Lea Michele celebrates the season with holiday movie, Christmas album
Since she has both a new album and a new TV movie that celebrate Christmas, Lea Michele surely is in a seasonal frame of mind.
Filming in Hawaii held much allure for the "Glee" and "Scream Queens" alum as she made "Same Time, Next Christmas," which ABC debuts Thursday, Dec. 5. Echoing the late Bernard Slade's play "Same Time, Next Year," the tale casts Michele as a woman who's reunited with her childhood love (Charles Michael Davis) in the islands during a family vacation at the holidays. Their timing is still "off," though, a problem that goes on to plague them even more despite their obvious sparks. Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") and George Newbern ("Scandal") play her character's parents in the picture directed by Stephen Herek ("Mr. Holland's Opus").
Though she appeared in "New Year's Eve" and the "Glee" concert movie, "Same Time, Next Christmas" marks Michele's first starring movie role. "It's such an awesome opportunity," the pleasant performer says. "Initially, I was so romanced by the thought of doing a movie in Hawaii for a month, I didn't really process the fact that it would be on my shoulders ... but I think we put together something enjoyable and wonderful.
"Sort of the routine that I've had for the past couple of years," Michele explains, "is that I'll take a few months to a year to focus primarily on music, then the next year will be acting, then the year after that will be back to music. It's always a bit of a process for me to get the muscles moving again, though every 'Glee' episode was like a movie in and of itself. So much was required, I really felt up to the task with this film. And it was wonderful to be acting again."
Making "Same Time, Next Christmas" followed Michele's recording of "Christmas in the City," which also features vocals by her "Glee" colleague Darren Criss, her Broadway "Spring Awakening" co-star Jonathan Groff and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo (lately of the movie "Harriet"). Michele also co-wrote a new tune for the album, comprised otherwise of seasonal classics. "It's going to be like a 10-month Christmas for me by the time we actually get to the holiday," she muses, also factoring in several mid-December concerts she'll stage in New York (plus her appearance on NBC's "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" Wednesday, Dec. 4).
Now married to clothing-company chief Zandy Reich, Michele reflects, "'It's always been my dream to make a holiday record, and to pair it with this great film and end the year with these concerts, it's a wonderful time in my life and in my career. I feel really grateful."
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"Same Time, Next Christmas"
Premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, on ABC