Get ready fans of Freeform’s The Fosters, and buckle up because you’ve never seen anything quite like Monday night’s episode, “The Show.” The curtain will raise on Brandon’s Romeo and Juliet-inspired rock musical, R&J, which features 12 original songs, and many members of the cast will be experiencing their own tales of love and woe during the episode. Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), who plays Juliet, will be forced to confront her feelings for ex-boyfriend Mat (Jordan Rodrigues), while Brandon (David Lambert) and Callie (Maia Mitchell) deal with lingering feelings they may still hold for each other.
Below, star Ramirez and co-creator Bradley Bredeweg (who also co-wrote and directed the episode) spoke with The TV Junkies about the challenges of pulling off such a large production in such a short time period. Ramirez also reveals why Mariana still has feelings for Mat, despite her new relationship with Nick (Louis Hunter).
The TV Junkies: This is much bigger than any other episode of The Fosters we’ve seen. What challenges were involved in making something of this caliber?
Bradley Bredeweg: We have seven days per episode to shoot, no matter what the case. We still only had seven days on our big musical episode, so that was a challenge in and of itself. We had to deliver 12 musical numbers, and Brad Hooks, who does all Brandon’s piano music and Brandon’s band music, came on board and day after day delivered a new song in a very short amount of time. We only had a few days to rehearse every number and get our entire cast “musical ready.” Then to jump in and shoot that epic of an episode in that amount of time–we were just gunning and running–the entire crew came together so beautifully. It just magically happened and felt a little kismet–like it was meant to be–because things just seemed to fall into place. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard work and really difficult work, but it was amazing to sit back and watch everyone come together and put their best foot forward.
TTVJ: With so many Romeo and Juliet parallels on the show, was there ever any doubt as to which musical you’d tackle?
BB: It’s funny because I actually did a version of Romeo & Juliet here in Los Angeles–a kind of pop, 80s music, rock opera version of the show–this time last year. I had tried it and fell in love with the process and juxtaposing those two genres together. So when it came time to start breaking Season 3B, we realized we had to come up with an idea for Brandon’s senior thesis project. When we started looking at all of our love stories–especially our teenage love stories–and all of the triangles we had created, it seemed to be a natural fit to take something I had already tried on stage here in L.A. and incorporate it into the show. Even though we knew it would be a challenge to erect this giant musical episode within our season, we went for it, and I’m so glad that we did.
TTVJ: Cierra, how does the experience in this episode compare to the one Mariana had last season with her big dance performance?
Cierra Ramirez: It’s crazy the things that this girl gets into. [laughs] This was that experience but on steroids. I got the opportunity to work with Chris Downey again, who choreographs everything you see on the show. I’ve always been familiar with Brad Hooks, he does all Brandon’s original music, but I’ve never had the opportunity to work with him. Mixing those two worlds and coming out with this whole process has been amazing to me. I kind of had to jump into it, but it’s been such a huge blessing and I’m so excited to see how it all turns out.
TTVJ: Throughout this production Mariana is very torn over her feelings for Mat, despite being in a seemingly happy relationship with Nick. Why does Mariana still feel that pull towards Mat?
CR: She never really had closure from the whole Mat situation. She obviously made a mistake and messed up, but she’s never moved on from it. She learned from it, but I don’t think her feelings for Mat will ever really go away. It definitely came back into her life having to play these roles where they are so in love, and Brandon saying ‘You guys need to act like you love each other.’ It’s hard when he doesn’t forgive her, but there’s obviously an undeniable attraction between them regardless.
TTVJ: After having done this, can we expect a musical episode every year? Is this something you’d like to do again?
BB: Oh God no! [laughs] I’m so grateful that we did it and we really, truly had a blast and we’re very proud of it. But it was a tough thing to tackle. I think you get one of these. It’s a very special episode and it feels like a Fosters episode, and I’m very proud that we were able to incorporate that all into our penultimate Season 3B episode.
TTVJ: Elsewhere, while the musical is going on, Stef (Teri Polo) gets pulled into a complicated domestic violence call. Can you preview anything about that storyline?
BB: It is a foster care storyline, and it has been discussed on Twitter at length, that the house she goes into is the home in which we found Callie and Jude in the pilot. So I will tell you that we do go back into that world and that environment, and it’s a big part of that storyline.
Are you excited for The Fosters’ musical? What are you most looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below!
The Fosters airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform and ABC Spark.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.