The Pf­ef­fer­mans say it with song in ‘Trans­par­ent: Mu­si­cale Fi­nale’

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tap - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

It is said that growth oc­curs when one steps out of one’s com­fort zone. Amy Lan­decker ex­pe­ri­enced this when film­ing the se­ries fi­nale of “Trans­par­ent.”

In the 100-minute movie ti­tled “Trans­par­ent: Mu­si­cale Fi­nale,” which be­gins stream­ing Fri­day, Sept. 27, on Amazon, the en­tire Pf­ef­fer­man fam­ily – in­clud­ing mom Shelly (Ju­dith Light), off­spring Josh, Sarah and Ali (Jay Du­plass, Lan­decker and Gaby Hoff­mann) – and oth­ers burst into song as they cope with them­selves, their neu­roses and one an­other in the after­math of trans­gen­der pa­tri­arch Maura’s death.

Which meant for Lan­decker, who had no prior mu­si­cal theater ex­pe­ri­ence, there would be singing.

“Which scared the crap out of me ...,” the ac­tress ad­mit­ted to a re­cent gath­er­ing of jour­nal­ists in Bev­erly Hills, Calif. “And when we shot it, you know, I was so petu­lant and angry and child-like be­cause my fear was so high. And, you know, it’s just one of those – talk about risk spa­ces – this show has al­ways pushed the artists to our limit of ex­pres­sion and cre­ativ­ity, and it’s thrilling and ter­ri­fy­ing, al­ways; right? And I was laugh­ing look­ing at the script for the mu­si­cal go­ing like oh, fi­nally Sarah – I’m not go­ing to have any sex scenes, this is go­ing to be easy. And then it was like, oh, no, now I’m singing which is way scarier and more vul­ner­a­ble.”

But she and her cast mates – in­clud­ing fel­low mu­si­cal new­bies Du­plass, Hoff­mann and Kathryn Hahn as well as sea­soned pros Light, Alexan­dra Billings and Shak­ina Nay­fack – ac­quit them­selves quite nicely here as their char­ac­ters come to grips with Maura’s demise.

That sto­ry­line, of course, was prompted by the de­par­ture of the ac­tor who played Maura, Jef­frey Tam­bor, who was dropped from the se­ries as a re­sult of a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal. One might think do­ing what could be a somber story as a mu­si­cal an odd choice, es­pe­cially given the cir­cum­stances, but se­ries cre­ator Jill Soloway felt it nec­es­sary.

“When peo­ple turn to song in­stead of con­ver­sa­tion it’s be­cause there are cer­tain things that can’t be said with words, and so the char­ac­ter must sing,” she ex­plains. “And ... we needed to find a new way to en­ter this story . ... We had been dream­ing of a Broad­way mu­si­cal one day, and we were start­ing to kind of imag­ine the Pf­ef­fer­man fam­ily singing. And so, I pitched it to (Amazon Stu­dios CEO Jen­nifer Salke), ‘What if it was a mu­si­cal movie?’ And she said, ‘Great.’ And here we are.”

Ju­dith Light, Jay Du­plass, Gaby Hoff­man and Amy Lan­decker (from left) star in “Trans­par­ent: Mu­si­cale Fi­nale,” which be­gins stream­ing Fri­day on Amazon.

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