At long last, Thursday’s episode of Legacies (The CW, 9/8c) raises the curtain on Salvatore: The Musical. But what’s supposed to serve as a straight retelling of the supernatural school’s inception quickly becomes a musical recap of The Vampire Diaries‘ many sordid romances. And we have no complaints.
Following a brief-but-memorable audition process, Josie (Kaylee Bryant) and Kaleb (Chris Lee) land the roles of Elena Gilbert and Damon Salvatore, made famous 11 years ago by Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder. And just as Damon and Elena’s legacies (tee-hee!) are inherently woven into the fabric of this spinoff, both Bryant and Lee were already familiar with the original series’ angsty lovers.
“It was the first show I ever binge-watched,” Bryant tells TVLine of The Vampire Diaries, adding that she has rewatched the first season “at least three or four times, so the research is already done.” Lee says he was also familiar with both TVD and The Originals before joining Legacies, albeit to a lesser extent, thanks to a previous girlfriend’s obsession with the franchise.
Still, walking (and singing) a mile in Damon and Elena’s shoes helped both actors develop a new appreciation for them. “Elena’s character arc was all about choosing what made the most sense for her, which was sometimes seen as the ‘selfish’ decision, and that’s pretty much what Josie has been dealing with,” Bryant says. “It was fun being able to relate to [Elena] in that way I never thought I would.”
Lee also discovered similarities between Kaleb and Damon, particularly in their philosophies about being a member of the undead among the living. “Kaleb’s attitude, especially in Season 1, came from Damon,” Lee says. “And I love the relationship he had with his brother. It’s like, ‘I love you, but I hate you. I need you, but I don’t want you around.’ That type of thing.”
Speaking of Damon’s brother, Lee commends Ben Levin’s work as Stefan in Salvatore: The Musical. “Jed’s voice is incredible,” Lee says. “He was committed to getting the moves and steps right, making it look like he wasn’t trying at all.” As for his female counterpart, Lee says, “Kaylee is a dream and a half. I love her voice. And she gets theater. She’s so natural at translating it to the screen.”
Though Landon gets in-show credit for penning this musical history lesson, the episode itself was written by Thomas Brandon, who also co-wrote the songs with musician Chris Read. (Brandon, whom executive producer Julie Plec calls her “secret weapon for music,” previously wrote Josie and Landon’s songs for the talent show in Season 1.) Several of the numbers in Salvatore: The Musical are even named after iconic TVD lines, including “Hello, Brother,” of which you can hear in full below:
Next, it was time for Bryant and Lee to dress the part.
“There were pictures of the main original cast of The Vampire Diaries everywhere, and everyone was trying to figure out what their most iconic looks were,” Bryant recalls. “For Elena, it was the layered thermal with the white cami popping out. And a fake leather jacket. So much pleather. We even put up pictures of her hair, trying to find the perfect wig that would fall straight down like her hair did. All that fun stuff.”
But no costume piece brought Bryant more joy than Elena’s flare jeans. “They were really comfortable,” she says. “We need to bring those back. My ankles got so much of a breeze!”
Lee also relished the opportunity to dress like Damon, whose style he originally hoped Kaleb would mirror before he and costume designer Ann Walters settled on a more refined look for his character. Kaleb dresses “like LeBron after a basketball game,” Lee explains, “which makes sense, because he’s a football kid who happened to become a vampire. In the fitting room for this episode, putting on that scarf, those boots, that jacket — it was like, ‘Oh man, I’m not even worthy.’”