‘Once Upon a Time’ Musical Episode: Lana Parrilla on the Evil Queen’s ‘Guttural’ Singing Voice

Kelly Woo
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand)

The magic of music is on full display this Sunday on a special musical episode of Once Upon a Time.

Storybrooke is hoping for a happy ending in Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) wedding to Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). But the dastardly Black Fairy isn’t about to let them forget about the looming final battle.

How can Emma defeat the greatest villain she’s faced? As flashbacks reveal, the key is music!

“Pregnant Snow makes a wish upon a star and wishes for Emma to be protected. And the next morning, the Charmings wake up and the first words out of their mouths are in song,” star Lana Parrilla, who plays Regina/the Evil Queen tells Yahoo TV.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow and Josh Dallas as Charming in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand))

“And what they discover is that they can defeat the Evil Queen with the power of song.”

Perhaps the same can be done to the Black Fairy!

Musical episodes are all the rage on television these days. OUAT creators Adam Kitsis and Edward Horowitz brought on songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner to pen seven original songs, sung by cast members Parrilla, Morrison, O’Donoghue, Rebecca Mader, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Josh Dallas.

Here’s what Parrilla had to say about the nerve-wracking episode, the Evil Queen’s sound, and putting on her dancing shoes.

What was your reaction when they told you they were doing a musical episode?
Terrified at first because I am not a singer and one of my biggest fears was singing in public! So, I was nervous about that. The great thing is that I’m surrounded by so much love because of the crew and cast — those are the people that really got to see it live.

I was scared at first, but then I got really excited about it. I started training my voice as a singer and then learning all the dance moves, which I loved, because I have some dance background. I went from terrified to, “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to film this!” And now that I’ve been able to see some of the final product, I’m really happy about how everything turned out.

So you didn’t sing at all? What about karaoke?
Oh, I did some karaoke. I did some karaoke with friends and family, but nothing I would ever go public with. I mean, I would do it once in awhile after a couple of glasses of wine — you find the liquid courage to get you up on stage and sing. But most of my karaoke would take place in a private room that you can rent in Koreatown, for a friend’s birthday or a family get-together kind of thing. And then it doesn’t really matter because you’re surrounded by people you’re so comfortable with. And you know most of them probably don’t even sound as good anyway.

What was the preparation process like?
Well, we initially had to sing with the the songwriters, Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, just to get a sense, an idea of what we were capable of doing vocally. They came over and I have a piano in my home. And we learned that I actually had a pretty extensive range; I have a four-octave, almost five-octave range.

But what I learned is that they loved how deep my voice can go. I speak from a lower register more naturally anyhow. And so they wanted that guttural, more bass-y kind of sound from a woman, which was me, which was appropriate for the Evil Queen. They really wanted to sort of utilize that part of my voice as opposed to registers which I guess would be more appropriate for some of the princesses.

I started dance rehearsals, and we had two hours each day to rehearse and I bumped it up to four hours because I’m big on rehearsals and I wanted to make sure that I was going to give it everything I got.

I got my own dance shoes and taped up my feet to make sure that they could get me through a huge few days of filming in December. And then we just went for it! And I just love it. I’d love to do this again.

Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand)

Once Upon a Time has been on for six seasons, but the filming of this episode must’ve been unlike anything you’ve done before.
Oh, completely. At Comic-Con, the audience would ask us if we would do a musical and at a certain point, I remember talking to Adam and Eddie. You know, we do a little teaser every year with a little spoof or something that’s fun to air over Comic-Con. And I thought maybe we should do like a little musical thing and just give them what they want.

Then, when I learned we were doing a musical episode, I thought, “How the heck is this going to fit into our format and storytelling?” And of course, they figured it out.

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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