Glee is a musical. Most precisely, it’s a musical comedy, although one with very dark moments. And one of the earmarks of a musical comedy is that it is often cartoonlike, even surreal. I mean, people burst into song almost randomly, sometimes to instant bands. Or with dance routines.
Glee, especially in McKinley, is very surreal. Everything is bright colors and sharp contrast. You can almost see the black lines around the characters. Who really are two dimensional caricatures, extreme versions of various types. It’s typical of musicals and part of the fun.
Even the New York setting is a little much. They live in a huge loft, they are in their dream schools or getting their dream jobs – or both. They have great clothes and hair and, despite being underage, have no problems getting drinks, and very little money problems unless that episode’s plot calls for it. But it’s Glee, so who cares?
And then in walks Starchild. And he looks as surreal as Blaine and his bowtie in his steam punk suit and heavy makeup. The first thing he does, though, is hand music to the band. THEN he launches into “Marry the Night.”
Starchild fits into the over-the-top cartoon world of the musical. He’s a caricature of the over-eager, but still somewhat arrogant diva.
Thing is, Starchild doesn’t really exist. He’s a creation of Elliott Gilbert, an NYU student from NJ with Adam Lambert’s voice. And face.
Ahem. Anyway, Elliott isn’t a caricature. He’s a hardworking, sweet, talented guy who just wants to be part of a band. He likes Kurt, but isn’t interested in more than friendship. He likes Rachel and Santana, too, but isn’t willing to be part of the drama. He’s not in high school, he’s not trying to be popular and he doesn’t care about old feuds or cliques.
He also plays several instruments, sews and likes to cook curry, and is short on money. He also prefers cinnamon buns to cucumber sandwiches. He’s a person, not a cartoon.
Even his songs-they start with sheet music or he asks if someone knows it or it’s clearly a rehearsal or a performance. It’s never just random. The one exception is “The Fox,” and that’s just odd. He does songs like he’s living in the real world, not in a musical comedy. He also sings a lot of rock songs, but look who he sings like.
He lives like a real person, he sings like a real person, he reacts like a real person. In fact, like an adult who assumes his friends are also adults. No one on Glee does that, except one set of parents. He feels like a breath of sane air, a window into a more logical world.
I don’t know why this happened. Elliott could have been a musical comedy character. It’s not like Adam Lambert hasn’t played such roles before. Even that Elliott shared more than a voice, a face and a wardrobe isn’t enough. Adam’s a pretty OTT guy himself.
Maybe it’s that Adam demonstrated a natural acting style that made a real person feasible. I don’t know. I do know I’ll miss him as much for his calm center as for his amazing singing.