The cast and creator of ABC's Grey's Anatomy went from the fictional hospital of Seattle Grace to the stage at UCLA's Royce Hall on Sunday, staging a live benefit concert for the Actors Fund.
Featuring cast members Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Kevin McKidd, Justin Chambers, Jessica Capshaw, James Pickens Jr., Sarah Drew, Kim Raver, Sandra Oh and Eric Dane, the two-hour, nearly sold-out event featured 11 songs, including tracks from its March 2011 musical episode "Song Beneath the Song."
During the light-hearted show, a spirited Oh (Cristina) acted as a de-facto emcee and introduced segments of the evening that served to shed light on how the medical drama came to feature a musical episode as well as how music serves as a character on the Shonda Rhimes show.
"In the end, it was the iTunes revenue that pushed the ABC suits over the top," McKidd (Owen) joked, leading into a cover of "How We Operate," a track he performed in an audition of sorts pitching the musical episode's concept.
Highlights included Capshaw (Arizona) and Raver (Teddy) introducing a clip taking viewers back to Izzie and Denny's dramatic scene in the season two finale that played first without music, and later, as an example of what not to do, backed by Darth Vader's theme from Star Wars. Ultimately, that's where the drama opted to use Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," which has become one of the series' signature moments.
Co-star Dane (Mark), meanwhile, provided a comedic injection, taking nearly every opportunity he could to make a play to sing during the fund-raiser. (Neither he nor Oh performed.)
Acknowledging that the musical endeavor wasn't exactly a critical (and sometimes fan) favorite, the cast took turns reading feedback about the episode that was both positive and negative in a playful round that culminated with Pickens (Richard) suggesting the series make a second attempt at a musical episode -- in season 13.
Grey's music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, meanwhile, explained that music is treated as if it's another character on the series, noting she's tasked with combing clubs and the Internet for up-and-coming artists, sometimes reviewing as many as 500 CDs a week. (FIve-hundred and one if you count the one Dane pitched Sunday, she noted with a laugh.)
"Shonda wanted young, fresh and untried performers," she said, something that matched the careers of the doctors depicted on the series -- whose careers could change in an instant after just one Thursday night airing.
Speaking to the power that having a song placed in an episode of Grey's has, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson performed "Keep Breathing," revealing that she was first discovered by a music-licensing company with ties to the series on MySpace.
"I felt a shift in my life at that moment," she said of hearing her song -- which was stretched in the editing process to six minutes -- during Grey's season three finale.
Following Ramirez's chill-inducing rendition of Brandi Carlile's "The Story," Rhimes took to the stage and encouraged attendees to support the artists who help make the entertainment they most enjoy.
"The fans make it possible for us to be the lucky ones," she said, encouraging concertgoers to support the Actors Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides care and services to entertainment industry professionals. "I believe in the joy I get from watching TV, film and theater, and a $25 donation to the Actors Fund would be saying you believe in the arts, too."
Tickets to the event ranged from $55to $250; Sunday's event raised $100,000 for the Actors Fund.
Check out a full set list below.
1. "Chasing Cars," performed by Sara Ramirez, Kevin McKidd, Chandra Wilson
2. "How We Operate," performed by McKidd
3. "There's a Girl," performed by Sarah Drew
4. "Wait," performed by Wilson, Drew
5. "Running on Sunshine," performed by James Pickens Jr. Justin Chambers, McKidd, Ramirez, Kim Raver, Jessica Capshaw, Drew, Wilson
6. "Young Folks," performed by Chambers and his three daughters
7. "Everywhere I Go," performed by Wilson
8. "Keep Breathing," performed by Ingrid Michaelson
9. "Looking at the World From a Bottom of a Well," performed by McKidd
10. "The Story," Ramirez
11. "How to Save a Life," all attending (sans Oh, Dane)
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. For more details on the Actors Fund, visit their website.