Choreographer Mandy Moore is — like many — lamenting the cancellation of NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” — the musical comedy about a young woman (Jane Levy) struggling with her ability to process people’s inner thoughts through pop songs — especially after a highly acclaimed second season that tackled pressing topics such as systemic racism, postpartum depression and the sticky nature of office politics.
Moore not only got dancing feet racing through tunes by Queen, Gwen Stefani and Sixpence None the Richer, but this year also marked her directorial debut in scripted television. (She also serves as a show producer.) The three-time Emmy winner chatted with TheWrap about her storied career, why The Big Night never gets old and how the creators of “Zoey” truly do constitute an EGOT.
Thank you so much for chatting. It’s probably a very bittersweet time for you right now.
Yeah, I think I’m still in shock and a little bit like, “what does that mean?” So, let’s talk about other things [laughs].
Sure thing. I counted a total of 25 episodes for Seasons 1 and 2, did you choreograph for every single one?
I did! On Episode 6 I brought in co-choreographer Luther Brown, for the systemic racism episode. And then Episode 11, that I directed, which I absolutely loved and cannot lie, I had my associate choreographer Jillian Meyers. But yeah, pretty much me.
So, going into Season 2, what did you want to further accomplish in your work?
I think anyone gets another chance to do something, you want to do it better, you want to know your characters better and you want to push the envelope with the storytelling. I knew in Season 2, I wanted to try to be more clever and push the boundary of how we get in and out of these dance numbers and how the audience can almost transition into Zoey’s [Jane Levy] perspective, but then go somewhere else from there, because obviously we don’t want to shoot the entire thing off her shoulder. We shot it in the pandemic, so there were some limitations. We wanted to have more locations, but because of the rules, a lot of things ended up being shot on stage. But what was so nice was the show’s opening of MaxiMo the restaurant. I love that space, and it was beautiful to work in.
Who are your choreographic mentors?
Jerome Robbins for me is the top. I just think his ability to storytelling through dance is incredible, as well as Marge and Gower Champion, Michael Kidd, Gene Kelly. I love the golden era of dance.
You’ve won three Emmys for three different TV programs (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars”). Does it feel different for each project?
Wow, thank you for reminding me. Winning an Emmy is unlike any experience I’ve ever felt. When I won my first Emmy for “Dancing with the Stars”, I’d been on that show for almost 11 seasons, so that was a really emotional win after several nominations. And then later the win for “Zoey’s” and to win for a scripted program, which is a world that I had not really been in, I really lived in the more variety life world for a long time. It was just great that the show was resonating with people.
Speaking of awards, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” appears to be an EGOT within its creators. You have the Emmys, Mary Steenburgen has the Oscar, Bernadette Peters has the Tony…
And [executive producer] Harvey Mason Jr. has Grammys! We have ‘em all!
If the Twitter angels and fans can save the show, what kind of dance styles and routines would you want to explore going forward?
I really want to explore more fusion styles. I would really love if we could get a number with somebody with a disability or in a wheelchair, I just would love to explore the beauty of that movement. I would really love to bring in other choreographers in, because I think it’s really important that people are represented in all different styles. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what you could do with dance on camera, so I’d love to get another shot at that.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is now available for streaming on Hulu and Peacock
Read original story What ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Choreographer Mandy Moore Would Love to See if There’s a 3rd Season At TheWrap