Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz on ‘Showmance,’ ‘Glee,’ and TodayTix Presents
The unofficial tagline of Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowtiz’s podcast “Showmance” is: The “Glee” reunion you never asked for. While its been 10 years since the series premiered, fans have been asking for a reboot, so McHale and Ushkowitz, who played Artie and Tina on the series, went rogue, so to speak.
It all started when their friend and fellow “Glee” star Becca Tobin asked them if they wanted to start a podcast. Tobin’s podcast “Lady Gang,” with Jac Vanek and Keltie Knight, generated so much success that they were building their own channel with Podcast One, and they wanted their friends to be a part of it.
“We’ve been talking about this for years and people are like, ‘Why don’t you guys work together again? Why don’t you have some sort of show together?’ So this felt like really the right time and place to do it,” Ushkowitz said.
So “Showmance” was born. McHale and Ushkowitz talk among themselves and also invite guests to discuss theirs and other showmances, i.e. a relationship or friendship that started working together on a show. On August 15, the friends will be bringing their podcast to the stage with special guest Andi Dorfman of “Bachelorette” fame, as part of TodayTix Presents.
Find out more about their “Glee” memories, their favorite showmances, and why they love podcasting.
What are you looking forward to about doing a live show? What can audiences expect?
Kevin: I think Jenna and I thrive in front of a live audience. We love the immediate feedback. I think it will be fun too, because the show really is just two friends talking about whatever we want and our friendship and things we like and don’t like. And I think it will be nice to be in front of people and get some of that laughter and instant gratification and hear from them and talk about what they want to talk about, because we’re approachable. We’re not mean, terrible people. The show is about community and friendship, and it’s going to be nice to be able to share that with people who do listen to the podcast.
Most people know you from “Glee,” which was such a trailblazer for theater on TV. How did it feel to be at the forefront?
Kevin: Musicals and music storytelling have been a big part of our lives forever. Jenna was on Broadway at the age of what eight or something like that. So we didn’t realize it’d be successful. But now looking back at it, the fact that it could sort of piggyback on “High School Musical” and then you have things years before, like “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge,” where there was this hunger for musicals and it was nice that people gave it a chance. And I think the show was successful because people wanted it. And yeah, I think it is nice to be able to be a part of something that we actually cared about beforehand going into it.
Jenna: “Don’t Stop Believing” was a song from the ‘80s and a really popular song from the 80s, which we knew, but the generations that were watching “Glee” didn’t know that. So to introduce it to them in a different way and see that the original “Don’t Stop” was also back on the charts is a really cool way to bring that music to them.
Do you have favorite covers or favorite songs that you got to do during your time on “Glee”?
Jenna: Ryan [Murphy] was really great in giving us artists that he knew we personally really liked, so I got to do a lot of Florence + the Machine. I got to do a lot of Lady Gaga. I got to do a lot of Katy Perry. I got to do a lot of the pop artists that I really admired at the time, so I felt really lucky to do the songs and the artists that I really admired and respected.
Kevin: I feel like Ryan had a good knack of picking something for my voice or style of music that I never would imagine myself singing. My first solo was “Dancing with Myself” but an acoustic version, then I did “Never Going Back Again” which is acoustic song. I got to do “Isn’t She Lovely” with acoustic guitar. So I got to do these really nice, beautiful, stripped-down versions of these really wonderful songs which was special.
Since the podcast is about showmances, what are some of your favorite showmances?
Jenna: On a bigger scale, like when I was a kid growing up, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were one of my favorite Mickey Mouse Club showmances. Another showmance that we love also is Brad Falchuck and Gwyneth Paltrow because, you know, “Glee” and stuff.
Kevin: Oh yeah! I think the wonderful thing about the show is it is crazy to see how many people do become friends or get into relationships because of working together. And I think through the show, we’ve been able to meet many people who were like, “Oh, I didn’t even realize that we had a showmance.” Obviously you know about really famous ones like Brad and Angelina, but it’s been fun to get to see the inside variations of that.
What are some of the most unexpected showmances you’ve come across doing the show?
Jenna: The one we recently loved the most was Brad Goreski and Tanya Rad. We just loved that one.
Kevin: I mean a personal favorite for obvious reasons from doing “Glee,” Harry Shum Jr. and his wife Shelby are just the cutest, most adorable couple ever.
Jenna: And they met shooting a commercial.
Kevin: It’s crazy that they met working together, because I can’t ever imagine one of them without the other person. They’re just the definition of the most perfect showmance.
Jenna: And the other one that we love, love, loved was Addison Timlin and Jeremy Allen White [from “Shameless”].
Kevin: That’s the best showmance ever because they’ve had this beautifully romantic relationship since high school, where it was almost like they were star-crossed lovers in a weird way. They were almost the ones that got away from one another.
Jenna: Numerous times.
Kevin: It’s just they’re so perfect and wonderful, and hearing their story, we were just on the verge of tears the whole time. It was beautiful.
You also take fan questions on the show. How did that come about?Jenna: Yeah, so it started because Kevin and I are professional wedding guests. We started giving wedding advice, which is ironic because neither of us are married nor are either of us planning a wedding. But we really loved it and so it was very exciting and fun. But now we’ve kind of branched out to Q&A about Kevin and I because fans have been asking all these questions.
What have been some of your favorite fan questions?
Kevin: I really love when people really go for it with the wedding questions where they have some very specific ones. They’re like, “I hate what my mom’s wearing to the wedding and it’s my sister’s wedding, what do I do?” Or like, “my sister chose this really awful dress.”
How has it been to connect with “Glee” fans again through the podcast?Jenna: It’s been really fun for us to go back and reminisce about the “Glee” memories that we had since it’s been ten years since the pilot aired. We’re so grateful that people are tuning in and that “Glee” fans are spreading the word, and we’re getting new listeners as well.
Are you introducing new listeners to “Glee”?
Jenna: I feel like by proxy they are doing that. I also feel like there’s new generations that were too young when “Glee” was out, so they’re going back on Netflix and being able
Would you ever work together on another project outside of the podcast?
Kevin: Hell yeah! I always say I want to put in every contract I have that Jenna has to be a part of it somehow.