‘Glee’king Out

Senior cast as ‘Warbler’ on hit TV show

On a Tuesday morning in September, senior Jake Landgrebe fumbles for his ID at the gates of Paramount Pictures Studios. After the guard buzzes him in and hands him a ticket, Landgrebe enters a lot currently filming shows such as “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “Dr. Phil” and “Glee.”

Cast as a “Warbler”—a member of fictional Dalton Academy’s a capella glee club—Landgrebe frequently flies to LA to rehearse and film scenes for Season 6, Episodes 1, 2 and 5 of the tv series “Glee.” Season 6 is set to air in early 2015.

Jeremy Finney, lead choreographer for professional performance group TigerStyle! has trained Landgrebe for a number of years, and advocates Landgrebe’s ability to work in time-sensitive, professional environments.

“I don’t think there are too many dancers out there—not even in his age range—just dancers just out there, period, who can pick up choreography and perform it at such a high level as quickly as Jake does,” Finney said. “… Jake has a knack for getting the choreography and keeping it in context of what the choreographer wants, as well as adding in his own artistic manipulations to the movements.”

A week before Landgrebe’s 18th birthday, Brooke Lipton, an associate choreographer for “Glee,” contacted him about auditioning for an unspecified spot on the show. Lipton noticed Landgrebe’s dancing talent during yearly events, notably the PULSE on Tour, and she routinely asked for his birthdate.

“(Lipton) told me that once I turn 18, I would be on the show,” Landgrebe said. “And it was kind of just like, ‘Oh, thanks. That’s really nice of you to say that.’ But she wasn’t kidding.”

Two days after his audition, Landgrebe’s phone rang, and he was instructed to return to LA because he was going to be a “Warbler” dancer for Season 6.

Landgrebe flew back to LA and rehearsed one day before he was told he wasn’t needed for two weeks. Since then, his schedule has varied greatly. Usually filming takes place over the course of a couple long days in the studio.

“It all depends,” Landgrebe said. “We’ll … (have) like 8 a.m. call, then (we) don’t leave ‘til 9 (p.m.) But they can’t legally hold us there longer than that without extending our paychecks.”

The rehearsal environment is fairly relaxed, with long breaks between sets. A snack bucket offers an assortment of junk food, and performers scramble for the elusive fruit snacks, which rarely last past the first hour.

Performers and dancers spend the day learning their routines, practicing lip-syncing and filming scenes. Filming requires performers to be “on their game” at all times because one mistake could cause the entire scene to be deleted and replaced with another segment.

“(Filming) is very difficult when you have cameras circling you or on big cranes that will hit you … or you (can) hit the guy on the steadicam,” Landgrebe said.

In addition to avoiding moving cameras and crew, performers must lip sync correct lyrics—or at least give that impression.

“The coach will just say, ‘Make sure you know know your lyrics, and if you don’t know your lyrics, make doo-bop sounds and make it seem like you’re singing the right part,” Landgrebe said. “Just don’t sing when it’s silent, and sing when it is not silent.”

Landgrebe’s professional work and school times overlap, which has been more of a challenge this year than he anticipated.

“I’ve taken on an AP class this year, … AP Statistics, and being gone has been very difficult,” Landgrebe said. “…  But I’m still passing the class, and I’m not disappointing my parents, so … that’s fine with me.”

After graduation, Landgrebe plans to continue dancing for as long as he is able. He sees his spot on “Glee” as one of many stepping-stones in his career.

“My ultimate goal short-term—I like to say ‘short-term’ because … my body will give out eventually—I want to be a tour dancer,” Landgrebe said. “I want to, you know, travel the world and dance with an artist of some sort.”

Several of Landgrebe’s friends already tour with artists and can be in Japan one day and on the other side of the world the next. Finney believes Landgrebe can attain that level of success.

“I think he’s got a super bright future,” Finney said. “I think he’s going to be one of the most successful dancers to come out of the Midwest, and I really feel like eventually he’s going to change the game for dance in the long run.”

While Landgrebe hopes to live this world-traveler lifestyle for awhile, he is already planning for life after dance. He considers being a director, photographer or choreographer as possible career paths.

“Long-term goal, I just want to be a professional entertainer,” Landgrebe said. “I want to entertain in the industry … We’ll see how it goes.”