Sampling Psych: The Musical With Dulé Hill, James Roday, and Series Creator Steve Franks

By Drusilla Moorhouse

Dec 13, 2013

Pop those jerk chicken nachos in the microwave, Psych-Os, because the long-awaited Psych: The Musical finally premieres this Sunday.

For many of us, "long-awaited" is the understatement of the decade. (It's like saying Gus has room for seconds, or that Shawn likes Tears for Fears.) The tune-filled spectacular was filmed in October 2012, and was clearly intended to air before the second half Season 7. (The proof is in the catchy opening number.)

And as series creator Steve Franks told me when I visited that long ago and far away set, the musical was on his mind since Psych was just a baby. 

"We'd been talking about doing a musical since the last night of shooting the pilot—maybe even earlier than that. … Every year I would say, 'I'll go write a musical when we have free time.' And I never got free time because we always went right to the wire with our stories."

"It's taken a long, long time to write," recounted Franks, who—because he apparently doesn't sleep—penned not only the episode but all of its original songs... and then directed the two-hour extravaganza, too. 

"I think something magical and strange is happening here that is beyond my reach," he told me after a long day of filming on The Musical's stunning set-within-a-set: the Victorian-era Murder in Whitechapel stage where much of the action takes place. 

"I'm just letting it happen—I can't believe how good everybody's been."

Dulé Hill agreed: "It's surprised me how smooth it's gone," Hill said, although it certainly didn't hurt that the actor is a professional tap dancer who got his start on Broadway. Doing the dance stuff has been a blast." 

And what his co-stars lacked in experience, they more than made up for with enthusiasm.

"[James] Roday... surprisingly, in his own way, has the Roday way of approaching the dance moves," laughed Hill, adding that "seeing Roday and Tim [Omundson] dance has been a lot of fun."

When I asked Roday to rank the cast's hoofing-it skills, he admitted that he and Omundson tied for third after Hill and Maggie Lawson, respectively. 

"Tim and I are neck and neck, nose to nose, Thunder Dome-style, which is ironic because the two of us have to do good chunk of the dancing." (Which may or may not include an Argentine tango.) 

Franks, meanwhile, called the dancing "surprisingly passable." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but he noted that the production's "spectacular" choreographer, Paul Becker, "put together a lot of really great complicated things that James and Dulé and Tim and Maggie were forced to figure out how to do. They did really well with it. ... There is a fight sequence that if it doesn't suck once we cut it together is going to be one of the coolest things we've ever done," Franks said.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've seen the finished product, and it definitely doesn't suck. But what stands out most, of course, are the songs—featuring not only the regular cast (with one hilariously notable exception) but two returning fan-favorite guest stars. (Their duet will have you crying—from both laughter and grief.)

"All of the songs are original, which in today's day and age I think is a bit rare," noted Roday. "The zeitgeist is mostly offering up a lot of covers of other songs, between singing competition shows and Glee and Pitch Perfect. These shows are tapping into pop culture and what we hear on regular basis and putting their own spin on it." 

Roday compared Psych: The Musical to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's iconic musical episode "Once More With Feeling," whose music and lyrics were composed by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, "We sort of went old school," said Roday. "It was really important to Steve that the musical be stuffed with as much original material as possible. It's not just one song—Steve wrote the musical with eight original songs and reprises. For that reason alone it's pretty unique, and fans should be pumped. There's a reason we didn't spit this out too early. Steve had a very specific vision for this, and it just took seven years."

Franks said that executive story editor Carlos Jacott (who's guest-starred in and written a number of past Psych episodes) captured the spirit of Psych: The Musical best when said that the reason the musical works so well is that Psych in itself is a musical without the songs."It's all the stuff that happens in between the ridiculous songs. And we've just actually added the songs back in."

Trust me: After Sunday, you'll be playing those songs—including "Santa Barbara Skies," "I've Heard It Both Ways" and the cripplingly funny "Jamaican Inspector"—on repeat. 

The two-hour Psych: The Musical premieres Sunday, December 15 at 9pm on USA.

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  • TriniMysTic Dec 15, 2013

    Can't wait. *Shawn/Gus happy dance* :D

  • Placebo_obecalP Dec 15, 2013

    Really not looking forward to this, think it'll be as bad as some of the Christmas episodes Siffy made for Eureka/Warehouse which were audience insulting abominations.

  • Dan815 Dec 15, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • Placebo_obecalP Dec 15, 2013

    jackass? How exactly was that called for?

  • JT_Kirk Dec 14, 2013

    Why shooting that video portrait, Dru? Why does this still happen in this day and age? Smartphones have enough pixels to fix this, they need to always shoot landscape no matter the device's orientation.

    "Psych is just a musical without the songs", what? Uhh, how so?

    Wait, is that Dru's voice in the Dule and Roday's videos? And did someone decide to point a Ritter Fan at you during the Roday interview?

    Goodness, Roday talks like this all the time? He IS Shawn Spencer, Thunderdome style.

    Between Family Guy, Buffy, Scrubs, Futurama, and now Psych, there's a lot of fan-fav shows that are secret musicals. Where's our Burn Notice musical episode?

    Thanks for the inside look, I'm going to watch this episode until my eyes bleed.

  • Dru Dec 15, 2013

    HA! The Steve Franks interview was actually the first time I used my iPhone video function--my digital camera died during the Roday interview (the "Ritter Fan" marked its last breaths). I was actually just going to use audio for Steve but he suggested the iPhone. (Maybe because I have a Psych camera case?)

  • JT_Kirk Dec 15, 2013

    Sorry to hear that about the digital camera dying, that's a huge bummer especially during something like this where you go way out of your way to cover it.

    Since your iphone case is the same as Shawn's, I'll allow it, just this once. X-D Steve Franks is a wise man.

  • HakonDWrsch Dec 14, 2013

    I hate "muscial" episodes of pretty much any always feels just dum and very out of place...

  • Placebo_obecalP Dec 15, 2013

    The Buffy one was incredible, and I don't like any kind of music but that episode blew me away, really doubt the Psych one will be up to that standard, but we'll see :)

  • dodge_hickey Dec 14, 2013

    Been waiting years for this one! I am a Psycho for this show.

  • smorbie Dec 14, 2013

    Today has been a rough day, but I am so psyched for psych the musical. I love psych!!!!!!!

  • claudia40 Dec 14, 2013

    It certainly puts a smile on any Psych lovers face...well mine at-least ;0)

  • caesteckered Dec 14, 2013

    HERE FOR THIS. I still wish Dulé Hill had a chance to show off his dance moves when he was on The West Wing.

  • layle1 Dec 14, 2013

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  • Dru Dec 14, 2013

    You misunderstood me ("The tune-filled spectacular was filmed in October 2012, and was clearly intended to air before the second half Season 7"). I *was* referring to last season. You'll see my point in Sunday night's show, in which several characters make comments about Juliet's belief in Shawn's psychic abilities.

  • DavidJackson8 Dec 13, 2013

    I remember a few months ago, I thought mid-December couldn't come fast enough. Now that it's here... hooray! Can't wait. I love that I'll be getting some Psych between the seasons.

  • CiaraGlynn Dec 13, 2013

    Excuse the over-used pun but I am PSYCHED. He was teasing the musical episode since before season 6 (before he realized, if I remember correctly, how much it would take to make it work and decided to leave it until season 7 so they had more time), so technically we've been waiting two years and a little bit more but who cares? Two years. Who's been couting? And a few months extra. NO BIG.
    I just wish season 8 wasn't it's last. *ponders existence post-Psych*