The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 04, 2021 1:00 am

Peacock's 'Girls5eva' brings band together

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

In “Girls5eva,” a band is getting back together.

The band in question in the Peacock musical-comedy – premiering all of its episodes Thursday – is a 1990s girl group for whom the reunion proves hugely challenging, given the women's current circumstances. With Tina Fey an executive producer along with series creator Meredith Scardino, the show stars Grammy winner Sara Bareilles, Tony recipient Renee Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps as the artists bent on proving their earlier fame wasn't a fluke.

As Bareilles tackles her first continuing acting role, “This series is like a dream fantasy,” she says. “It's comedy and music and female empowerment and stories about women, slightly heightened but based in reality.” With her composing and performing experience, Bareilles notes that Destiny's Child has been the standout female group for her.

Scardino explains that in developing “Girls5eva,” her intent was “to write a show about women in my age group, and to be able to talk about all the things that you go through as being a woman in your 40s. And it kind of came to me that it would be amazing to do it with this backdrop of pop music and trying again, as a metaphor for trying at this stage when you might be sitting back at life or getting cozy and comfortable. Putting it all up against the crazy world of the pop star world felt like a very fertile duet.”

The concept was pitched by Scardino to “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” alum Fey and the latter's longtime production partner, Robert Carlock. “Worst-case scenario, if (the chosen actors) don't really sing, we could fake it,” Fey recalls thinking. “We started the process with taking a wild run at Sara. I had seen her in (Broadway's) 'Waitress,' and I knew she was going to sound amazing, but I thought she was just such a warm and present actress.

“And once we had her,” Fey adds, “we were like, 'Do we try Renee?' And then we were like, 'We're hitting the jackpot. Let's shoot for people who can all sing for real.' ” However, Philipps admits that in her case, “It's probably going to be just the note that the person next to me is singing.”

Bareilles says her run in “Waitress,” for which she also composed the Tony Award-nominated score, “oddly prepared me in ways I never imagined, and definitely (for) the rigors of a TV schedule. I have to say getting up at 4 in the morning on a regular basis is not my favorite thing, but people who are a part of the theater understand that, and certainly the stamina of that.”

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