to the night’s other subplot, the one about domestic violence and the fact that Cooter apparently clocked his wife, Shannon Beiste. It was a totally out-of-left-field storyline, but one that gave the underutilized Dot-Marie Jones the opportunity to play some emotional scenes. It also provided an excuse to stage this “Chicago” number about female vengeance.
It was nice to see Tina get a solo, especially one that allowed her to engage in some tangoing of sorts with Mike, even if she did dance-shoot him in the head. (He had it coming, apparently. At least that’s my understanding.) They Rob Marshall-ed it up convincingly enough even if the reason for performing it — to demonstrate female empowerment in the face of male abuse — was a bit misguided, as Sue and Roz pointed out. Grade: B.
“Not the Boy Next Door” — Kurt
Forget “Phantom,” and throw on your gold lame pants, Kurt Hummel! That’s precisely what he did, making an 11th-hour audition switch — one that somehow still allowed him to wear the appropriate tear-away costume and bring on a trio of New Direction ladies as back-up singers — to sing this Hugh Jackman song from “The Boy From Oz.”
He was fabulous, winning over Tibideaux and proving that Hummel knows how to shake those hips when he has to. Grade: A.
Rachel Berry has done this “Funny Girl” belter at sectionals in 2009. She did it at the Tonys. She did it in “Glee the 3D Concert Movie.” She’s well-established herself as a comer. So how could she forget the words?
It’s unfair to evaluate this as a number since it never really got off the ground. But Lea Michele expressed Rachel’s gut-punching disappointment — “No, please,” she begged through sobs — so powerfully that I am giving this an A anyway.
“The Rain in Spain” — The boys of New Directions
At this point in this week’s episode of “Glee,” it became abundantly clear that the only reason Puck needed to pass a European geography test was so that he, eventually, would have to sing a rock version of this “My Fair Lady” classic, with Finn and the boys acting as his tutors.
Show of hands: Who ever took a test in high school that required them to know that the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain? Or that in ”Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”? No one, unless they were taking a class on the history of musical theater? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Grade: C-.
“Shake It Out” — Tina, Santana and Mercedes
As Sue Sylvester noted, the “Glee” choir room is indeed America’s No. 1 destination for cheap, sappy moralizing. And that’s what the “Cell Block” girls engaged in when they insisted on crooning this Florence + the Machines tune to Coach Beiste in order to lift her spirits.
Why were Brittany and Sugar even present if they were just going to sit there and not sing? Why, as shown via cutaway shots, did Beiste get back with Cooter even though she swore she wouldn’t? Why was I getting teary-eyed even though I was fully aware that “Glee” was basically ordering me to be moved? I know the answer to that last one, at least: because Dot-Marie Jones was weeping again. And I can’t stand to see a grown Beiste cry. Grade: B+.
“Cry” — Rachel
Look, I know Rachel’s intensity can be a bit over-the-top. But when she/Lea Michele really throws herself, full-bodied, into a wrenching song, it’s something to watch. And that’s what she did with this Kelly Clarkson track in which it became clear that our Miss Berry may not be destined for the white hot spotlight after all. (Well, let’s be real: she is. But she’s in a slump at the moment.) In any case, grade: A.