If you haven’t watched Netflix’s Julie and The Phantoms yet, then not only are you missing out on a brand new show but you’re also missing out on an entire season of incredible songs, performances, and choreography.
Julie and The Phantoms follows High schooler Julie (Madison Reyes), who lost her passion for music after her mom died last year. But when the ghosts of three dreamy musicians (Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada) from 1995 suddenly appear in her mom’s old music studio, Julie feels her own inner spirit beginning to reawaken, and she’s inspired to start singing and writing songs again. As their friendship with Julie grows, the boys convince her to create a new band together: Julie and The Phantoms.
We caught up with Madison, Charlie, Owen, Jeremy, and Julie and The Phantoms choreographer Paul Becker to ask them about everything from their favorite performances to what it’s like being a ghost!
Showstopper Magazine Online: What is your favorite performance from the show?
Owen Patrick Joiner: My favorite performance from the show is either “Wake Up,” or “The Other Side of Hollywood.” I remember coming on set for “Wake Up” and it was one of the first solo shots Madison was going to do. When I walked up, everyone was silent watching her do her thing. That was kind of magical. Also “The Other Side of Hollywood” because it was the first thing that we ever shot, and getting to sit at a table and watch Cheyenne Jackson (Caleb) perform for you is really cool.
Madison Reyes: My favorite song in the show would be “Now or Never.” I remember watching the guys perform that show when it was just the four of us in boot camp and it always got me so excited.
Charlie Gillespie: I can’t choose. There’s a special story in every number for me.
Jeremy Shada: My favorite performance from the show is probably “Now or Never.” It was the first song that me, Charlie, and Owen performed in the show. I love the 90s rock vibe in Sunset Curve, and the performance felt so real. Everything from the immense heat coming off the old-style lights to the pyrotechnics that pop off in the last chorus and the insane amount of real sweat. (I’m in a leather jacket, so I was burning up). It had such a high energy to it, and it really set the tone for everything afterwards.
Paul Becker: My favorite dance performance of the show has to be “The Other Side of Hollywood.” On camera, it is rare that I get to have fun with some stylized jazz movement, so this number was a dream to build simply for that reason.
SMO: How does the fact that the ghosts can’t touch living people affect the way the performances are created?
Owen: Performances are actually easier than regular scenes since we only have to honestly react to the crowd while we are stuck behind our own instruments. I’m assuming it is a little more difficult for Madison and Charlie since they have so much interaction. The regular scenes are tough because we’re always second-guessing what we can and can’t do as ghosts. Sometimes we’re stuck doing a scene by just standing there, unable to interact with anything around us.
Madison: I don’t think it affects the performance. What surprises the fans so much is that the fact that they aren’t “real” and can’t touch but have so much chemistry. They still have a connection on stage even with this physical restriction.
Charlie: It’s hard because we can’t crowd surf–which I’m still trying to land that with the writers. We get to add different things into the performances like walking through each other.
Jeremy: It basically means you have to go against the natural instinct to physically interact with objects and people. It can be challenging at times, but it also forces you to creatively get emotions across with just facial expression and inner emotion. In a weird way, it feels like we explode with energy once our music performances come around because we can pick up instruments and finally be seen by people and build off of their energy.
Paul: Every project I take on comes with a challenge. This was a very fun challenge to play with. It did eliminate all lifts and partner dancing, but it allowed us to try things we never get to explore, like poofing them in and out or having them pass through people. One of my favorite moments in “The Other Side of Hollywood” was having the dancers appear from out of table cloths.
SMO: Madison, what is it like being the only living member of the band?
Madison: It can be a little much to handle sometimes, especially when I have to keep the true a secret from my family.
SMO: Paul, what was the biggest challenge choreographing for the show?
Paul: The biggest challenge in choreographing Julie and The Phantoms is rehearsal time. We rarely get the actors for much time prior to shooting a dance number. That is why we build each number with a skeleton crew prior to rehearsal and shooting.
SMO: What cast member gets the most into performance scenes?
Owen: We all get excited because we put so much work into the songs from recording the vocals to learning it on our instruments. Once we get the chance to “perform” them, even if it is for a crowd of extras, it’s pretty exciting.
Madison: I think we equally give the most to the performances. We are performing songs over and over again at many different angles, but we’re still giving our all to each performance.
Charlie: We usually do this little band circle to hype each other up before the performances. It’s like some ghost would take over Jeremy’s body and start rocking. He just doesn’t stop in any song – go back and watch it. Trust me, you’ll feel like you just ran a mile watching him.
Jeremy: I feel like everyone gets into the performances. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I love the performance scenes and they’re some of my favorites. Sooooo, maybe me?
Paul: That is a tough question. I would say Charlie is a bundle of energy. You can always count on him to work hard and give his all.
SMO: What performance number was the hardest to film?
Owen: “Now or Never” was tough because of those lights. I think they legitimately kept them from the 90s. They were so incredibly hot that Kenny thought hair and makeup had put too much fake sweat on us and asked to take it off until he realized that it was all real.
Madison: I think emotionally the hardest performance to film was “Stand Tall.” For me, that was my last performance of the season and we were also a week away from being completely done for filming and it was such an emotional week.
Charlie: My dance background was minimal. The only recognition I ever got by dancing was doing the worm at a party and winning a stuffed teddy. The most challenging dance for me was “Perfect Harmony.” We had an insanely talented dance team that helped me every step along the way.
Jeremy: I feel like we were always rushing against a clock to get in every shot for the performance scenes, and “Nothing To Lose” was a prime example of that. We weren’t even sure if we were gonna do it at all because the sequence almost got cut for time. But then on set, we were at the end of the shoot, way over time, and Kenny was like, “We’re doing it!” He said we’d get one shot of our solos at least and then he just kinda kept rolling and in like two takes we ended up shooting the whole song!
Paul: “The Other Side of Hollywood” was the most challenging to film. There were so many elements to it, from flying dancers to Cheyenne Jackson floating in to thirty plus dancers in various sections. There were so many set ups, and it took five days to film.
SMO: Phantoms, was it hard to act like you weren’t enjoying playing in the Hollywood Ghost Club?
Owen: Being on stage with Cheyenne was a bucket list item. I remember one of the notes on the first take from Kenny was to make sure I “stay concerned” through the whole number. Even though I followed the note, it was hard not to smile.
Charlie: Maybe yes, but only because he put us in sweet clothes and let us shred. Caleb is a legend when he performs. Julie would still be my pick though.
Jeremy: YES! The Hollywood Ghost Club is so fun to shoot in. The stage and the costumes and the set design is awesome. Plus Cheyenne Jackson is such a nice guy and a phenomenal performer. It’s hard to act like we’re not loving every second of it.
SMO: If Julie and The Phantoms could perform anywhere, where would you want them to take the stage?
Owen: I’ve heard that Brazil has some INSANE arenas, so that’s where I think I’d like to perform with Julie and The Phantoms.
Madison: The Barclays Center in New York where I lived ten years of my life. My dad actually worked there, so to be able to perform there would be so cool. The PPL Center out here in Pennsylvania.
Charlie: I want do the “EYYY OOO” chant that Freddy Mercury would do with Queen. It can be anywhere, as long as the phantoms can show up and rock out.
Jeremy: I would say Brazil! The fans there have been so enthusiastic and have really accepted our version of the show, and we’re so thankful for that!
Paul: I would want to see them start the tour in the Hollywood Bowl. In the original script, that was their destination. Then it changed to the Orpheum.
SMO: What is your favorite performance look?
Owen: Me and the boy’s costumes don’t change too much throughout the show. I loved the look I had in “You Got Nothing to Lose” and “Stand Tall.” Our costume designer Soyon [An] seriously went above and beyond for those numbers. The white shirt that I had on underneath the pink jacket was a women’s Valentino blouse that she had cut apart and recreated what you see in the show.
Madison: My favorite performance look was “Edge of Great.” I love butterflies, and that outfit really felt like something I’d wear.
Charlie: The “Now or Never” cut-off Rush T-shirt.
Jeremy: My favorite performance look in the show is definitely the custom leather jacket. It’s the classic rockstar look and I love it!
Paul: My favorite performance looks were in “I Got the Music.” Julie had so many fun outfits that we could incorporate into the musical number. It was all so colorful.
SMO: What do you think the role of performance and music is in developing character relationships throughout the show?
Owen: I think music is another love language, most importantly for Charlie and Madison’s characters. Every time they play together there seems to be at least one moment of just pure chemistry that really allows the viewer to fall in love with their relationship.
Madison: The music in the show helped us see the band grow as they continue to get closer throughout. “Wake Up” is Julie realizing that she needs to get into music again. “I Got The Music” is seeing that she has finally got the music back, and “Great” is when we see that she has finally grown into the person she is meant to be.
Charlie: Every song has a strong value to what the characters are going through. They’re not your typical musical track. They’re more shaped as songs you might hear on the radio. They still help us move the scenes forward, which I love. Some of them have great life lessons that our characters can hold to their chests when they need a lift and some are groovy dance jams that are there to rock out.
Jeremy: It’s a huge part of the show. I think we do such a great job of having the most important story elements come through the music sequences instead of just having random songs. It feels like the characters are the most honest versions [of themselves] when they’re performing on stage.
Paul: Choreography is storytelling. As choreographers, Kenny and I and our team, Tori Caro and Louise Hradsky, were there to develop and build and structure every moment in the series where there was music. As a choreographer, we find moments to tell stories within a number. That is our number one job. Dance steps are secondary. With that, characters are further developed.
Julie and The Phantoms Season 1 is available to stream now on Netflix. The soundtrack is also available now on all major music streaming platforms.