A scene from "Song Beneath the Song," the "Grey's… (ABC )
Doctors singing during surgery and harmonizing through foreplay made last year's musical episode of "Grey's Anatomy" one of the most memorable in the series' nearly eight-season run. Some critics panned the ABC doctor drama's attempt to go "Glee," but the cast showed musical talent behind those surgical masks.
To show that the episode was no fluke, about a dozen of the doctors from Seattle Grace Hospital will take the stage at UCLA's Royce Hall on Sunday to perform select songs from the episode and other memorable tunes from the "Grey's" songbook. The concert will benefit the Actors Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides financial and social services to entertainment industry professionals, and will feature cast members such as Justin Chambers, Sarah Drew, Eric Dane, Sandra Oh and Sara Ramirez.
"We figured out who could sing and what musical talent we had, and I think we all got a little bit of the bug," said creator Shonda Rhimes. "For us, it's a rare time to see our cast get up on stage and to raise some money and do some good."
"When we shot the show last year that was the first time I sang [onscreen]," said Chambers, who has starred as the womanizing Dr. Alex Karev since 2005. "I'm not Mr. Jazz-Hands or Mr. Broadway, but sometimes it just feels good to sing a monologue. And that's what this show is."
"Grey's Anatomy: The Songs Beneath the Show" is expected to raise as much as $150,000 for the Actors Fund, "Which is huge for us," said Meg Thomas, manager of special events at the organization.
This isn't the first time Rhimes and crew have staged a fundraiser for the organization. "'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Private Practice' did a benefit concert [in 2008] during the writers strike," Rhimes said.
Ramirez, who won a Tony in 2005 for her role in the musical "Spamalot" and sang for much of the "Grey's" musical episode, inspired the onstage sequel.
"We had a small event for the Actors Fund in November and Sara was there, and it was her idea to re-create the musical episode," said Thomas. "A lot of the 'Grey's' people, like Sara, have a Broadway background."
Drew, who made her Broadway debut in 2003 with "Vincent in Brixton," was quick to volunteer. "I grew up in musical theater, and I haven't been onstage in several years since I moved into TV land," said Drew, who plays Dr. April Kepner, adding that she'll be singing "There's a Girl" by the Ditty Bops and possibly Anna Nalick's "Breathe."
"We're still adjusting the song list," Rhimes said last week. "We want songs that people will remember."
The musical episode from March 2011 focused on a near-fatal car crash that caused Dr. Callie Torres (Ramirez) to have a musical out-of-body experience. During a series of surgeries the cast covered songs from previous episodes, including Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," the aptly titled "How We Operate" by Gomez and a rather stripped-down take on Jesus Jackson's "Running on Sunshine," which featured Chambers alongside his costars in their skivvies.
"Would 'Grey's' have it any other way?" laughed Chambers, who sang and danced this way through the tune in a tank top and sweats.
The staged version will be a much more family-friendly affair. Three of Chambers' children will join him on stage for a rendition of Peter Bjorn and John's 2006 hit "Young Folks." "It's a duet between me and my daughter," Chambers said. "My other daughter is going to play the guitar, and we're going to whistle."
"Grey's" is known for introducing TV audiences to indie pop and rock artists. The Season 2 finale that prominently featured Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" helped the Irish band crack America, and an appearance on the show's soundtrack also boosted profiles for artists such as the Fray and songstress Ingrid Michaelson, who will also be performing Sunday.
"The soundtracks have been a part of the success of the show," Chambers said. "Young talent and untapped talent really make the scene more dramatic."
Though the musical episode had an effect on everyone involved, Rhimes advises fans not to look for a sequel — at least on television. "If you want to see the cast sing, this will be the way," she said.
'Grey's Anatomy: The Songs Beneath the Show'
Where: Royce Hall UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, L.A.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday.
Price: Tickets start at $55.