Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist made a big impression on audiences in its first season last year. The show revolves around Zoey, who develops the power to hear people’s innermost thoughts and emotions through song. However, that power isn’t the easiest thing to get used to. But it definitely makes Zoey’s life as a coder more interesting! The show balances musical comedy with drama in heart-wrenching moments that deal with grief. Viewers get all the makings of a Broadway show right on their TVs, complete with their favorite songs! The show stars Jane Levy and Skyler Astin, and breakout Kapil Talwalkar plays their co-worker Tobin. Check out YEM’s exclusive interview with Kapil about playing bro Tobin and what fans can expect from the show’s new season. Plus, Kapil tells us his heart song!
Young Entertainment Mag: What did you first think of the show’s premise?
Kapil Talwalkar: I always loved that superpower idea of knowing what someone’s thinking and being inside someone’s head. Mixing that with musical theater- I’m secretly a musical theater nerd. My first show I ever did, when I was 15 years old, was “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I didn’t ever think I would like musicals and I had the best time. I went down the Broadway rabbit hole of knowing all the shows. So when I saw [Zoey] I thought “Oh My God, there’s no way I’m gonna get this. This is the dream.” I read it and I thought I really hadn’t seen anything like this ever.
What was so special about it was, because of those heart songs, you got to know these characters so quickly. What would normally take a few episodes or even a whole season arc, took 42 minutes, and you’re already invested. The scene where Zoey’s looking at that photo of her dad on his boat, I read it and I got chills. I thought “I can’t wait to see how they’re going to do this.”
YEM: That scene where Zoey’s dad is singing True Colors to her is amazing.
Kapil: It is! Just, goosebumps. I remember we screened it at Austin (Winsburg, creator)’s house, right before we knew we were going to get picked up. We were all teary-eyed and hugging each other. It was so sweet. And we thought, we really have something special here.
YEM: Now that Season 2 is here, what can fans expect? What is happening with Tobin?
Kapil: With Zoey not being there, Tobin has remained pretty unchecked. And he’s gone back into his “bro” self. There’s no real voice of empathy and compassion for Tobin saying “hey man, maybe let’s tone it down.” The misguidedness of Tobin’s personality has taken a bit too much on one side. Zoey has to rope it all in in that first episode back. And Tobin learns a lot, he has to learn it all very quickly as Zoey comes back. We can see how important Zoey’s presence is to Tobin, and honestly his masculinity in the workplace, how he treats other people. Of course, Tobin likes to give Zoey a hard time, so fans can expect that too.
YEM: Speaking of Tobin’s “bro” vibe, he and Leif progressed in Season 1 to a friendship that isn’t dependent on toxic masculinity. How did you and Michael Thomas Grant (who plays Leif) develop that friendship outside of toxic masculinity?
Kapil: I think what’s really interesting to explore is oftentimes, from my perspective is, Tobin is more in love with the idea of being a bro, than actually being one. There’s a lot of things about Tobin in the sense that he likes to play video games, he’s sensitive, he really cares if the guys come out and hang. And to adit that necessarily. What I’m really excited for is for people to see where that comes from. That’s what fans can expect to see over the course of the season. Getting more in depth inot Tobin’s layers. Who he presents himself as, why he presents himself like that and where it comes from. What’s the backstory behind that?
YEM: Last season we saw some tension between Tobin and Leif. Especially when Tobin was disappointed in Leif for blowing off their “Spellaversary” as Tobin calls it. Are we going to see more of that? Or is their bromance pretty solid this season?
Kapil: I don’t want to give too much away… but it might be as soon as episode 2, possibly episode 3. It might be sooner than you might think.
YEM: Tobin’s heart song last season was Don’t Speak by No Doubt which is iconic!
Kapil: I was thrilled when I saw that I was singing that! I was really, really happy about that. That was a great one.
YEM: That was one of our favorites from last season. Is Tobin going to have some other fun songs coming up?
Kapil: Oh, absolutely. More Tobin singing for sure. He sings in the “Hello Dolly” number in the first episode back. But later on in the season, you’ll definitely hear Tobin sing.
YEM: What was it like filming a big musical number like that during COVID? Season 2 was filmed during the pandemic, so did that force the show to re-think how to film big musical numbers?
Kapil: Yes. We did not cut corners when it comes to the big musical numbers. A part of me thought we were only going to do solos. But we’ve taken a tremendous amount of precautions to make sure we safely dance and rehearse. So, viewers will still be seeing large musical numbers this season for sure. You might see some really fun numbers with the coding team.
YEM: Is it difficult to film the big musical numbers? Does it take a lot of dance rehearsal and long hours on set?
Kapil: Those have a specific process to it. Those that have individual lines in those numbers have to go through the process of rehearsing with Charlie Alterman and Dylan Haveron who are our music and sound department. Then we go into the booth and record with Harvey Mason Jr, with Austin as well to make sure those solo moments are correct and have the right tone. Then the dance aspect of it, we mask up and dance with Mandy Moore. We’re tested several times a week and we are taking all the precautions with masks and sanitation seasons. We make sure that when we can, we’re maintaining the six feet and keeping everyone safe.
YEM: What songs are on your own Extraordinary Playlist? What songs are your own heart songs?
Kapil: One of the songs I actually love is A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton. I’ve sang it with my sister since I was a kid. It was one of those songs where I’m on the piano and she’s singing. Or she’s on the piano and I’m singing. It’s one of those songs that just makes me think, “Hey, I’m going home to see my family.” Family is so important to me.
Another one for sure is Billy Joel. I listen to a lot of Billy Joel, but his song “Vienna” –
YEM: That’s my favorite Billy Joel song too!
Kapil: Is it? It wasn’t even a single but I really enjoy that song. When I first heard it, I was like, “is he talking to me?” It’s so special and it remind me with everything going on in the world, to take my time with things. And to make sure that I’m still on solid ground seeing all the things around me. And I really love the piano. I really, really enjoy that song.
YEM: Finally, if you could share one specific skill with someone pursuing an acting or musical career?
Kapil: I would say that regardless of what age you are, to never stop being a student. The best performers I’ve seen whether it’s musicians or actors, the ones that are consistently performing at the top of their game never stop learning. Never stop taking classes, never stop going to their mentors, never stop learning new things. Constantly try to improve yourself.