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The Cast Showoff

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Some screen actors have talents other than acting—singing, dancing, what have younote Many, many actors learn singing and dancing to some degree at drama school—and the show they're in will want to make use of it at some point. In most cases, this doesn't derail the story (much), often leading to viewers exclaiming, "I didn't know [actor/actress] could [sing/dance/whatever]!" However, it's not unheard of for the plot to stop dead just to allow such an actor (usually the lead) to show off.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })The line between this and Cast the Expert can be quite thin indeed. Contrast Irony as She Is Cast (in which an actor who is good at something [singing, dancing, etc] in real life has to play a character who is not good at whatever the talent is). Show-offy moments that center around brazenly exploiting star's beauty or sex appeal are usually classified as Fanservice.
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The later seasons of Happy Days had a lot of Anson Williams [Potsie] breaking into song for various flimsy reasons. Granted, his character was a singer, but after a while it got blatant. The "Pumps Your Blood" song he nominally used to memorize the cardiovascular system for an anatomy test is a good (and catchy) example.
The infamous Jumping the Shark episode was done in part because Henry Winkler was a good water-skiier.
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Lewis Ozawa Changchien, who played Hanzo in Predators has practiced kendo since he was five years old, and insisted on using that style in Hanzo's fight with the Predator.
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Speaking of Adventure Time, Prince Gumball—the male version of Princess Bubblegum—is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, so it's understandable that a musical number was fit in.
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Kamen Rider Fourze had an episode where a Monster of the Week challenges the Kamen Rider Club to a contest, and even lets them choose the terms. Gentaro chooses Double Dutch, which is Sota Fukushi's specialty; likewise, JK (Shion Tsuchida) chooses breakdancing.
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Zoey 101: Michael's girlfriend Lisa gets to sing a Open Mic Night. which she does very well, as she was played by former American Idol contestant Lisa Tucker.
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In preparation for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Linda Hamilton spent a lot of time working out and getting stronger. The scene where Sarah Connor does a One-Handed Shotgun Pump because her left arm is injured was one way to show that off.
To put it in perspective, not even Schwarzenegger himself could do that.
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The Wicker Man (1973) has a scene of him displaying his singing ability.
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In Rio Bravo the action interrupts for a few minutes to allow Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson to sing a couple of musical numbers.
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Philip Michael Thomas and his....ahem, singing abilities in the first two seasons of Miami Vice. Tubbs would hum or sing a selection from his album, "Living the Book of My Life", during a break in the action, although this was a rare occurrence.
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Subverted in Detective Conan, where Conan/Shinichi is shown to be a horrible singer who can't hold a tune in a bucket. His voice actor, however, Minami Takayama, is a singer and a member of the pop group Two-Mix.
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Completely averted by Cody Rhodes' guest spot on Warehouse 13; he plays an ex-football player (in a bit of an Actor Allusion), but never does any wrestling moves.
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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
"What's Will Got to Do With It?" This episode is spent having all the other characters praise Tatyana Ali's singing voice.
In the pilot episode, DJ Jazzy Jeff gets to show off his skills with a drumkit while appearing as Will's best friend Jazz.
Alfonso Ribeiro's dance experience was put to use several times, notably in "Sooooooooul Train" and "Strip-Tease for Two." Subverted in that Ribeiro's character Carlton Banks was famous for having outdated taste in dance moves, despite his innate skill.
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The chase scene in Bullitt, where McQueen, also a car enthusiast does quite a bit of his own stunt driving. He made a point of sitting far to the left in the driver's seat, without a seatbelt, so that his face would be clearly identifiable during the stunts.
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Caddicarus has shown off his talents on guitar (dating all the way back to his "Randasongs" before he became a video game reviewer, but also in a thank-you video to his fans), drums (several random drum covers, along with his reviews of Sonic Heroes and the Sly Cooper franchise), and bass guitar (when pointing out an Ear Worm in a Net Yaroze game).
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Pretty much all of the cast of Moana had to be recast for the Maori translation of the movie. Except for native New Zealander Jemaine Clement, who is fluent in both Te Roa and English, as Tamatoa.
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Digimon:
In Digimon Adventure, Mimi is required to sing to wake up a sleeping ShogunGekomon in one episode. Her Japanese VA, Ai Maeda, sang the ending songs for most of the series.
And then in Digimon Adventure 02, Ken going to Mexico during the World Tour arc was so that Romi Park could speak some Spanish.
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In the 1960s Batman (1966) episode "That Darn Catwoman," pop singer Lesley Gore (of "It's My Party" fame) played the villainess Pussycat and sang one of her songs to Catwoman's henchmen.
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Marvel Rising: Gwen is a drummer in a band, the same as in her comics. Unlike comics Gwen, however, the Marvel Rising version is also a singer, since her voice actress Dove Cameron is as well. Battle of the Bands has her perform "Born Ready", a song sung by Dove Cameron which had appeared in previous Marvel Rising animations, such as the credits song in Secret Warriors.
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Nashville runs on this trope, since most of the cast play either professional or aspiring singers/musicians and the ones who play guitar also do their own playing. That said, Juliette doing a solo number in church in front of the choir settles it for her.
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Joe's Earth-2 doppelgänger was a jazz singer and sang the standard "Where or When". Makes since given Jesse L. Martin is a Broadway level performer, most famously a member of the now legendary Original Cast of RENT.
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Good Luck Charlie has a talented cast who all get at least one chance to showoff.
PJ is the guitarist for his band, and Jason Dolley plays the guitar in real-life as well as the piano.
Spencer and Emmet both can dance and they have a dance-off in which they take turns serving each other.
Teddy (Brigit Mendler) has a few chances to sing on the show, once for a talent show, a contest, and an audition for a school musical.
Her friend Skylar does a duet with Teddy for the talent show, but they combine with PJ and Emmet's band and mash-up both songs and subsequentally win the talent show.
Leigh-Allyn Baker appears for have professional dance training, and Amy Duncan tries to teach her family simple and complicated dance moves and routines in an episode when she wants them to do a song and dance number for her hospital's fundraiser. When they don't even try to duplicate what she just showed them, she asks, "what are you waiting for?" and Teddy says "10 years for dance lessons." Which may be a hint to Leigh-Allyn having dance training, or could just be a joke, or both. She even gets an applause track played after the more complicated part of her routine, probably pointing to the former.
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During one scene in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, he plays a part of the movie's title theme.
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Lorelai in Gilmore Girls is shown singing some times. While not a professional, Lauren Graham certainly has a good voice and (AFAIK) is very knowledgeable about music, which may have helped her character's endless witty references.
Rory showed off her Spanish speaking in one episode while speaking to one of Emily's maids. In real life, Alexis Bledel is actually Latina. This also came up during interviews for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; Bledel surprised fellow Latina actress America Ferrera when she spoke Spanish to an interviewer.
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The Cosby Show had an episode in its first season where Heathcliff participates in a senior's track and field event. Bill Cosby ran track at Temple University.
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Several Channel Awesome contributors:
Doug Walker is a very talented singer and has been known to show it off whenever possible. He gets extra points for being able to sing as both a Tenor and a Baritone.
The First Year Anniversary Brawl opens with him singing a parody of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," and it has an operatic quality.
The Moulin Rouge! review he did with The Nostalgia Chick and Brentalfloss shows their singing talents. It also features an opening sung by Linkara. Hell, even Phelous, with his very unique Bass-Baritone sounding voice, shows off that he can sing. Parodied with Oancitizen who goes berserk at not being invited to sing in the review.
And of course, the Nostalgia Critic's Les Misérables: MUSICAL REVIEW is all about this; it features Oancitizen, Paw Dugan, Linkara, Todd in the Shadows, and Maven (Elisa) showing off their singing chops. Inverted and parodied with Brent, who is normally a good singer, mocking Russel Crowe's singing from the film; he sounds terrible and everyone tries to avoid him because of it. It's played for laughs, of course.
Let's not forget Rachel Tietz, who is an accomplished singer and guitarist, who gets to show off her chops in the Les Misérables review, as well as the review for The Last Airbender.
Todd in the Shadows opens every episode with a piano cover of the song that he is reviewing.
When reviewing an anime where characters would randomly switch between English and Spanish for no clear reason, Bennett the Sage shouted in mock horror "Have the Mexicans taken over the world? Oh God, why didn't I listen to Fox News when I had the chance!" in perfect Spanish.
The Nostalgia Chick has a great voice and shows this off whenever she can as well. The X-Men review has her singing a parody of "Candle in the Wind".
Linkara as well has shown his Sinatra-esque singing talents on occasion, not least with the character of Harvey Finevoice. This is lampshaded in his review of Treehouse of Horror #2, where he sings "A Policeman's Lot" (which Sideshow Bob does in the comic), and has this to say...
And his abilities with tongue twisters.
Marzgurl is fluent in Japanese, and really shows it off in Suburban Knights.
Brows Held High is Oancitizen saying "I have an education in film and theater," but he also dedicated an entire episode to showing off his singing voice by singing his review of The Man Who Fell to Earth to the tune of David Bowie. Similarly to MarzGurl, he can also speak Dutch.
Hilariously parodied in To Boldly Flee in a scene in which The Nostalgia Chick is about to sing a song to distract one of the main villains and a group of Mooks. Oancitizen desperately wants to join in to fulfill this trope, but since he's posing as a character already identified as The Speechless, doing so would blow their cover. During the ensuing sequence, the Chick has to physically wrest a microphone from him at several points to keep him from trying to sing (and at one point, the villain himself does so unintentionally); by the end of the song, Oancitizen has had enough and sings the final line, prompting this line from the villain after he realizes he's been had.
Suburban Knights showcases Orlando's complete dominance in terms of martial arts skills.
Chad Rocco of Familiar Faces started out as a fan artist on deviantART, who drew obscure characters in the style of a completely different artist or show and challenged his viewers to figure out who they were. That collage of headshots that appears at the beginning of every video and looks like it was ripped from dozens of random fanart galleries? All his own work.
Nash has his homebuilt Stratocaster, Laura, and the combo amp he built. He gets to show off not only his musical chops (which, while not excellent, aren't bad, either) but his technical know-how.
As seen in the joint review of A Talking Cat!?! with The Nostalgia Critic, Allison Pregler aka Lupa is a pretty good singer too. (She and Critic sing a duet With Lyrics over the song's instrumental opening theme.)
The Rap Critic, a rapper, and trained opera singer, has both rapped and sang opera in videos.
The joint musical review of The Phantom of the Opera features not only Doug Walker's singing, but also Beth Elderkin of Shark Jumping, who is a trained singer.
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Both the opening and ending song of Daily Life with Monster Girl are sung by the characters' voice actresses: the OP by the main harem girls and the ED by the members of the MON group and Ms. Smith (the latter song is actually credited to "Smith with MON").
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Benson: At least once a season, Robert Guillaume would have the opportunity to show off his singing chops.
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JonTron is a pretty good singer, as evidenced during his Dino City and Titenic reviews (among others).
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The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Bedlam", we get a couple of long sequences of Blake playing the piano, with the camera circling to make sure we can tell it's Craig McLachlan himself playing...
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Alias
Michael Vartan's hockey skills. His character has always been given an opportunity to use French, something that becomes an increasingly important plot point as the show progresses. Vartan tends to be viewed as French by Americans and American by the French (he actually refers to himself as a Polish Jew born to Bulgarian and Polish parents who just happened to be born and raised in France).
And Jennifer Garner got to sing in an episode as well.
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The ballet episode of Angel was originally conceived as an excuse for Whedon to utilize Amy Acker's dancing talent. The only scene that required her to dance was cut from the episode for pacing reasons. It did, however, allow him to display former ballerina Summer Glau's dancing talents.
Summer Glau is arguably a case of Cast the Expert — "Waiting in the Wings" was the very first acting role that she ever took, so when Joss hired her, she wasn't so much an actor who could also dance as a dancer who could also act. In hindsight, however, it becomes a straight example.
J. August Richards shows off some juggling skills in one episode.
The mere existence of Caritas, the demon karaoke bar safe-haven where no one is allowed to fight, seems tailor-made to let the cast show their talents or lack thereof. Unsurprisingly, except for Lorne, it's always the villains who get the best songs.
Supposedly Caritas and Lorne was created solely because the actor Andy Hallett was a gifted singer (though not professional until much later) and a friend of Joss Whedon.
Christian Kane left the show after two seasons and worked on the film Secondhand Lions, for which he became a skilled fencer. When he returned to Angel, his character Lindsay was suddenly revealed to be quite a swordsman.
An earlier example is when Lindsay was in the Caritas where he sings a song for Lorne. The song in question was written by David Greenwalt and Christian Kane, the latter of whom provided his own vocals.
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Arrow's Sara Lance, the show's Black Canary before she died and her sister Laurel, the true Black Canary, took over, does a lot of action kung-fu and fighting. In Real Life, her actor Caity Lotz is trained in martial arts, dancing, parkour, and stunt work. Legends of Tomorrow gives her a costume that shows her face, giving Lotz the chance to showcase her skill set with less use of a stunt double.
While Stephen Amell does not do a lot of his fights, he does all of his other stunts himself - he is an avid parkour practitioner and bodybuilder, so it was inevitable. On multiple occasions, a point is made to show his face as he performing the incredible feats he does, and the salmon ladder in particular was included specifically because Amell could do it.
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More and more as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. went on, Jim Nabors was given opportunities to showcase his bell-like if somewhat bland singing voice. The sharp contrast between this and his in-character hick accent stopped being striking or funny fairly quickly.
It had already been shown a few times on The Andy Griffith Show, alongside Griffith's singing, guitar playing, and unique storytelling style.note These days, his singing is what he's better known for; he had sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the Indianapolis 500 for decades and would continue to do so until he passed away in 2012.
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Bones contained a short scene of Zack Addy, whose actor Eric Millegan is trained in musical theatre, surprising several of his coworkers by singing.
Emily Deschanel also sings in that episode. (Singing runs in the family.)
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CSI: NY:
Gary Sinise got to show off his bass guitar skills at the end of two episodes, season 2's "Stuck on You" and season 4's "Time's Up."
Melina Kanakaredes also showed off her fluency in Greek in several eps.
One episode had Danny helping replicate damage on a case involving a baseball player throwing a baseball at a door, thus letting Carmine Giovinazzo show off his baseball ability (he wanted to go pro, but, like Danny, got hurt.)
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Virtually every time a wrestler stars or guest-stars in anything they're shown using wrestling moves, even if they're not supposed to. This led to a hilarious subversion in Chuck when they introduce "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as an enemy agent and expert at close-quarters combat, but is revealed to be a sword expert who ends up performing no wrestling moves whatsoever.
Completely averted by Cody Rhodes' guest spot on Warehouse 13; he plays an ex-football player (in a bit of an Actor Allusion), but never does any wrestling moves.
One particularly blatant example comes from Star Trek: Voyager. In one episode Dwayne Johnson (credited simply as "The Rock") appears for one scene just so he can wrestle Seven of Nine. They even let him do a couple of his trademark moves (including The People's Eyebrow). The Eyebrow can, at least, be justified by the fact that he is playing a gladiator. It would make sense for him to have a trademark, of sorts.
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And in an episode of Senki Zesshou Symphogear, former enka contest winner Nana Mizuki gets an opportunity to sing enka.
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Star Trek: Enterprise's Malcolm Reed shows himself to have a talent for voices much like actor Dominic Keating's in early episodes, mimicking Trip and affecting an American accent to go undercover.
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Parodied with Konata in a few of Lucky Star's endings. She has a beautiful mature singing voice when she tries, but then there's the So Bad, It's Good rendition of Cha-La Head-Cha-La...
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Steve Valentine has appeared on a number of shows (House, Monk, Wizards of Waverly Place) as different characters, but always as a magician.
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In two different scenes in The Goonies, Robert Davi, who plays Jake Fratelli, is shown singing opera. Davi had trained as an opera singer.
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The Great British Bake Off: Paul enjoys taking any opportunity to show off his genuinely awesome kneading skills.
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On one episode of Psych we got to see Dulé Hill's tap dancing skills. Later, in a blooper scene for another episode, when he comments that he has NO idea what he's talking about because he didn't take shop in high school, somebody off-screen asks if he was "too busy tap dancing". (Yes, he was.)
Also High Top Fade Out in which Gus is reunited with 1/2 of his college quartet. Dulé and James show off their singing skills.
In many episode "Psych-out"s the cast assembles for a song. Season 7 will have an episode titled "Psych: The Musical".
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In the Castle episode 'The Last Call', the main cast does an impromptu performance of 'Piano Man'. Most fans were already aware of Nathan Fillion's voice, but many were amazed by Seamus Dever and Stana Katic's chops. Rumor has it, Jon Huertas (Esposito) is pushing for a musical episode.
While not a full episode, he got the chance to show off his tenor in "Swan Song," which dealt with a murdered musician.
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The O.C. included an episode in which Sandy Cohen, played by Broadway veteran Peter Gallagher, sang to his wife.
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Now being foreshadowed by Wendell Pierce as trombonist Antoine Batiste on Treme. His trombone playing in season one is mimed to pre-existing tracks (though he does it so well you'd never know), but after filming a couple episodes he decided to take lessons, and hopes to be able to do his own playing from season two onward.
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In the seventh season, Neil and Cobie have another chance to show their talents with an impressive dance number, and later in the season, Neil and Josh get to sing again when Barney and Ted have a duet parody of Cheers' "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" about the impromptu bar they opened in Ted's apartment.
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Shake it Up gives Davis Cleveland a chance to sing in their Christmas Episode in which Deuce is managing carolers and Flynn gets to sing solo for a line or two. He sounds a lot like Oliver Twist from the 1960's version of Oliver!, and apparently he was well received, as he has since sang backup for costar Caroline Sunshine in the music video "Roam".
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Hugh Laurie has also shown off his musical talent in other roles, particularly that of Bertie Wooster of Jeeves and Wooster. What makes the Jeeves and Wooster thing even more remarkable is that there's no dubbing in those scenes. He's playing the piano and singing AND acting like an upper-class twit. Nice.
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In an episode of Lie to Me, Brendan Hynes (Eli Loker) and guest star Felicia Day get to sing a little duet — about lies, of course.
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Raven made a surprise appearance in Russia for the IWF 2007 President's Cup to cut a promo in Russian.
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In both Sister Act movies, Whoopi Goldberg gets to show off her singing skills as lounge singer Delores Van Cartier (AKA: temporary nun Sister Mary Clarence).
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Miss Congeniality has an In-Universe example: Gracie uses her FBI fighting skills in a talent show.
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Subverted in Are You Being Served?, in that the cast members' various talents were well-showcased, from Nicholas Smith's musical performances to John Inman cross-dressing (and displaying why he was considered one of the great "pantomime dames" of his generation).
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Chris Pratt does his own singing and guitar playing as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation. He also wrote one of Andy's songs. Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, really is an accomplished woodworker and a saxophone player.
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Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Sound Stage 3. Fate Testarossa, as voiced by Nana Mizuki, who by that time had established her singing career by debuting #2 on the Weekly Singles Oricon charts with "Eternal Blaze". Flower-Viewing Festival with karaoke. Naturally, Fate gets bullied by Signum and the rest of the cast to take center stage and sing for them.
For that matter, if the cast list of any anime contains Nana Mizuki, it likely has either an opening, an ending, an insert song or any combination of the three sung in part by her.
And in an episode of Senki Zesshou Symphogear, former enka contest winner Nana Mizuki gets an opportunity to sing enka.
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Full House with John Stamos' music skills, who has toured with The Beach Boys (he also played drums and sang backing vocals on an ER episode). Dave Coulier also showed off his skills in cartoon impressions very frequently, mostly Popeye. Also, he gets to showcase his hockey playing skills in a few episodes.
Stephanie was frequently seen dancing throughout the run of the show and even a few episodes where it a Plot Line.
Bob Saget got a chance to show that he can play the guitar in a later season episode.
Michelle's friend Derek sang a couple of times on the show.
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The Rap Critic, a rapper, and trained opera singer, has both rapped and sang opera in videos.
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Dancing with the Stars has become a fountain of this. If an actor does reasonably well on the show, you can almost expect them to have a character dance soon after. Chelsea Kane danced on Baby Daddy as did Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence on Melissa & Joey. Many times, they'll cast their partner from Dancing to be their partner on their new show as well.
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iCarly: Sam/Jennette shows off her dancing skills in "iDream of Dance" and "iWas A Pageant Girl".
Carly/Miranda shows off her singing ability for a few lines of Amazing Freaking Grace in "iPie", and performs an entire song in "iDo".
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In one episode of Heroes, Micah plays the piano, showing off Noah Gray-Cabey's musical talents. (This was a major part of his role on My Wife and Kids.)
Louise Fletcher got to use American Sign Language in a guest spot on Heroes. She learned it in her childhood, as both her parents were deaf.
Considering both Hayden Panettiere and Kristen Bell are not averse to bursting into song onscreen - the former even did it in her Guiding Light days; see for yourself - it's curious how NBC never "suggested" they do a bit of vocalizing. (Then again, maybe they just couldn't find a logical way to fit it in.)
Hiro's swordplay was just Masi Oka showing off his kendo skills (he's a shodan), no stunt training required.
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And in the more recent days of radio, on Adventures in Odyssey, Will Ryan's propensity for playing the ukulele (he would actually bring it to recording sessions) carried over into his character, Eugene.
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Lampshaded in The Drowsy Chaperone: according to the Man in the Chair, the song "As We Stumble Along" - a "rousing anthem about alcoholism" - was only added because the actress playing the Chaperone in the Show Within a Show demanded a rousing anthem about something in every show she did.
The song "Show-Off" may serve as an in-universe-in-universe example: in the show within a show, Janet is a famous actress and notable Large Ham. Thus, even her declaration that she's giving up the stage requires a 5 minute, elaborate musical number that showcases her many, many talents. The irony does not escape the others present.
Subverted and then played straight by the character of Tottendale, who, according to the Man in the Chair, is played by a woman named Ukulele Lil, who presumably plays the ukulele - but doesn't in this show. In the finale, Tottendale/Ukulele Lil is the first character to appear to the Man in the Chair, and sure enough, she's playing the ukulele.
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Sex and the City seemed to intentionally avert this trope in the casting of Mikhail Baryshnikov (as Aleksandr Petrovsky, or "The Russian"). Baryshnikov is frequently cited as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the age, yet never once is his character given an opportunity to dance. In fact, in the one scene most likely to feature him dancing, it's quickly cut off before he takes his first steps.
He does run for a taxi at one point with balletic skips and hops, though.
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The entire point of the Grey's Anatomy episode "Song Beneath the Song": nearly all of the characters sing at one point, but the focus is on Callie (Sara Ramirez), Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Owen (Kevin McKidd), all of whom have excellent voices. Chyler Leigh also gets some solos in, and since the episode barely give her story it's clear that they're just using the voices. Ramirez even has a Tony for Spamalot.
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Linkara as well has shown his Sinatra-esque singing talents on occasion, not least with the character of Harvey Finevoice. This is lampshaded in his review of Treehouse of Horror #2, where he sings "A Policeman's Lot" (which Sideshow Bob does in the comic), and has this to say...
And his abilities with tongue twisters.
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One Day at a Time:
A 1976 episode had the gang from the apartment building staging a musical show for some senior citizens. It was highlighted by Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as Elton John and Kiki Dee performing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".
They performed a second show at the same retirement home in a later season. Notable for Nanette Fabray, who played Bonnie Franklin's grandmother, performing the song "Triplets", which she originally performed in The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire.
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The Newsroom showcased Olivia Munn's fluency in Japanese in an episode about the radiation as a result of the Fukushima Earthquake. A later episode also had Jeff Daniels and former Broadway actor John Gallagher Jr. sing and play the guitar.
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Notably averted (possibly defied) in The Dukes of Hazzard. Although both lead actors had the opportunity to sing during the run of the series, they refused. They wanted the public to first hear them sing as John Schneider and Tom Wopat, not as Bo and Luke Duke. After the series ended, both went into careers as country music singers. Schneider was the slightly more successful of the two. And what happened? Deejays would play his hit songs, come back on the air, and joyfully announce, "That was Bo Duke!"
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Finale has the cast doing some impressive acrobatics during "Break Free".
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The patient with the brain aneurysm in this episode is played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who is best known for being in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q.
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Mad Men :
Season 1 had Peggy Olson doing dancing routines that shown off the ballet training Elisabeth Moss had as a teenager. Season 7B had her repeat the feat—but this time, it involved her in roller skates with no helmet!
Season 3's "My Old Kentucky Home", an entire episode that seems to be dedicated to Cast Showoffs:
Vincent Kartheiser shows off his dancing skills in the scene where Pete and his wife Trudy stop Roger's party dead by doing the Charleston.
Michael Gladis duets with Miles Fisher (formerly of an a cappella group at Harvard) on "Hello, My Baby" in the scene where Kinsey and his old college buddy from Princeton's Tigertones show off their acapella skills.
John Slattery singing the title song (in blackface, for extra Squick) at Roger and Jane's engagement party
Christina Hendricks appears to sing a rendition of "C'est Magnifique" while accompanying herself on the accordion, at Joan and Greg's dinner party. The singing voice was dubbed but the accordion-playing was all her.
Season 6 opens with Jessica Pare singing "Zou Bisou Bisou" in her native French Canadian while doing some Burlesque steps.
Season 7A ends with Robert Morse singing and dancing to the old show tune "The Best Things in Life Are Free" as Don Draper's hallucination (or was it?) of the now-deceased Bert Cooper in the series' biggest (if not only) Big-Lipped Alligator Moment (but a delightful and tasteful one!). Morse is, of course, a veteran of Broadway musicals, and his role on Mad Men was a Casting Gag referring to his breakout performance in the original 1961 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
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In Batman Begins, Liam Neeson's younger days as a boxer can be seen in Ducard's fighting style, especially the climactic battle towards the end. He goes into boxing stance when fighting Batman in the train.
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The creators of Star Trek: Discovery, with Michelle Yeoh playing Philippa Georgiou, couldn't resist giving her spectacular sword-fighting scenes as both versions of the character.
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Community's cast likes to show off.
"Home Economics": Pierce becomes a keyboardist in Vaughn's band, allowing Chevy Chase to briefly display his skills as a musician.
"Environmental Science": Troy and Abed's duet of "Somewhere Out There".
"Comparative Religion": Troy harmonizes nicely during Jeff and Abed's singing of "Oh, Christmas Troy".
In "Regional Holiday Music", Donald Glover (Troy) takes the opportunity to demonstrate his skill at rapping.
"Interpretive Dance": The dance recital serves as an opportunity for Troy, Britta, and Abed to show off their dancing skills.
"Intro to Political Science" and "Studies in Modern Movement" allow Joel McHale to sing. Ironically, he is one of the weakest singers in the cast, but he is decent enough at it
"Physical Education": Not only can Joel McHale play pool, he also looks good naked, everybody! Yes, those two facts were related.
"Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas": They all sing, and very well by the way (especially Yvette and Alison).
Season 5 included Jeff doing a stand-up skit. Joel Mchale is a comedian himself.
Danny Pudi shows off his abilities as an impressionist multiple times, doing impressions of Nicholas Cage, Don Draper. and even fellow cast members Joel McHale and Donald Glover.
In general, anytime Shirley gets to sing is a chance for Yvette Nicole Brown to go big.
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In Airplane!, Robert Hays not only shows that he can match John Travolta's dancing during the Saturday Night Fever parody, he goes even further by juggling while dancing.
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The new Hawaii Five-0 introduces the ME, Max, as he's playing the piano. It's partly to reinforce Max's quirky character, and partly to showcase Masi Oka's piano skills.
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Once on All My Children, Jesse Mc Cartney performed in character as J.R. Chandler with his real life boy band, Dreamstreet.
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At least part of the reason for the increasingly elaborate Patter Songs in Gilbert and Sullivan operas was that George Grossmith was very good at performing them.
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Devon's Ghost: Legend of the Bloody Boy is a low-budget Slasher Movie with several gratuitous martial arts sequences thrown in, presumably to show off the skills of co-stars (and Power Rangers alumni) Johnny Yong Bosch and Karan Ashley.
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A part of the reason Joe Dawson owned a blues bar in Highlander was so that Jim Byrnes could show off his skill as a guitarist and blues singer.
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Infinite Stratos has the members of Ichika's harem sing the ending song Super Stream:
Episode 1: Houki.
Episode 2: Add Cecilia.
Episode 4: Add Lingyin.
Episode 6: Add Charlotte.
Episode 8: Add Laura.
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Nash has his homebuilt Stratocaster, Laura, and the combo amp he built. He gets to show off not only his musical chops (which, while not excellent, aren't bad, either) but his technical know-how.
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He also tickled the ivories in one episode of Raines.
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Used often in Scrubs:
Sarah Chalke (Elliot) is fluent in German and French. She's used both languages in a few episodes.
She also does this in her part in How I Met Your Mother and Cougar Town.
Sam Lloyd (Ted) belongs to an a cappella group called 'The Blanks', which was written into a multitude of episodes performing as The Worthless Peons.
Scrubs had a musical episode too. Not all the cast were good singers (hence why Chalke wasn't a part of the brief musical number they had in season 2), but some were and the rest gamely did their best toward an enthusiastic and entertaining performance overall.
The patient with the brain aneurysm in this episode is played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who is best known for being in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q.
Franklyn sings "Hey Good Lookin'" in Japanese. Masi Oka is Japanese-born and sang a capella in college.
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Chosen Man Hagman from the Sharpe series is often seen singing or playing music. John Tams who plays Hagman is also a folk musician and composer. He also co-authored music score for the series.
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In the Hexagonal Phase of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, Left Brain (formerly Zaphod's other head) explains they were separated in a Teleporter Accident, and immediately launches into "The Teleportation Blues" (from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe). Because why get Mitch Benn and not have him sing?
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On Gimme a Break!, they let star Nell Carter (a veteran Broadway performer) strut her vocal stuff practically every chance they got, even bringing in musical guest stars for her to sing with. (And guess who sang the theme song?) Ironically, they cut back on that sort of thing once Telma Hopkins (formerly of Tony Orlando and Dawn) joined the cast. Then they ramped them back up when Joey and Matthew Lawrence joined the cast.
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White Nights is one long cast showoff. The whole plot was written around giving the lead actors (Gregory Hines, who is an accomplished dancer, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who is Mikhail Freaking Baryshnikov ... okay, okay, maybe you don't know; he's only considered one of the greatest ballet dancers ever, that's all) excuses to break into dance routines.
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It took Ugly Betty four seasons, but they finally had Vanessa Williams sing on the show. She did "Maneater", among other songs, during a drag show.
Vanessa Williams actually sang "The Way We Were" in Season 1 while reminiscing over her time with Marc. However, this was only in voice-over.
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Whenever there was a musical number on the sketch comedy series Fast Forward, Gina Riley would always portray a female singer.
And sometimes male singers.
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In Animaniacs, the Rita & Runt segments usually provided an excuse for Bernadette Peters to sing. Many of the most beloved episodes also featured at least one of the Warners singing a song, as Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, and Tress MacNeille all happen to be good singers.
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Princess Millhiore of Dog Days is voiced by Yui Horie. So naturally, she's an Idol Singer who puts on multiple concerts throughout the series.
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Similarly - just like the movie - all of the kids in School of Rock can actually play their own instruments, as do Dewey and the members of his old band. Also, to an extent, Sierra Boggess as Rosalie Mullins - while she does sing a lot in-character, the only moment she lets her soprano voice shine is when she sings along with The Magic Flute.
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Supernatural's Bobby Singer, like his actor Jim Beaver, is fluent in Japanese. He actually asked the producers to add a line in Japanese to give him a chance to use it.
Averted with the character Dean Winchester, who is a terrible, tone-deaf singer, unlike his actor, Jensen Ackles. The directors have to remind him to sound bad.
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In Runaways (2017), Ariela Barer (Gertrude) shows off her singing and songwriting skills by singing a little lullaby she wrote. The Minoru family were initially an aversion. Even though all three actors are black belts, they weren't given a chance to show off their skills in the first season because the writers didn't want them to come off as sterotypical. But in the second season, they're able to showcase their talents in an impressive fight scene in the season finale.
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Married... with Children demonstrated David Faustino's rapping, Christina Applegate and David Garrison's dancing, Ed O'Neill's football playing, and Katey Sagal's singing talents at different times.
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In BioShock Infinite Troy Baker shows off his skill with a guitar and Courtnee Draper gives some beautiful vocals. The director purportedly had to ask them to "tone down" their skills to match their characters' amateur status, rather than sounding like a duet between "Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow".
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Total Drama:
The Total Drama Action episode "The Princess Pride" features a song performed by Courtney, whose voice actress Emilie-Claire Barlow is an accomplished jazz singer.
Total Drama World Tour is a showcase for the singing talents of the rest of the show's cast.
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In Axis Powers Hetalia, both China and Taiwan are voiced by Yuki Kaida, who is fluent in Chinese and shows it (especially when compared to the awkwardness of some of the other characters' gratuitous foreign language lyrics). In fact, she is also fluent in English as shown by some of her speaking roles such as Angela Burton of Genshiken, and French.
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American Horror Story:
Coven gave Joan Ramsey, a relatively minor and altogether unsympathetic character who only appears in four episodes, a genuinely heartwarming moment where she sings to her comatose son. It is likely that that moment came about because Ryan Murphy and the writers couldn't resist giving two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone a song.
Freak Show had Matt Fraser, who had been a drummer for 15 years, do some scenes where he plays the drums.
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Forever Knight had a musical scene in one ep that let Geraint Wyn Davies show off his piano skills.
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Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps did a Live Episode including a talent show, almost solely so Will Mellor (Gaz) can demo his juggling ability and Natalie Casey (Donna) can sing (her song, "Chick Chick Chicken", is an Actor Allusion - Casey holds the record for the youngest ever person to make the UK charts, having done so when that song made number 72 way back when she was three years old).
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Several episodes of Small Wonder allowed Marla Pennington to demonstrate her culinary skills or, more often, Tiffany Brissette to show off her talents, from gymnastics to voice mimicry.
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In the cult film Class of 1984, the plot pauses to allow main villain/high school student Peter Stegman to play a piano solo, a solo written and performed by Peter Stegman's actor, Timothy Van Patten.
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Subverted in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, which generally does not feature musical rounds when any of the panel members are talented singers (and which always has at least one musical round when Jeremy Hardy is on the show, because his singing voice is terrible).
The exception is Rob Brydon, who during his first appearance did a "Pick Up Song" of "Delilah" in which he revealed a really good and Tom-Jones-ish voice as well as a freakish ability to stay in time when the music came back in. The show's accommodating him by continuing to give him Tom Jones songs in subsequent appearances arguably does qualify him for Cast Showoff. Rob's true Awesome Music comes in "One Song To The Tune Of Another". In a round when even decent singers consider themselves lucky to get to the end, he manages to make the most ridiculous combinations sound like that was how they were supposed to sound all along.
Defied in another episode:
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Both The Muppet Show and Sesame Street grant big musical numbers to puppeteers with particularly great singing voices, including Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and West End actress Louise Gold. Sesame did the same for both human characters (Northern Calloway, Alan Muraoka, Lillian White, Alaina Reed Hall, Bob McGrath) and puppeteers (Stephanie D'Abruzzo, John Tartaglia) with established careers either in music or theater. Bob, in particular, was famous for being a soloist on the series Sing Along with Mitch in the '60s, leading him to become a teen idol in Japan - naturally, Bob's job on the show was as a voice teacher.
And some just happen to be talented and don't even have those excuses - Emilio Delgado (Luis) got to show off his guitar skills, and former puppeteer Kevin Clash (best known for Elmo) got to show off his vocal range a great deal.
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It had already been shown a few times on The Andy Griffith Show, alongside Griffith's singing, guitar playing, and unique storytelling style.note These days, his singing is what he's better known for; he had sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the Indianapolis 500 for decades and would continue to do so until he passed away in 2012.
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Coven gave Joan Ramsey, a relatively minor and altogether unsympathetic character who only appears in four episodes, a genuinely heartwarming moment where she sings to her comatose son. It is likely that that moment came about because Ryan Murphy and the writers couldn't resist giving two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone a song.
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A Film with Me in It has an in-universe example: Mark asks Pierce to make his character in the script they're supposedly writing a clarinet player, solely due to the fact that Mark can play the clarinet — so no-one else can play the role.
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The Daily Show actually managed this on the 6 October 2009 episode: apparently, Larry Wilmore is a really good magician (at least with card tricks). Lampshaded by Jon at the end of the segment:
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Velma's singing voice in ''Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire" was Krystal Harris while Nicole Jaffe reprised Velma's speaking voice.
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Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory) is skilled as a stage magician and has gotten to perform tricks on more than one episode. He also is a skilled impressionist, showing off his impressions of Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Nicholas Cage, as well as castmate Kunal Nayar.
Johnny Galecki (Leonard) plays the cello and Simon Helberg plays the piano. Both do so in character at various points. Mayim Bialik took harp lessons especially for the show but was a bass guitarist before that.
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The second crossover episode between the Flash and Supergirl (2015) takes it Up to Eleven, being an episode where the two leads are trapped in a Movie Musical. The episode contains five song numbers, two of which are original and written for the episode: "Superfriend" and "Come Running Home To You." And the cast did all the dance numbers too: the choreographer who did the steps worked on Glee before with Grant and the Warblers cast.
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He also sings and plays guitar in The Game Plan.
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Good News Week frequently has Paul McDermott singing for no good reason, though it's certainly not unwanted. Every episode also has two cast members singing popular songs as clues for a game. Sometimes, the contestant, in particular, can't sing - the usual answer to this is to just have them sing off-key with a piano for support, followed by them singing off-key with ABSURD AWESOME-NESS for support. Case in point: Colin Lane sings Thriller.
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Originally Glinda was meant to be a Mezzo-Soprano Belter like Elphaba in Wicked. After casting Kristin Chenoweth many songs were written so she could showcase her amazing and heavily trained Operatic-Coloratura Soprano range, specifically "No One Mourns the Wicked," and "Thank Goodness."
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Little Nell was given a chance to audition for The Rocky Horror Show after the director saw her tap dancing on the street. Her tap dancing was displayed during the Time Warp number and was kept in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
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Batman: The Brave and the Bold has "Mayhem of the Music Meister" which is essentially all about showing off the musical chops of its cast and guest star. The villain is played by none other than Neil Patrick Harris.
Subverted in that this Batman is normally voiced by Diedrich Bader, while his singing voice was provided by Jeff Bennett. Probably done because, as Batman himself put it, he's "more of a baritone" and justified In-Universe by him artificially modifying it with a Bat-gadget.
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Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Masamune Dan play piano and sing some parts like the first words of his Image Song, Justice. Hiroyuki Takami is singer and songwriter of pop band Acess.
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Roddy Piper was a skilled bagpipe player, once coming fifth in an international competition.
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Family Ties had an episode where Jennifer Keaton is the lead singer in a band, performing at the end a cover of "Baby I'm Back in Love Again". Guess what song Tina Yothers released as a single?
Trivia: Two of her bandmates were played by a pre-Married... with Children Christina Applegate and Rainbow "sister of River" Phoenix (who herself had a band at the time). Yothers would go on to form a real band with her brother Cory in the early 2000s (!).
More Trivia: Tina's salsa band appeared on The Howard Stern Show to take on Howard's band, the Losers, in Celebrity Battle of the Bands. Her band lost.
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Suburban Knights showcases Orlando's complete dominance in terms of martial arts skills.
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The sitcom Dear John featured an episode in which ultra-nerdy, socially incompetent Ralph Drang got out onto the dance floor—and suddenly turned into Fred Astaire, courtesy of actor Harry Groener (a full-fledged professional dancer).
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Much of The Dick Van Dyke Show revolves around the talents of the writers of a sketch-comedy show. Buddy's one-liners, Sally's voice, Rob's Dick-van-dyke-ness. Mary Tyler Moore was allowed to showoff just as frequently.
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Captain America: Civil War has a scene with the Winter Soldier in Bucharest, giving Romanian-born Sebastian Stan a chance to speak his native language.
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In Digimon Adventure, Mimi is required to sing to wake up a sleeping ShogunGekomon in one episode. Her Japanese VA, Ai Maeda, sang the ending songs for most of the series.
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The episode 'Plan B' of Wizards of Waverly Place in which Alex puts together a band seems to exist solely to let Selena Gomez show off her singing skills.
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Red Dwarf had a few examples, given that most of the cast were not "legit" actors at the start of the series. The most egregious has to be the "Tongue-Tied" music video at the beginning of the second-season finale as performed by Danny John-Jules (who was a professional dancer), but there were several episodes where Chris Barrie (an impressionist and Spitting Image alumnus) would either do a voice-only part or have Rimmer break into a surprisingly excellent impression of a particular voice or accent (and of course, Ace Rimmer has a different-sounding voice to Rimmer as well).
Subverted in one episode, though, where apparently it turns out that Ace's voice is the one voice that Rimmer can't do well, sounding "67% more weaselly" according to Kryten.
The audiobook of "Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers" is performed by Chris Barrie alone, but sounds like a full cast recording. Barrie also does this on an unbroadcast script episode ("Identity Within") that was included in the Series VII DVD as an extra.
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There Will Be Brawl: In addition to directing the series, Matthew Mercer is the live actor for Ganondorf and the voice of Kirby and Meta Knight.
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Degrassi has done this a lot. Craig's band is the actor's real life band, and Ashley (who also once was in a couple of bands) in real life has said she loves singing.
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Unsurprisingly, American Dad! appears to be going down the same route, if not to quite the same extent. Stan Smith has gotten a few great musical numbers courtesy of Seth. Also, Scott Grimes is a professional singer, and many episodes reference Steve Smith's singing talent.
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For The Hustler, Jackie Gleason was an accomplished pool player in Real Life; all of the shots he made in the film are his own.
During filming, Paul Newman challenged Gleason to a real pool game. After Newman broke, Gleason took his turn and sank all fifteen balls without allowing Newman another shot.
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Everybody Loves Raymond had Ray Romano actually playing the piano at the end of the "Mozart" episode from Season 2.
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Schitt's Creek: Head writer and creator Daniel Levy likes to write to his cast's talents:
Catherine O'Hara and Noah Reid have both been given opportunities to sing and arrange the music for their performances. On top of that, Jen Robertson, Sarah Levy and the other Jazzagals have all been given chances to sing.
Eugene Levy and Chris Elliott are often given Odd Couple scenes that lean in to their history as comic actors, with Levy's awkwardness and Elliott's oafishness on full display.
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In The Man with the Golden Gun, he did his own stunt driving.
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In Episode 12 of Human Target, Jackie Earle Haley (who has a Black Belt) uses some of his martial arts skills.
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Inverted with Desirée Goyette, who performed many songs on the animated TV specials before becoming the voice of Nermal on Garfield and Friends (a role which saw her singing on multiple occasions).
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Fire Emblem Fates:
The English actress for the Mysterious Waif songstress Azura is long-time Broadway actress and singer, Rena Strober. Whereas the Japanese version gave her an actress for speaking and an up-and-coming singer for singing (Lynn and Renka, respectively), Rena Strober both speaks and sings.
Yoshimasa Hosoya and Matthew Mercer voice Azura's son Shigure in Japanese and English, respectively. In the main game, they do not get to show off their singing talents, but the Heirs of Fate DLC pack finally gives them the opportunity to do so with a previously unknown fourth verse of the game's main theme.
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Same for An American in Paris — Broadway originators include Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope, both professional dancers.
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In a couple The X-Files episodes, David Duchovny shows off his basketball skills. He played junior varsity at Princeton.
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The nature of Quantum Leap allowed the series to exploit star Scott Bakula's various talents, frequently in instances of Suddenly Always Knew That. Bakula's character Sam Beckett frequently found himself leaping into dancers and musicians to justify the inclusion of scenes in which Sam then had to dance, sing, or play the piano. In the penultimate episode ("Memphis Melody") he leaped into Elvis freaking Presley, although the ultimate example has to be "Catch A Falling Star," in which he leaps into the understudy for the lead role of a production of Man Of La Mancha! Even when the leapee of the episode isn't a musician or dancer, episodes like "Double Identity" and "Pool Hall Blues" still throw in musical interludes purely in order to showcase Bakula's musical chops.
Donald Bellisario said that unless it was dangerous Bakula would rarely use a double for anything.
However the less said about Dean Stockwell's rapping in "Shock Theatre" the better. (It's telling that the version on the soundtrack album is very different, both in terms of performance and words, to the one in the actual episode.)
This has happened with Bakula again in NCIS: New Orleans. His character, Dwayne Pride, is frequently seen playing the piano at his bar.
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In the season two premiere of Roswell, the now ex-Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) starts to sing at the Crashdown Cafe; his son Nick expects to be embarrassed. Both he and we are surprised to find his dad can actually sing pretty well.
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Hellcats allowed Sharon Leal, Ashley Tisdale and Alyson Michalka to not just show off their physical agility but also their vocal chops. Especially Aly Michalka (compare Tisdale sharing a number with 3OH!3 to Michalka having whole solos). Especially when her sister came onto the show...
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Freak Show had Matt Fraser, who had been a drummer for 15 years, do some scenes where he plays the drums.
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Farscape managed to make use of both Gigi Edgely's sweet fire-eater talents in "Scratch 'N Sniff", with Chiana spinning a rod that's on fire at both ends at a party, and Wayne Pygram's drumming skill, with the Scorpius analog in the Bizarro Episode "Won't Get Fooled Again", playing the drums.
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Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. Full stop. The guy can do anything, and every episode showcases this. He's even a classically-trained opera singer!
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Stargate SG-1: When Anubis' ship crashes into arctic waters off the coast of Alaska, one scene requires Jonas Quinn to swim underwater, reroute power, swim to a set of rings and escape. The original plan was to shoot it in stages, until the director found out that the actor, Corin Nemec, is an extremely good swimmer. The entire scene is filmed as a single shot lasting just under two minutes, and actor performs various physical activities while holding his breath underwater. When he finally surfaces, he's barely out of breath. In the DVD Commentary, the director still can't get over his surprise at the actor not needing to resurface for air.
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Candice Accola sang "Eternal Flame" in The Vampire Diaries while "living out her rockstar dreams."
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Played straight and subverted in one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when Avery Brooks and Rene Auberjonois (as Sisko and Odo) sing "You Can't Take That Away From Me" together: Sisko sounds great, but Odo grumbles through it in a very off-key rendition, though Auberjonois has an excellent voice and has performed in Broadway musicals and The Little Mermaid.
Then there are the various songs sung by Vic Fontaine, played by James Darren.
And Vic and Sisko's duet of "The Best Is Yet To Come".
And Nana Visitor but not as Kira singing "Fever".
Averted in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" Max Grodénchik (Rom) was a semi-pro baseball player in high school, nearly going full-professional before getting into acting. He was incapable of playing as badly as Rom was supposed to be, which is why he plays left-handed in the episode.
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A late Season 3 episode of The A-Team featured Dirk Benedict's (Face's) piano skills in the middle of an A-Team Montage. He was pretty damn good.
Later in the same episode, Dwight Schultz (Murdock) broke into a random, pretty, lyrical song just because. More often it was opera and, in one episode, everything Frank Sinatra ever recorded.
He also got to show off his talent for voices, impressions, and accents in every episode. He now does voice acting for video games.
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Marzgurl is fluent in Japanese, and really shows it off in Suburban Knights.
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The Jack Benny Program:
Older Than Television: Back in 1932, the program had a tenor named Kenny Baker (and later, Dennis Day) who would get a show-halting song Once an Episode. This even carried over into television.
Also parodied on the show, as one of Benny's running gags was his painful violin playing, despite Benny actually being very talented at the instrument.
Back in the day, every radio show had one of these.
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In Mass Effect 2, it's possible to prompt Mordin Solus into revealing a love of musicals and have him burst into a variation of the Major General Song. His voice actor, Michael Beattie, was on the chorus in a version of The Pirates of Penzance.
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On one episode of The State spinoff Viva Variety, the musical guest was Cake Like, co-host Kerri Kenney's band. This involved her introducing the band in character, then switching costumes and singing a song as herself.
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Happens often in Victorious to show off Victoria Justice's singing skills. Especially noticeable in the episode "Beggin' on Your Knees".
This would also apply to Leon Thomas' skills as a musician and singer.
This occasionally applies to Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies, both of whom are singers, having previously appeared on Broadway.
Elizabeth Gillies also gets numerous chances to show off her talents as a Woman Of A Thousand Voices, with numerous scenes involving her character doing funny voices (a deep, Jersey-accented "man" voice, a Judy Garland-esque voice to mock Tori, and even a pitch-perfect imitation of Ariana Grande's voice, among others).
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In Starsky & Hutch, Owen Wilson gets to show off his singing talent sometime near the middle of the movie. This iconic scene also pays homage to David Soul, who portrayed Hutch in the original TV series.
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Steven Universe. Creator Rebecca Sugar deliberately made sure that everyone cast for the show had some singing talent. The biggest examples of this trope would be "Stronger Than You" to make use of R&B singer Estelle, and "It's Over, Isn't It" to compliment Deedee Magno's Broadway experience.
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Subverted in Seinfeld. We hear George's singing in which he can't hold a note to save his life. His actor, Jason Alexander, is a Broadway veteran and a very talented singer who had to be recorded singing twice as he sounded too good the first time.
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The guitar sequence with Maddy and Donna and James in Twin Peaks.
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Jimmy Jacobs's music videos dedicated to The Lovely Lacey in Ring of Honor. Cheesy as they were, he proved to be a surprisingly good singer. The "Death Of Chikara" angle years later proved he could still sing.
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General Hospital had an entire annual event called the Nurses' Ball, which was used to get the cast to show off their chops. Many years prominently featured Jack Wagner and Rick Springfield singing (both had top 10 hits in the '80s) and Kelly Monaco ballroom dancing (she was the first winner of Dancing with the Stars).
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In Saints Row 2, the leaders of the Ronin, a Yakuza-esque gang, speak Japanese. Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Shogo Akuji, is fluent in Japanese, German, and French.
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He does a bit of piano on Earth Girls Are Easy, channeling Jerry Lewis as Buddy Love.
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Olivia Olson has had two characters geared to this: Vanessa Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb (which fits in quite well since there's a song every episode anyway), and Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time.
Speaking of Adventure Time, Prince Gumball—the male version of Princess Bubblegum—is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, so it's understandable that a musical number was fit in.
Banana Man, who is voiced by Weird Al, also got to do a short musical number in his second appearance. This is in contrast with Banana Man's first appearance, where he said almost nothing at all.
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Dixie Carter, who played Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, sang frequently on that show as part of a bargain with the head writer: Whenever the left-leaning Julia spouted a rant that ran counter to Dixie's (conservative) politics, Dixie got to sing in the next episode.
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Konnan would frequently record his own entrance music, as well as those for other wrestlers. WCW even had him do some music videos for them. The same trait applies to tag team partner Ron Killings.
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The Flash (2014)'s Barry Allen has him singing "Summer Nights" rather well. Barry's actor Grant Gustin in real life is trained in musical theatre and aspires to be on Broadway, Glee was his biggest break.
Joe's Earth-2 doppelgänger was a jazz singer and sang the standard "Where or When". Makes since given Jesse L. Martin is a Broadway level performer, most famously a member of the now legendary Original Cast of RENT.
In a deleted scene Carlos Valdes shows off his skills at playing the guitar, when Cisco is requested to do so for his brother's birthday.
The second crossover episode between the Flash and Supergirl (2015) takes it Up to Eleven, being an episode where the two leads are trapped in a Movie Musical. The episode contains five song numbers, two of which are original and written for the episode: "Superfriend" and "Come Running Home To You." And the cast did all the dance numbers too: the choreographer who did the steps worked on Glee before with Grant and the Warblers cast.
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The Season Four finale of Better Call Saul finally allowed Michael McKean to sing in a karaoke scene.
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The Goodies had frequent musical moments. While the other two saw them as an opportunity to muck about, they demonstrated that Bill Oddie was a proper musician and songwriter.
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In the book The Lord of the Rings most of the characters sing more or less all the time, but this was scrapped for the film versions. After hearing Billy Boyd sing "Delilah" at a karaoke bar, however, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens decided to let Pippin sing. Boyd picked a song from the books, wrote a tune for it, and the result was the scene where Pippin sings to Denethor. Funnily enough, the book specifies "He was not asked to sing." The vocals are included on the three-disc expanded sets for each film, so if you want to hear Liv Tyler singing you know where to go.
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Estella Warren is a former synchronised swimmer and member of the Canadian national team. She displays this skill in a very plot-unrelated scene in Driven.
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A couple examples on Garfield and Friends:
Inverted with Desirée Goyette, who performed many songs on the animated TV specials before becoming the voice of Nermal on Garfield and Friends (a role which saw her singing on multiple occasions).
Garfield and Friends had many musical segments with Garfield and Jon, showing that both Lorenzo Music and Thom Huge had pretty good singing voices. The U.S. Acres segments also gave many musical segments which allowed Gregg Berger to sing in-character as Orson.
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In every one of his movies, Norman Wisdom insisted that his bumbling character break into romantic or sentimental songs in spite of how inappropriate they were to his character. On the radio show Desert Island Discs, he immodestly chose to take his own songs to the island in nearly every case.
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In The Running Man, Dynamo is introduced by having him sing the aria from Act III of The Marriage of Figaro. Actor Erland van Lidth had a background as an opera singer.
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In some episodes of Warehouse 13, Artie Nielsen sits down at a piano. In "Regrets," he plays a piece that he's written for his father. The piece, "Nocturne for Artie's Dad," was composed and performed by Saul Rubinek himself.
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In the US version of The Office, the characters go to an ice rink on Michael's birthday so that Steve Carell, a former hockey player and great skater, can show his skills off. Averted in the same episode when Jenna Fischer, who learned to skate for Blades of Glory, played Pam as being poor at it.
Also used in-universe in Michael's self-made movie Threat Level Midnight, which includes a completely irrelevant hockey subplot seemingly just to show off Michael's skill at it.
Also, Andy, played by Ed Helms, gets many chances to sing to show off Ed Helms' talent.
And play the banjo. Rainn Wilson frequently picks up the guitar—Dwight and Andy played "Duelling Banjos" in one episode.
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One of the more justified examples as Sherlock Holmes (upon whom House is based) was an accomplished violinist.
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Will & Grace had two moments that stand out: An episode where Jack challenged Will's boss Ben to a tap-dance-off to prove he was better at something, with the real reason being to display Gregory Hines and his dancing abilities. Then there was the finale, which had Jack and Karen performing a duet of "Unforgettable," with no excuse given other than "I feel a song coming on."
As the show got in to its final two or three seasons the writers took every opportunity to showcase Megan Mullally (As Karen)'s singing voice, towards the end of the show they stopped even trying to be subtle about it.
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Stuff You Like's 10th episode is this for presenter Sursum Ursa. A sung review of Les Misérables? In several parts? To the tune of "One Day More"? Why not?
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Hilariously subverted in Hogan's Heroes - Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink) was a world-class violinist, and the son of a classical composer and noted orchestral conductor. Klink, on the other hand, played the violin like a cat losing a fight with a band saw. However, other episodes did showcase the singing talents of the cast (noticeably Robert Clary, Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis). Bob Crane also got to show off his drumming chops in one episode. (He also played the drums for the show's theme music.)
It should be noted that Klink could play one song perfectly: The American National Anthem
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New Girl has Zooey Deschanel singing constantly, including creating an in-universe theme song in front of the other characters, one of whom asks "if she just made up a theme song for herself".
Zooey sings a full two and a half minute long theme song, which is cut down to 15 seconds on the show itself.
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During the filming of Murdoch Mysteries Season 10, the cast had a karaoke night in which Mouna Traoré, who plays Rebecca James, "blew everyone’s mind". This was the direct inspiration for her choir subplot in the Christmas Episode.
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The episode of Wonder Woman called "Amazon Hot Wax". Going undercover to stop extortionists in the record industry gives Diana Prince a chance to show off her vocal abilities. Lynda Carter performs songs from her debut album Portrait as a form of advertisement.
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30 Rock likes to make use of Jane Krakowski's singing skills by making her character Jenna Maroney an in-universe Cast Showoff. Jenna seems dead set on launching a singing career that just isn't happening, aside from some success in Eastern Europe with a ditty called "Muffin Top". The whole thing is particularly lampshaded when she forcibly inserts herself into the center of a song and dance number that has absolutely nothing to do with her, much to the mild annoyance of the other characters in the scene.
This was also done with Krakowski a lot in Ally McBeal, which make it seem it's Krakowski herself who contractually obligates shows she joins to let her sing. It is a little excessive.
Ally McBeal is an excellent example of this trope all together; everybody in the cast who can remotely carry a tune (and some who can't) takes the stage at the bar at least once.
Ironically, the producers of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt decided that Krakowski's character on that show has a terrible singing voice to bar her from engaging in this trope.
In the second Christmas Episode, Jack's mother gets to sing. Elaine Stritch, who played her, was a Tony-nominated Broadway actress and singer.
Tina Fey has gotten to show off her college-level German a number of times.
Jack has a few opportunities to showcase Alec Baldwin's celebrity impressions.
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Some episodes of Saved by the Bell showcased Mario Lopez's wrestling and drumming skills. One episode gave him an opportunity to perform a bodybuilding posing routine after his character entered a beauty pageant as a prank.
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Also happens in Death Note, where Misa suddenly gets a song number to showcase Aya Hirano's talents. In the English dub, they got Shannon Chan-Kent, who also has a good deal of experience singing.
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Before she got into acting, Cathy Rigby was an Olympic gymnast. She did get to display some of her talents when she was cast as the lead in the stage production of Peter Pan.
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McQueen was also behind the wheel for the racing film, Le Mans.
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While Glee is made to show off the entire cast's singing abilities, there are a few scenes that show Heather Morris (Brittany), Harry Shum Jr. (Mike), and Matthew Morrison's (Will) dancing abilities. Even when the whole group is dancing in unison, if you watch Morris and Shum, their moves are always far cleaner than the rest of the cast. Morris was cast after she was brought on to teach Chris Colfer the Single Ladies dance, as she had recently finished touring with Beyonce.
Special notice goes to the "Special Education" episode, where Morris and Shum get a spectacular swing dance duet during "Valerie", and "The Substitute", where Shum and Morrison do a jaw dropping comedy-dance routine to "Make Em Laugh".
"I Am Unicorn" shows off Chris Colfer's (Kurt) skill with Sai swords. It's pretty damn awesome.
Prior to Glee, Kevin McHale was in a boyband, and before the addition of Harry and Heather, was said to have been among the cast's best dancers. While he spends most of his time in a wheelchair, he does learn all the routines standing up. His character has been given two dream sequences, giving McHale a chance to show off his dance skills. The first dream sequence was plot related, but the second, in which he performs Michael Jackson's 'Scream', was probably an excuse for him to show off.
It was pretty obvious that Gwyneth Paltrow and later Kate Hudson's guest starring roles were mainly used as a tool for the actresses to show off their singing (and in the latter case's dancing) abilities.
Darren Criss sung and played piano for both Teenage Dream and Against All Odds live.
Many cast members showcase their abilities with instruments as well: Mark Salling (Puck), Kevin McHale (Artie) and Chord Overstreet (Sam) all play guitar and Cory Monteith (Finn) plays the drums.
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In one early episode of M*A*S*H, where a USO troop entertained the camp, Gary "Radar" Burghoff sat in with the USO band and performed an impressive drum solo. Several other episodes included moments where he would show off his skills as an impressionist (notably of John Wayne and Jack Benny).
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An episode of Life makes good use of Sarah Shahi's fluency in Farsi.
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Evangeline Lilly's talent for climbing trees is used often on Lost.
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NCIS: In the episode "Forced Entry" Special Agent Gibbs tosses a football to a kid going deep, with a perfect spiral and everything. Gibbs's actor, Mark Harmon, was the starting quarterback for UCLA back in his college days.
Cote de Pablo is a pretty good singer and gets to sing the Tom Waits song "Temptation" from Franks Wild Years in one episode.
"Pretty good"? She used to do Broadway!
Every episode, Abby is this. Pauley Perrette has a degree in criminology.
Similarly, but inverted, David McCallum (Ducky) prepared for his part like a method actor, and eventually became good enough to act as a consultant. Whether he does so now or not is unknown, but according to some DVD extras, he's been asked to speak at professional forensics conferences!
During a guest appearance, Bob Newhart's character conducts a brief reprise of Newhart's signature "one-sided telephone call" schtick.
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Rory showed off her Spanish speaking in one episode while speaking to one of Emily's maids. In real life, Alexis Bledel is actually Latina. This also came up during interviews for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; Bledel surprised fellow Latina actress America Ferrera when she spoke Spanish to an interviewer.
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Wentworth Miller was a competitive swimmer in school, apparently the only reason he's swimming on a first-season episode of Prison Break. Not to mention playing a swimmer in a second season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
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As Lenny Briscoe in Law & Order, Jerry Orbach displayed his skills at pool, particularly with trick shots.
And also a total subversion of this trope: although Orbach was a Tony Award-winning song-and-dance man (even released an album!), his character never sang a note on the show and even claimed in one episode he knew nothing about music!
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Also, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and Dustin's mad motorcycle and saxophone skills. And others.
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Christian Kane left the show after two seasons and worked on the film Secondhand Lions, for which he became a skilled fencer. When he returned to Angel, his character Lindsay was suddenly revealed to be quite a swordsman.
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Thanks to having a song at the end of almost every episode (and a few songs within episodes) in ChalkZone, E.G. Daily was able to show off her singing voice as Rudy. She's released a few records and lyrics herself.
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The Colgate Comedy Hour allowed many celebrities to show off talents the audience didn't know they had, often at the expense of the plot. No one cared much about the plot anyway.
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The Kim Possible episode "Hidden Talent" was part of an attempt to establish Christy Carlson Romano as a part-time singer/actress. Disney does this a lot with its female leads; Lindsay Lohan, Raven-Symoné, Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Vanessa Hudgens. Christy would later provide the romantic theme under the ending credits of The Movie (not quite the Grand Finale) "So The Drama", except there she's not performing as Kim.
The song is spot on for what has happened in the show though, so it could easily be thought of as performed by the character.
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The 2005 revival of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street also had actors and actresses playing their own instruments (including, notably, Patti LuPone on tuba.}
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From What's Happening!!, Fred Berry was an accomplished disco dancer and was previously a member of a dance group known as The Lockers. Naturally, his character Rerun had a few opportunities to show off his dance moves.
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The "Sleeping Beauty" episode of Faerie Tale Theatre. Of course Bernadette Peters got to sing. She's Bernadette Peters.
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In Pixels, during a ballroom gala scene, veteran Broadway performer Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon was his first claim to fame) gets to sing "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" in-character as Ludlow. A subversion, as like in the Coming To America example he sings it with Stylistic Suck.
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Susie Carmichael had a few songs in All Grown Up! (and even a few in the Rugrats timeline). Her voice actress Cree Summer had made a few records and lyrics herself.
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Kamen Rider Dragon Knight didn't shy away from showing off the martial artists cast in it. Considering how two of them were playing characters who are essentially career soldiers, those scenes don't stand out all that much.
The third episode of features a scene where Len, portrayed by karate champion Matt Mullins, trains on a rooftop. Although it makes sense for the character, the scene has absolutely no plot relevance. Looks good, though...
Another example is the fight between him and Danny Cho/taekwondo martial artist and stuntman Mike Moh. The scene is both relevant and looks good with Daytime Emmy Award.
Later in the season, there's a sparring scene between Len and the Advent Master, played by Mark Dacascos. That scene exists to show off their skills.
As far back as the original series' "Let's Go Rider Kick" (performed by Hiroshi Fujioka), Kamen Rider series have featured insert songs performed by the lead actors in order to show off their singing skills. However, Den-O takes the cake for allowing star Takeru Satoh to show off his singing, acting, and even break-dancing skills. In fact, odds are Ryutaros' penchant for breakdancing was created entirely to allow Satoh more opportunities to show off.
Nearly the entire cast of Kamen Rider Kiva getting to show off their vocal chops during things like the Holy Fang Christmas live show. Koji Seto and Kenji Matsuda especially.
Kamen Rider Fourze had an episode where a Monster of the Week challenges the Kamen Rider Club to a contest, and even lets them choose the terms. Gentaro chooses Double Dutch, which is Sota Fukushi's specialty; likewise, JK (Shion Tsuchida) chooses breakdancing.
The Hyper Battle Video of Kamen Rider Gaim had Gaku Sano, Yutaka Kobayashi and Yuumi Shida showing off their interests, most notably Yutaka's baking skills. Yutaka even briefly had a web series called "Yuta Café", where he would bake things for the other cast members. And during the Baron focus episode of Gaim Gaiden, this comes into play again when Shapur bakes a cake for Mai.
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Masamune Dan play piano and sing some parts like the first words of his Image Song, Justice. Hiroyuki Takami is singer and songwriter of pop band Acess.
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While Mike/Joel and the bots all took turns at songs and musical riffs in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (including Mike Nelson being the singer of the Mike-era theme songs), Kevin Murphy's Tom Servo had the lion's share, making use of his powerful singing voice. Ironic, considering he was the smallest robot. Case in point.
The Invention Exchange skits which kicked off most of Joel's episodes were specifically devised to make use of Joel's skills as a prop comedian. That's why they were dropped when Mike took over.
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Jerry Lawler got to show off some of his illustration skills when Ultimate Warrior was trying to put over his then-new comic book in the 1990s.
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A rescue of a drunken Steve Urkel on Family Matters served a dual purpose: a Very Special Episode about teenage drinking, and a chance for Telma Hopkins to show off her tightrope act from Circus Of The Stars.
Jaleel White was also a fan of martial arts (and was also building muscle), so one episode has him transform into Bruce Lee using his special chamber. This was revived for two other episodes.
Shawn Harrison, who played Waldo, got to show off his tap dancing skills in one episode.
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Done in episode 11 of Tensou Sentai Goseiger where Moune forms a cheerleading squad to raise money for a Littlest Cancer Patient - the actress, Mikiho Niwa, belongs to idol group Canary Club whose repertoire includes cheerleading.
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Star Trek: George Takei didn't know how to fence prior to being cast for Star Trek, though he said he could learn in order to better his chances at landing the role; when granted the role of Sulu he went out that weekend to do just that. In the episode "The Naked Time" he finally got to put his skills to practice after suggesting that he fences instead of running around with a katana playing samurai, as the writers initially intended.
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Garfield and Friends had many musical segments with Garfield and Jon, showing that both Lorenzo Music and Thom Huge had pretty good singing voices. The U.S. Acres segments also gave many musical segments which allowed Gregg Berger to sing in-character as Orson.
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"Bring Him Home" was supposedly written for Colm Wilkinson's voice and range. Similarly, Christine was changed from a member of the chorus to a member of the corps de ballet in order to show off Sarah Brightman's skills en pointe.
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Sliders: Cleavant Derricks has a beautiful singing voice, showcased in several episodes. Justified, in that Rembrandt was a professional musician on the homeworld.
This was used to expose Rembrandt as a fraud in one world - that world version is royalty, and tone-deaf.
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2010's The A-Team has Murdock fake a South African accent, which is Sharlto Copley's actual accent. Copley and Bradley Cooper also get to display their actual fluency in Swahili and French, respectively. Ex-boxer Liam Neeson also got to show off his moves in the film's climax.
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This was also done with Krakowski a lot in Ally McBeal, which make it seem it's Krakowski herself who contractually obligates shows she joins to let her sing. It is a little excessive.
Ally McBeal is an excellent example of this trope all together; everybody in the cast who can remotely carry a tune (and some who can't) takes the stage at the bar at least once.
Ironically, the producers of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt decided that Krakowski's character on that show has a terrible singing voice to bar her from engaging in this trope.
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Interestingly, the scene from Dead Like Me where he demonstrates the difference in skills needed to be a home chef and a professional chef was originally supposed to show Rube's cooking skill, but Patinkin insisted the script be changed to reflect the fact that most "home chefs" couldn't last an hour in a real industrial kitchen.
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The Brady Bunch: Multiple examples:
Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick and Florence Henderson have legitimate singing abilities and were showcased in multiple episodes throughout the series' run.
Eve Plumb is a legitimately talented artist, whose work was showcased in several episodes, starting with a detailed drawing of a sparrow that she drew in the first season's "Is There a Doctor in the House?" (In one of the retrospectives of the series, any item that the script called for the kids to make, that particular kid made; sure enough, Eve drew "Jan's" sparrow.)
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Hilariously subverted in Coming to America, where Eddie Murphy intentionally sings poorly.
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Let's not forget Rachel Tietz, who is an accomplished singer and guitarist, who gets to show off her chops in the Les Misérables review, as well as the review for The Last Airbender.
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While the central character on Hannah Montana is already a professional singer (like Miley Cyrus), the show also worked as a platform for Mitchell Musso's (Oliver) rising singing career. Again, it's Disney. Coincidentally, Selena Gomez guest-starred on an episode as a singer (though the vocals were recorded by someone else), years before her singing career began.
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The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Shaun Cassidy (who played Joe Hardy) had a successful singing career outside the show. A number of episodes featured Joe singing either with his "band back home in Bayport" or with whatever musical act happened to be in the show that week. Luckily, the show worked around this through the running gag of his brother Frank never sticking around to hear Joe perform. The plot follows Frank, with cut-backs to Joe's performance.
Parker Stevenson was also a good surfer in real life. One episode, "Wipe Out" had a silly contrived mechanism of Frank Hardy placing in a national surfing competition, just to get the boys to Hawaii and in the middle of a hotel theft ring.
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Lucifer gives Tom Ellis (who plays the title character) many chances to show off his singing and piano playing. For instance, Season 2 opens with him performing "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan, and Season 4 with "Creep" by Radiohead.
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The two female leads on Scooby-Doo get to show off singing talents: Velma at the end of Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire, Daphne in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "In Fear of the Phantom".
Velma's singing voice in ''Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire" was Krystal Harris while Nicole Jaffe reprised Velma's speaking voice.
Daphne played by Grey DeLisle sings in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and has a duet in Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire.
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Besides MMPR actors, a number of other actors in the series have showcased their martial arts talents, including Michael Chaturantabut, Daniel Southworth, Yoshi Sudarso and Brennan Mejia.
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The Guild:
Bladezz is occasionally seen toying with a deck of playing cards. Vincent Caso is known for carrying these everywhere he goes and is noted on his character page to be "an accomplished sleight of hand artist and playing card handler."
Amy Okuda, who plays Tink, has been a dancer since she was 13. She gets to show it off in Do You Wanna Date My Avatar and Game On. Nobody objected. The music videos also highlight Felicia Day's talents as a singer.
Day has said she likes to write in actor's talents into the script so that's why Codex is a former violin prodigy (Day was a violinist) Tink playing basketball (Okuda played basketball).
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In the original production of Show Boat, The Eleven O'Clock Number included a bit where Kim did imitations of Ethel Barrymore or Ted Lewis or whatever contemporary stars the audience requested, for no good reason other than allowing featured actress Norma Terris to show off. When Terris was replaced with Irene Dunne, the imitations were cut, and the otherwise ultra-complete 1987 recording didn't try to recreate them.
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The Nostalgia Chick has a great voice and shows this off whenever she can as well. The X-Men review has her singing a parody of "Candle in the Wind".
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The episode 'Mountie Sings The Blues' on Due South let Paul Gross show off his singing ability, and the 'Two Houses' song that Huey and Dewey are trying to 'write' is actually written by Paul Gross and his singing partner David Keeley. It's on their first CD. Also, 'All The Queen's Horses' had Paul singing 'Ride Forever', also on that CD (as well as the soundtrack). Paul sings again in 'Mountie on the Bounty', doing Stan Roger's 'Barret's Privateers' and his own '32 Down on the Robert Mackenzie'.
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In Orphan Black episode 3:9, Siobhan sings a song with a blues-rock band in a pub. The actor, Maria Doyle Kennedy, is also a professional singer and wrote the song with her musician husband, who was also in the on-screen band.
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On The Magician, all of the illusions performed by the protagonist Tony Blake were actually performed by Bill Bixby, who was an extremely talented amateur magician, without any trick photography.
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FlashForward (2009) featured an eppisode in which Demetri Noh sang karaoke. This is because John Cho is actually a quite talented singer (and is the frontman of an LA-area band).
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Snowy Baker was an extremely accomplished boxer and athlete before becoming an actor, even competing in swimming, diving, and boxing at the 1908 Olympics. The Man from Kangaroo contains an extended sequence where his character demonstrates a variety of dives and swimming techniques for a group of admiring boys. This has absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
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Dolores Duffy has playing the bongos on her professional resume so Iris Puffybush played the bongos in one episode of Strangers with Candy.
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In perhaps the sweetest use of this trope, in the second The Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews was given a song that had been written specifically for her limited range, so that she could have her first musical number since the surgery that damaged her vocal cords. The cast and crew were said to be in tears during the filming.
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In Journey 2 The Mysterious Island, Dwayne Johnson plays the ukulele and sings "What a Wonderful World".
He also sings and plays guitar in The Game Plan.
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Happens in A.N.T. Farm with Chyna (China Anne McClain). Justified because her character is a musical prodigy.
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Parodied in Garth Marenghis Darkplace, where one episode has an inserted music video of supporting actor Todd Rivers, featuring a "rap" by Dean Lerner.
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Wheel of Fortune co-hostess Vanna White is more than just a pretty face. She's also a pretty good singer, as seen on a series of Christmas Week episodes in 1996 where she promoted her Christmas album. She crochets, too.
Host Pat Sajak subverted this on a Christmas episode in 1988, where he gave an intentionally off-key rendition of "White Christmas" while Vanna accompanied him on a piano.
He later played it straight in December 1994, singing the theme to the 1950s Zorro TV series after a contestant failed to solve the bonus puzzle ZORRO.
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Beakman's World was able to use the fact that Senta Moses is trained in martial arts for a segment on the science behind breaking boards.
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Game of Thrones had Bronn lead some soldiers in singing a drinking song. His actor Jerome Flynn was a pop singer back in the nineties. Another character compliments Bronn for his singing voice. Musical theatre star Kerry Ingram (Shireen) is also given a chance to show off her skills.
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In Rentaghost, cast showoff Michael Staniforth as Timothy Claypole could juggle (not unlikely for a court jester), tumble (ditto) and disco-dance on roller skates. He also wrote and sang the theme tune.
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Starsky & Hutch: David Soul is a professional musician; Hutch therefore is given opportunity to sing and play guitar in a number of episodes.
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Rich Swann has a tendency to sing while playing his guitar before or at the start of Dragon Gate and CZW events.
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Home Improvement:
Zachery Ty Bryan is a saxophonist in real life and got to show off his skill at it on a few episodes.
He also got to show his soccer playing as well.
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 Home Improvement
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Bobby Heenan's "Brain Scan" in the 1990s, which featured him doodling famous cartoon characters while insulting baby faces.
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Living Single gave T. C. Carson (Kyle) and Queen Latifah (Khadijah) many opportunities to show off their singing abilities.
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Rarely does an episode of The Brian & Jill Show go by without some opportunity for co-host Jill Whelan to display her talent as a singer. She even snagged a role on Phineas and Ferb after their friend Jeff "Swampy" Marsh heard a sketch that had her singing the blues.
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This wasn't the first time this happened - Goldblum also played piano in The Fly.
He also tickled the ivories in one episode of Raines.
During one scene in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, he plays a part of the movie's title theme.
He does a bit of piano on Earth Girls Are Easy, channeling Jerry Lewis as Buddy Love.
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Leverage has managed to do this twice in season 3, and has somehow kept it from seeming contrived or out of character. Aldis Hodge (Hardison) had his opportunity to play the violin in "The Scheherazade Job," while Christian Kane (Eliot) sang and played guitar in "The Studio Job."
Also, that painting of Nate's "ancestor" (a stylized version of Nate, really) that Hardison claimed to paint himself - yeah, that was really painted by the actor himself.
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Everybody in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog — after all, it's a musical. Who knew Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris could sing so well? Neil did play Toby in Sweeney Todd in Concert. And Mark in RENT.
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Ed Helms shows off his piano playing in The Hangover.
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In Granblue Fantasy, Kissho Taniyama gets to voice the In-universe musician Aoidos, singing the character's "Judgement Night" and "Bloody Garden" songs. Tanimaya is a singer in real-life and a member of the band GRANRODEO.
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In The Monkees episode "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth", Davy Jones must win a horse race in order for a young boy to be able to keep his beloved horse. Jones was a jockey prior to becoming an entertainer (and after, actually, as he still holds the record as the oldest amateur rider to ever win a graded UK stakes race.)
Ironically, it was the lack of cast showoffs that sank The Monkees when word got around that the cast didn't play their own instruments, though Peter and Michael were actually gifted musicians and Micky became a passable drummer ("It's not brain surgery" as he put it). Davy never played anything more complicated than a tambourine.
The Monkees were quite capable of singing in close harmony, as demonstrated in an episode that aired around Christmas where they sang an acapella version of the Spanish carol "Riu Riu Chiu".
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Ford also shows these respective skills in The Mosquito Coast, in which he plays a radical, maverick inventor establishing his brand of civilization in a remote coastal town.
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Critical Role allows Matthew Mercer, voice actor and dungeon master, to show off his talents as a Man of a Thousand Voices, portraying various characters (male and female) with a unique voice for each and every one.
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Many of the later episodes of Duckman had song and dance numbers, once again, to show off Jason Alexander's singing voice.
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Happens often in the Eurovision Song Contest. Sometimes it's just as simple as being particularly great at dancing, playing an instrument, or (shocker!) singing, but there are also often showcases for if the performer is accomplished at gymnastics, yodeling, or some other such unique skill. One of the most famous examples is Norway's Alexander Rybak, who both sang and played the violin in his song "Fairytale" and won the contest.
A variant is when the performers write their own songs, such as Katrina and the Waves or ABBA.
Happens a lot with the hosts as well, especially if they're singers in their own right. The first time this happened was when famous Swedish singer and entertainer (as well as a former Eurovision representative herself) Lill Lindfors hosted in 1985, which began with her singing a song about the joys of music. Happened again the two years after that, when Norwegian folk singer Åse Kleveland (also a former Eurovision representative - same year as Lill, in fact) hosted in 1986 and when Belgian pop star Viktor Lazlo hosted in 1987. Downplayed for a while after that, as most contests opted to use TV and radio presenters as hosts, but it would show up again in years like:
1991 - both hosts were former Eurovision winners and took a good chunk of time at the start of the show to reprise their respective winning songs.
1996 - co-host Morten Harket, of Aha fame, performed his newest single as an opening act.
1997 - similarly, co-host Ronan Keating of Irish boy band Boyzone joined his bandmates to perform the interval act
2002 - one host was an opera singer and the other was a Shakespearean actor, and both would make sure you were aware of those facts several times.
2003 - both hosts had represented Latvia at Eurovision in the past and sang in the interval act.
2006 - Greek singer Sakis Rouvas and Greek-American TV host/model Maria Menounos got to sing a bit of "Love Shine a Light" at the beginning of the semi-final.
2008 - subtly: co-host Zeljko Joksimovic, a famous Serbian singer-songwriter and composer who had represented his country and others at Eurovision (and would again in the future), actually wrote that year's Serbian entry (and it finished sixth)!
2011 - co-host Stefan Raab took every possible opportunity to show off his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, taking both drum and guitar solos at different points in the shows.
2012 - Eldar Gasimov, one of the co-hosts and half of the previous year's winning duo Ell & Nikki, joined his duet partner and several other former Eurovision champs for a rendition of "Waterloo" during one of the semis.
2013 - Petra Mede, a famous comedian and TV host in Sweden, not only hosted the whole show herself; she also performed an elaborate musical interval act called "Swedish Smorgasbord," not only showing off a good sense of humor about Sweden's international image, but also a good singing voice!
2014 - co-host Pilou Asbæk displayed decent Chinese skills, for whatever reason.
2016 - Petra Mede returned, as did the previous year's champ Måns Zelmerlow, with both performing elaborate songs making fun of and celebrating Eurovision and the latter performing his winning song "Heroes" and a new single.
Among the talents contestants have displayed beyond singing: magic tricks (Estonia's Jüri Pootsmann in 2016), drumming (a whole bunch, including Bulgaria's drum-happy duo Elitsa and Stoyan in 2007 and 2013 and Romania's Luminita Anghel in 2005), flute-playing (Finland's Vesa-Matti Loiri in 1980 and Slovenia's Tinkara Kovaç in 2014), piano- and guitar-playing (too many to list, but special props to Ireland's Paul Harrington and Charlie Mc Gettigan, who accompanied themselves on piano and guitar with no orchestra or playback and won handily), violin-playing (major examples being Switzerland's Egon Egemann in 1990 and Sebalter in 2014, Estonia's Sandra Nurmsalu of Urban Symphony in 2009, and not one but two Norwegian winners: Secret Garden's Fionnuala Sherry in 1995 and the aforementioned Alexander Rybak in 2009 and his return attempt in 2018), unicycling (Moldova's Zdobi si Zdub in 2011), saxophone-playing (Moldova's SunStroke Project in both 2010 and 2017; no prizes for guessing who), and plenty more either mentioned here or where that came from.
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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
Cameron learns ballet in the episode "The Demon Hand". Summer Glau, the actress who plays Cameron... do we even need to say it? (She in fact got her big break—working with Joss Whedon in an episode of Angel which later led him to bring her on Firefly—playing a ballerina, as noted above.)
Singer Shirley Manson makes her acting debut in the Season 2 opener; the opening scene is set to the backdrop of her singing, even before her character has any screen time. Her character's daughter mentions in a later episode that "Mommy can't sing."
In the episode "The Tower is Tall But the Fall is Short", Bonnie Morgan, an actress who is also a contortionist, plays the Terminator "Rosie" and gets bent every which way in a fight with Cameron—and yes, her body can and does really bend like that.
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In Rumpole of the Bailey, Julian Curry—an amateur wine expert and wine populariser—occasionally got to show off his wine knowledge whenever his character, Claude Erskine-Brown, went off about wine. Curry's help was apparently invaluable in the writing of the episode "Rumpole and the Blind Tasting" (which centered on recieving stolen property case where the allegedly stolen goods were a massive shipment of very expensive wine).
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It Ain't Half Hot Mum (which focused on a British Army "Concert Party" stationed in Burma during World War II) allowed the whole cast to showcase their talents, notably Don Estelle's singing. The trope is subverted in one episode where an outside recruit is brought in and proceeds to demonstrate his many impressive talents - singing, playing the piano, tap dance, ventriloquism and more. In the end, the men conspire to get rid of him because he risks replacing Lofty, who will then have to be posted "up the jungle".
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 Series: It Ain't Half Hot Mum
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Valentine's Day shows off several of its actors' talents. Taylor Lautner's martial art skills, Taylor Swift's dancing, and George Lopez's Spanglish.
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In How to Get Away with Murder, Laurel speaks to her father in both English and Spanish and then later speaks to her mother primarily in French. Her actress, Karla Souza, is fluent in all three languages.
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The Great Race has an example that is perhaps too brief as we only hear the character of Maggie - who is established as being fluent in Russian as Natalie Wood was in real life - speaking one mere sentence in Russian while addressing and winning over the sinister Russian villagers.
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Bennett also got to sing when he was voicing The Cowlorado Kid on Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa.
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 Western Animation: Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa
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Brows Held High is Oancitizen saying "I have an education in film and theater," but he also dedicated an entire episode to showing off his singing voice by singing his review of The Man Who Fell to Earth to the tune of David Bowie. Similarly to MarzGurl, he can also speak Dutch.
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In The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Laurence Boxhall has two dancing scenes in the episode "Sam's Party".
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It's possible that Anna was made a musician rather than an athlete in Freaky Friday (2003) so that Lindsay Lohan could sing and play guitar. Incidentally, when Jamie Lee Curtis (who's swapped bodies with Lindsay in the plot) plays the guitar solo in the climax, she really is playing it.
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 Freaky Friday (2003)
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The Playboy Club only aired, like, 3 episodes, but every single one of them featured at least one song for Laura Benanti to sing.
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In Psycho Beach Party Lauren Ambrose did her own singing.
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 Psycho Beach Party
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In one episode of Black Books, it is discovered that Manny has a great talent for the piano, which is exploited by Fran and Bernard who both wish to appear that they can play. Manny is played by Bill Bailey, who, of course, is a very talented multi-instrumentalist. Bailey recorded all musical renditions in this episode, including those heard on the radio.
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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Most of the cast have voice doubles for songs, but Ashleigh Ball does the singing voice for both of her characters. It's not a coincidence that she happens to be the lead singer for band Hey Ocean!.
Similarly Apple Bloom has never been written as having any singing talent, but when it was discovered that her actress Michelle Creber had a great voice she was assigned as the singing double for her best friend Sweetie Belle.
Andrea Libman voices Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy and is Fluttershy's singing voice. She is also fluent in French; a fact noted by fans upon hearing Fluttershy pronounce "haute couture".
In an ironic reversal, Equestria Girls seems to be intent on showing off the acting talents of the singing doubles, Rebecca Shoichet (Singing voice for Twilight Sparkle) and Kazumi Evans (Singing voice for Rarity and Princess Luna) have both gotten major roles.
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Doctor Who:
Carol Ann Ford was a trained dancer, which is exploited in her Establishing Character Moment of her doing a very peculiar dance to some chart pop music.
A choreographer, Rosalyn de Winter, was consulted to develop the movements for the Zarbi, Menoptera and Optera in "The Web Planet", and the crew was so impressed with her that she was given the role of the lead Menoptera character in the story, Vrestin.
Patrick Troughton:
One of the Second Doctor's standard maneuvers was Wig, Dress, Accent, which was deliberately written in to exploit how the Doctor was now played by an extremely versatile character actor who could convincingly alter his entire appearance just by affecting a different voice and mannerisms. Good examples are "Doktor von Wer" and the Harmless Lady Disguise from "The Highlanders", and the deliberately convoluted I Am He as You Are He situation in "The Enemy of the World" where he gets to play the Doctor, the Doctor's Criminal Doppelgänger, and both of them pretending to be each other, or pretending to be the other pretending to be them - some viewers even find that the Doctor and his lookalike come across so differently that they don't look remotely like each other, almost breaking the plot.
Troughton, in real life, loved playing the recorder and carried one about with him to play in idle moments, a quirk that got written into the character. The recorder the Second Doctor uses was his own.
The Second Doctor's ability to obsessively read people's social dynamics started when Gerry Davis was fascinated by Troughton's ability to do the same.
Jon Pertwee:
Had a fascination for gadgets and cars, which cropped up in the Third Doctor's stories. In fact, one car used by the Doctor during his run, known affectionately by fans as "The Whomobile", was Pertwee's own personal property, and not a BBC prop. This is why it is never seen or mentioned again after "Planet of the Spiders", unlike Bessie, the more often seen yellow roadster.
Another of his Doctor's quirks was that he was into martial arts, particularly 'Venusian aikido'. Pertwee was a highly-skilled martial artist and tried to do his own stunts whenever possible (although a lot of the time the fight scenes aren't much more elaborate than running up to someone, lightly touching their arm and yelling 'hai').
Pertwee was a well-loved and accomplished singer and voice actor, and one of his Doctor's quirks is a fondness for singing in idle moments, usually in a funny voice or a bang-on impersonation of the original artist.
Pertwee was also an accomplished gurner. Several scenes were written which gave Pertwee an excuse to do his amazing face-pulling.
Tom Baker:
Could pop his already large, wide eyes partway out of his sockets. After a few years, him doing this in an Eye Take was a standard cliffhanger lead-in.
Word of God says the reason Tom Baker was given an elaborate Patrick Stewart Speech in "The Ark in Space" was to show off the then-newly cast Baker's speaking ability - both in terms of his ability to pull off the kind of soliloquies that his predecessor would never have been able to, and in terms of showing off his gorgeous voice, with which the production team was universally infatuated. Some writers (especially Robert Holmes) would even sneak Inherently Funny Words into the Doctor's dialogue in scripts, just for the joy of hearing Baker say them.
The Fourth Doctor's regeneration into the Fifth had the conceit that the Doctor was deliriously thinking he was still in his own past regenerations, allowing Peter Davison the opportunity to show off his gift for impressions as he played the first four Doctors.
Davison also got to show off his cricketing skills in "Black Orchid" and his fencing prowess in "The Kings Demons".
The whole of Season 23 features the Doctor defending himself in a trial. Before he was an actor, Colin Baker was a lawyer.
The Seventh Doctor plays the spoons, a talent Sylvester McCoy mastered during his vaudeville career. He even performs the spoons during a turn as The Fool in King Lear opposite Sir Ian McKellen.
Subverted by McCoy in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy". In his first scene, he's trying and failing to learn to juggle from a "teach yourself" book. This is because the scriptwriter had assumed that he could juggle because of his background in physical comedy and traditional clowning, and it was late in the production that he admitted to the director that he was unable to do the juggling scene that had originally been written.
"A Christmas Carol" features Katherine Jenkins' singing talents as a major plot point.
"Closing Time" establishes that since leaving the Doctor, Amy Pond has become a popular model. In real life, actress Karen Gillan was a model before she was an actor.
Averted on at least two occasions: the 2005 and 2006 seasons co-starred Billie Piper, who was a very successful pop singer, while the 2007 Christmas special co-starred Kylie Minogue, who needs no introduction (apparently she's a pop singer from Australia?), yet neither sang a note during their appearances on the series (and Minogue's episode even included an original song, which was performed by someone else).
The Eleventh Doctor's actor Matt Smith wanted to be a professional footballer before a back injury closed that path for him. In The Lodger, we get to see some of his skills on the pitch, and he's really rather good.
The Twelfth Doctor gets to show off his electric-guitar-playing skills in several episodes of Series 9. Peter Capaldi played guitar and sang in the punk rock band Dreamboys when he was in college, and did all his own guitar playing. The most spectacular example is at the end of The Teaser for "Before the Flood", which continues into the credit sequence, in which he plays the usual top line of the theme.
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And then in Digimon Adventure 02, Ken going to Mexico during the World Tour arc was so that Romi Park could speak some Spanish.
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Todd in the Shadows opens every episode with a piano cover of the song that he is reviewing.
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Dennis Morgan was an excellent singer who got his start in musicals, so naturally Christmas in Connecticut had to feature him playing piano and singing a Christmas carol.
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Boardwalk Empire:
Margot Bingham, who plays Daughter Maitland, is an accomplished Broadway singer. Two of Bingham's songs can be found on the released Season 4 soundtrack.
Anthony Laciura, who plays Eddie Kessler, is a voice instructor and opera singer. He displays his talent in "What Does the Bee Do?" and "All In".
Established Broadway actor Stephen DeRosa plays historical vaudeville actor Eddie Cantor in the show, and his talents show repeatedly. He sings the Awesome Music of the season 1 finale and in the season 3 premiere, his number also serves to introduce Billie Kent.
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Pushing Daisies has Broadway performers Kristin Chenoweth (Galinda in Wicked) and Ellen Greene (Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors) among its ranks. The writers couldn't seem to make it through the second episode of the series without showing us that yes, Kristin Chenoweth can sing, though it took as long as the fourth episode for Chenoweth and Greene to have a duet (they sang "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants). Some things are just too good to pass up, it seems.
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In season 6 of 7th Heaven, Robbie (Adam LaVorgna)'s love interest, Joy Reyes (played by singer Joy Enriquez) sings her own single "Tell Me How You Feel" at a bar owned by her father, supposedly as a way of rebelling and impressing Simon, but obviously as a way to promote her singing career.
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Bradley Cooper also breaks out the French in Limitless, along with Italian and Mandarin Chinese (he doesn't fare so well on that last one).
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 Limitless
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On original CSI, Gary Dourdan showed off his piano skills in one episode.
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 CSI
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On JAG, Catherine Bell (Mac) often got the chance to speak Farsi, a langauge in which she is proficient.
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Miguel Nogera sings better than expected in Grasse and Da Homa Truck Drivers. Inverted with La Morgan.
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In My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny has software that renders her an Omniglot. However, she's only seen speaking English and Japanese, because her voice actress, Janice Kawaye, can speak Japanese really well.
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Matthew Gray Gubler does magic tricks, which were put to good use in two episodes of Criminal Minds, first when he had to palm a chip he was pretending to pull out of a crazy guy's body and later for the noble purpose of picking up a sexy badass bartender.
He's also an artist. In one episode, when Reid (Gubler's character) makes a sketch of an unsub who approached him in the metro, it's his actual work.
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On Fantasy Island, Tattoo was often shown painting landscapes and nature in the later seasons, and Mr. Roarke tells a guest who admires a painting in Mr. Roarke's office that Tattoo is the artist. Herve Villechaize had studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris and exhibited his paintings.
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 Fantasy Island
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The makers of The Exorcism of Emily Rose saved a lot of money on special effects when star Jennifer Carpenter pointed out she could do all those weird poses herself.
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 Film: The Exorcism of Emily Rose
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Adam DeVine of Workaholics has displayed his impressive voice several times, most notably in the episodes 'Office Campout' and 'Man Up'. The show also makes reference to Anders Holm's collegiate swimming days, though this hasn't yet been displayed on the show.
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Sonny with a Chance started off having Sonny (Demi Lovato) as a comedy actress, not a musician (although from the very first episode and opening credits it's seen she's got a guitar). That, until a second season episode where she shows she sings, plays the piano and writes music (like Demi Lovato herself). Probably justified, seeing as how it's a Disney Channel show, and Disney loves to promote its stars as Idol Singers.
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The only possible reason for putting Kirk and Picard on horseback in Star Trek: Generations is that William Shatner is not just a variety of pig: he's also a damned good equestrian.
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The Hyper Battle Video of Kamen Rider Gaim had Gaku Sano, Yutaka Kobayashi and Yuumi Shida showing off their interests, most notably Yutaka's baking skills. Yutaka even briefly had a web series called "Yuta Café", where he would bake things for the other cast members. And during the Baron focus episode of Gaim Gaiden, this comes into play again when Shapur bakes a cake for Mai.
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Nearly the entire cast of Kamen Rider Kiva getting to show off their vocal chops during things like the Holy Fang Christmas live show. Koji Seto and Kenji Matsuda especially.
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They performed a second show at the same retirement home in a later season. Notable for Nanette Fabray, who played Bonnie Franklin's grandmother, performing the song "Triplets", which she originally performed in The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire.
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Halfway through the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica (2003), conservatorium-trained operatic baritone Alessandro Juliani (Gaeta) was given a storyline in which the character sang to help himself endure the pain of an amputated leg; the song was later re-recorded and became the lead number on the Season 4 soundtrack album. Juliani later also recorded the male vocal part of the duet "Capricoperactica" for the mid-season finale of Caprica.
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In The Golden Girls episode "Journey To The Center Of Attention", Dorothy (Bea Arthur) puts her singing skills to good use at a bar called "The Rusty Anchor" (where Blanche and later Dorothy are greeted like Norm from Cheers).
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The "talent show" episode of Oz.
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In Demolition Man, Denis Leary enters into a rant in the style he uses in his comedy routines.
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Power Rangers Zeo had an episode where Tommy and Tanya had to sing every single line, briefly turning the show into a musical and displaying their singing talents (or lack of in Tommy's case). Mighty Morphin also had an episode in season 3 where Kimberly sings an original song, playing her own acoustic guitar as backup. Dino Thunder would pull a similar trick with Yellow Ranger Kira, but as a singer with her own band who dreamed of getting a record contract one day, Kira performed significantly more often in-show than Kimberly ever did.
In Dino Thunder, Tommy and Jason David Frank's martial arts skills returned. He seldom used a stunt double. In an episode where Tommy dreamed fights with his first three ranger forms, that stuntman was in those suits instead.
Also, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and Dustin's mad motorcycle and saxophone skills. And others.
And let's not forget that the original series tailored its martial arts battle to cater to each person's ability, Trini's kung fu, Jason's martial arts ability, Zack's dancing, and Kimberly's gymnastics. Billy didn't get to really show off until about season 3.
Besides MMPR actors, a number of other actors in the series have showcased their martial arts talents, including Michael Chaturantabut, Daniel Southworth, Yoshi Sudarso and Brennan Mejia.
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Brian Austin Green showing off his dancing, singing and rapping "skills" on Beverly Hills, 90210. His performances look painfully outdated now.
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Cabin Pressure stars Roger Allam, a twenty-year veteran of the West End and the original Javert in Les Misérables. Needless to say, his character, Douglas Richardson, does some singing, notably in "Fitton" and "Ottery St Mary". (His co-star Benedict Cumberbatch, a fine singer but not quite of West End caliber, joins in and certainly holds his own, but the musical limelight is Allam's.)
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Top Gear has done this a couple times, largely Played for Laughs. James May has a music degree and has been called on twice to reinterpret the opening theme, once with engine sounds and once, when the show spent all its budget and couldn't afford the licensing fee, he substituted with a Casio keyboard. Richard Hammond studied photography at art school and has produced a few paintings. He's also played bass a couple of times.
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 Series: Top Gear
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Showing off Cree's singing voice isn't just limited to the Rugrats franchise. She appears to get at least one chance to sing in most of her roles as of late, such as Codename: Kids Next Door, and most prominently, Drawn Together (although to be fair, her character in that show, Foxxy Love, is supposed to be a musician).
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 Codename: Kids Next Door
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Andrew, who plays all but three roles in The Time... Guys, is the only cast member who speaks Spanish, and this has influenced several gags. It doesn't seem like he helps the others' Spanish, though it wouldn't be in character for them to know proper Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary.
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Ironically, the producers of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt decided that Krakowski's character on that show has a terrible singing voice to bar her from engaging in this trope.
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South Park:
Over the years the show has been used heavily as a vehicle for showcasing Trey Parker and Matt Stone's talents, interests, and incredible singing abilities. Usually manifests in the form of musical numbers or hilarious use of horribly improper, but grammatically correct Japanese. Parker has a long relationship with music and studied Japanese in university before making it big.
Let's Fighting Love is the combination of both of these talents.
Isaac Hayes before he left. In almost every appearance, he's singing.
The series in general is Matt and Trey showing off that each of them is a Man of a Thousand Voices, since the overwhelming majority of the male cast is one of them. Heck, part of the plot of one episode was probably done to show off a spot on Dark Knight Rises-styled Bane impression.
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The first Bring It On movie allowed co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku to demonstrate their gymnastics skills.
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The Moulin Rouge! review he did with The Nostalgia Chick and Brentalfloss shows their singing talents. It also features an opening sung by Linkara. Hell, even Phelous, with his very unique Bass-Baritone sounding voice, shows off that he can sing. Parodied with Oancitizen who goes berserk at not being invited to sing in the review.
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The Veronica Mars season 1 episode "Clash of the Tritons" had a scene that took place in a karaoke bar where Veronica got called up to sing. Kristen Bell did all her own singing, which is probably half the reason the scene was written in the first place. (The other half: it's karaoke. The show's creator, however, mused on the prevalence of musical episodes in shows at the time, that since she was the only cast member who could sing...)
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This has happened with Bakula again in NCIS: New Orleans. His character, Dwayne Pride, is frequently seen playing the piano at his bar.
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Many scenes from Mork & Mindy were just excuses for Robin Williams to let loose with his improvisational comedy act. Considering that Williams' manic act was considerably funnier than the average episode's script this was an improvement that was obvious enough to the producers to have specific gaps in the scripts where he could improvise to his heart's — and the audience's — content.
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In the Portal games, the voice of GLaDOS, Ellen McLain, is an operatic singer, and sings the credits song for both games. In Portal 2, she also performs an actual opera.
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The actor who played Gary in Pokémon: The Mew-sical also wrote the entire score.
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Flashpoint has used music from cast members Hugh Dillon (better known in Canada as the singer of punk band The Headstones) and Amy Jo Johnson.
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Good Times: Ralph Carter (Michael) - who was a Broadway performer before and after the show - was given plenty of opportunities to sing. When Ben Powers (Keith) joined the cast, they let him do impressions at every opportunity. Ironically, Janet Jackson (Penny) showcased her Mae West impression far more than her singing abilities.
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Casino Royale (1967) does this particularly blatantly in a scene with Peter Sellers and Orson Welles. Peter Sellers puts on a range of accents, while Orson Welles fills his side with magic tricks (Welles was a keen amateur magician). None of it is remotely relevant to what little plot there is.
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1996 - co-host Morten Harket, of Aha fame, performed his newest single as an opening act.
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Homestar Runner lives and breathes this trope, with the same two guys writing, animating, and voicing all but a couple of the characters themselves, but special mention goes to Matt's talent as a Man of a Thousand Voices (no other series with only one voice actor could handle the Loads and Loads of Characters they've added over the years), and the brothers' songwriting skills, which they started showcasing every few episodes or so by 2008-ish.
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Seasons four and five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer increasingly called on Anthony Head's services as a singer and guitarist, which just serves to illustrate how drastically his character changed with time.
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Hilariously parodied in To Boldly Flee in a scene in which The Nostalgia Chick is about to sing a song to distract one of the main villains and a group of Mooks. Oancitizen desperately wants to join in to fulfill this trope, but since he's posing as a character already identified as The Speechless, doing so would blow their cover. During the ensuing sequence, the Chick has to physically wrest a microphone from him at several points to keep him from trying to sing (and at one point, the villain himself does so unintentionally); by the end of the song, Oancitizen has had enough and sings the final line, prompting this line from the villain after he realizes he's been had.
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Stargate Atlantis: Since Rachel Luttrell is a trained singer (and dancer, but we don't really get to see that), one episode has her singing a song at a friend's funeral, implying that all Athosian funeral ceremonies are done this way. According to Luttrell's audio commentary on the episode, she had to fly to LA to do the singing twice since her first attempt sounded too much like a classically trained singer (I wonder why?) which the character, Teyla, is not.
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Directors of The Three Stooges shorts took advantage of supporting player Christine McIntyre's classically-trained soprano in some of their shorts, most notably in Micro-Phonies and Squareheads of the Round Table.
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Firefly
In the episode "Shindig", River deconstructs the mobster Badger, all in a Cockney accent — again utilizing Summer Glau's knack for accents, or what the show's producers thought was a knack for accents. Her Cockney accent has been heavily criticized, however.
In a Cast the Expert cross-over, River is an expert in dancing, which she displays in "Safe". Her flexibility is also shown off in a few instances, notably in "Objects in Space" and several instances where she clings to the ceiling.
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Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Stinger/Sasori Orange sings several songs note Sasori No Uta, Mienai Kizuna, Ichirin No Kage and unnamed song from Space 39 through the story. Yosuke Kishi has a singing career outside of being an actor.
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Since its return, Family Guy has increasingly become a platform for Seth MacFarlane to show off his fondness for musical Broadway theatre and vintage MGM movies and, since he's half the cast, also his tremendous singing ability. In one season, not an episode went by without the show breaking into spontaneous chorus. Eventually this is parodied in "Road to Germany", where having gone back to World War II-era Europe via a time machine, Stewie, Brian, and Mort Goldman are trapped by Hitler, who threatens them with execution unless they perform a song and dance routine (each of the Road to... episodes up to that point had included one). Brian and Stewie begin to sing, but Mort cuts the song short, yelling at them to shut up and just get in the time machine.
The episode Spies Reminiscent of Us may well have been written as an opportunity for Mila Kunis to speak in her native Russian.
Unsurprisingly, American Dad! appears to be going down the same route, if not to quite the same extent. Stan Smith has gotten a few great musical numbers courtesy of Seth. Also, Scott Grimes is a professional singer, and many episodes reference Steve Smith's singing talent.
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Brent Morin of Undateable has a fairly powerful singing voice in the high tenor range so Justin belts out a variety of pop hits throughout the series. It annoys Danny to no end, however.
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LazyTown's Sportacus (Magnus Scheving) showcases the actor's amazing stunts and talent as a gymnast, to the point where the character won't simply walk anywhere - instead he'll flip, somersault, walk on his hands, cartwheel, etc. just to get to wherever he needs to be. Granted, the show was created by Scheving himself, but still...
There was one scene where Sportacus made the simple act of writing a letter look like an exhausting gymnastic workout.
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In Epic Steven Tyler of Aerosmith gets to sing as Nim.
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The soap The Bold and the Beautiful lets any actor with a good singing voice do a whole lot of singing.
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WWE had an anonymous referee who was a pretty good beatboxer. The ref got to show off his beatboxing twice - once to help Brian "Spanky" Kendrick make fun of John Cena, the other time to help Kurt Angle make fun of John Cena.
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In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Marcus nearly falls off his horse. However, Denholm Elliott was an accomplished equestrian and so knew how to nearly-fall without much of a risk involved.
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The entire motorcycle sequence in The Great Escape was included due to the insistence of McQueen, an avid motorcyclist. Note that the scene also involved McQueen playing one of the German pursuers, as the only person on the set capable of riding a motorcycle on the level of Steve McQueen was Steve McQueen.
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Samantha Who?? played with this. It is shown that Samantha used to be an excellent and highly trained dancer like Christina Applegate, but after the amnesia had lost the ability and couldn't get it back, This results in a hilarious ending in which she and her mother, end up showing up Dancing With the Stars pro Mark Ballas through their bond as Mother and Daughter in a ballroom dancing competition, only to later be shown that it's all an Imagine Spot, and in reality the two are horrendous.
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One particularly blatant example comes from Star Trek: Voyager. In one episode Dwayne Johnson (credited simply as "The Rock") appears for one scene just so he can wrestle Seven of Nine. They even let him do a couple of his trademark moves (including The People's Eyebrow). The Eyebrow can, at least, be justified by the fact that he is playing a gladiator. It would make sense for him to have a trademark, of sorts.
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The Court Jester is a showcase for Danny Kaye's skill at mimicry. He was very much not a trained fencer, but he was so good at reading and mimicking other people's movements that he held his own against master swordsman Basil Rathbone!
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Linda Lavin singing on Alice. To be fair, the character in the original movie sang, too.
The character was supposed to be a singer who had to take a waitress job to make ends meet. Lavin was hired for the part because she could sing.
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She also does this in her part in How I Met Your Mother and Cougar Town.
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Breaking Bad has Charles Baker playing "Solfeggietto" by C. P. E. Bach on the keyboard flawlessly in the episode "Hazard Pay". Considering that his character, "Skinny Pete" is a borderline illiterate low-level drug runner, this comes as a great surprise. For many people, it added some interesting depth to the character.
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In the second episode of Legends of Tomorrow's second season, the team infiltrates a cabaret in Nazi-occupied France by having Stein claim to be Hitler's favorite singer Max Lorenz, to whom he supposedly bears a resemblance (the fact that Lorenz was in his early 40s doesn't come up). The rest of the team quietly panic when he's forced to sing to prove his identity, but of course, Victor Garber is a veteran of Broadway musicals, and Stein brings even a high-ranking Nazi to tears with a rendition of an "original song" Edelweiss.
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MacGyver had several episodes that featured ice hockey prominently. Richard Dean Anderson loves the sport and these gave him a chance to show off his hockey skills.
But they only showed him playing guitar once; RDA had his own band for quite some time.
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I Love Lucy seemed determined to showcase Desi Arnaz's singing performances whenever possible, usually running longer than preferable and sometimes lacking any relevance to the episode's plot. (But, after all, he was the producer.)
William Frawley and Vivian Vance also occasionally got chances to sing or perform with no relation to comedy. Lucy's performances were never played straight.
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The adaptation of Ella Enchanted features Ella being ordered to sing "Somebody to Love" for the giants' wedding, if only so that Anne Hathaway could have a song and dance number.
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Diagnosis: Murder showcased everybody's "hidden" talents at some point: Dick Van Dyke got to dance, sing, and perform magic (although how good he was depended on the writer); Victoria Rowell had an episode in which she displayed her ballet training (referenced once or twice before); Barry Van Dyke did some boxing.
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Burn Notice seamlessly blends actor Jeffrey Donovan's extensive martial arts training, skill for accents, and even dancing background into the show, which are justified by his character being an ex-spy who would need to know such things. Curiously, the fight-scenes are often filmed in such a way that Jeffrey's face can't be seen, leading some viewers to think that a stunt-double is used (much to Donovan's frustration).
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The film version of Around the World in 80 Days added a lengthy bullfight scene to show off Mexican comedian Cantinflas's bullfighting skills.
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Mission: Impossible:
Shannon went undercover in several roles that required her to sing, which allowed Jane Badler to showcase her talent as a singer.
In "Gunslinger", Jim Phelps remarks that he used to be pretty good with a sixshooter and does a few Gun Twirling tricks to the admiration of his teammates. The filming makes it obvious that actor Peter Graves is doing his own twirling.
The above examples from the '80s version, but the original had Barbara Bain's Cinnamon singing three originals in "Illusion," Greg Morris' Barney going undercover as a singer... but ironically the most musically talented member of the cast(s), Lesley Ann Warren as Dana, barely got to sing!
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In the DVD commentaries, the writers for The Critic shamelessly admitted that they tried to get Jon Lovitz to sing any chance they got, noting that he has a very powerful singing voice.
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In Frasier, the eponymous character was a highbrow, artsy type, so it was totally in-character (and often humorous, due to context or song selection) for Kelsey Grammer to sing on several occasions throughout the show. He does it quite brilliantly — he's also the singer of the ending credits theme "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs".
Both Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce can play the piano and demonstrate this several times on the show. As Hyde Pierce isn't as good a singer but a better pianist than Grammer, Niles is often called upon to play the piano while Frasier sings.
Wendie Malick, who appears as lounge singer Ronee Lawrence in Frasier's final season, sings at the drop of a hat. The most egregious example is where she sits at the piano singing about the Crane family breakfast to the tune of several well-known songs. (She also has a song-and-dance routine, but that's in a dream sequence of Martin Crane's, so we'll let her off.)
Jane Leeves is a trained dancer and got to demonstrate this ability a couple of times on the show, most notably in the episode "Moon Dance". Her flexibility comes in handy in later seasons when she gets to show off yoga moves.
Despite playing all-American dad Martin, John Mahoney is actually from Liverpool and in one episode mocked Daphne's Mancunian accent by mimicking it rather eerily. Ironically, Daphne's Mancuian accent is put on; Jane Leeves is actually from London.
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Friends:
Lisa Kudrow is fluent in French (and is married to a French advertising executive), and that's a key element of the 10th season episode 'The One Where Joey Speaks French'.
Although Joey is portrayed as being useless at speaking French (in the episode mentioned above), Matt Le Blanc is fluent in the language.
In some episodes Chandler (played by Matthew Perry) is seen playing tennis well and is also a good ping pong player. Perry has a keen interest in tennis and was a top-ranked junior player. Matthew also played a tennis player on Beverly Hills, 90210.
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The season three finale of The Sopranos had Junior Soprano, played by Dominic Chianese, singing an Italian ballad; Chianese is an accomplished tenor in real life. This is something of a subversion; while the adult characters are enjoying it, their kids are bored out of their minds. Meadow Soprano even starts heckling, and later describes the song as saccharine and cliche.
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In The Navy Lark, most of the cast had a massive talent for humorous voices, particularly Jon Pertwee and Tenniel Evans, leading to many episodes having a great deal of Talking to Themselves.
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When reviewing an anime where characters would randomly switch between English and Spanish for no clear reason, Bennett the Sage shouted in mock horror "Have the Mexicans taken over the world? Oh God, why didn't I listen to Fox News when I had the chance!" in perfect Spanish.
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The dune buggy sequence in Star Trek: Nemesis was apparently included due to Patrick Stewart's enthusiasm for off-road driving (he also commandeered a buggy in Masterminds).
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Deleted scenes in Tomorrow Never Dies would have showcased renowned magician Ricky Jay's playing card throwing skills, for which he once held a Guinness World Record.
Wai Lin is a secret agent, so it makes sense for her to know some martial arts, but the fact that she uses kung fu so extensively (as opposed to a more practical martial art like junshi sanda or just shooting enemies) is because Michelle Yeoh has decades of experience doing kung fu movies.
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Chad Rocco of Familiar Faces started out as a fan artist on deviantART, who drew obscure characters in the style of a completely different artist or show and challenged his viewers to figure out who they were. That collage of headshots that appears at the beginning of every video and looks like it was ripped from dozens of random fanart galleries? All his own work.
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The First Year Anniversary Brawl opens with him singing a parody of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," and it has an operatic quality.
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An aversion in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: In the DVD Commentary, Mandell admits that he really wished he wrote an excuse for Zach (played by Jerry Orbach) to sing. He did manage it with Laura Dean (Niko) in "The Ax," though.
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House of Flying Daggers: The dance scene in the pleasure house is mostly an opportunity for Zhang Ziyi to show off what a great dancer she is. She trained extensively as one before embracing an acting career.
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It's in the story, but Haruhi Suzumiya deserves a mention. We all knew by that point how well Aya Hirano sings, but the dub did a translation so Wendee Lee could do her part.
Parodied with Konata in a few of Lucky Star's endings. She has a beautiful mature singing voice when she tries, but then there's the So Bad, It's Good rendition of Cha-La Head-Cha-La...
Also happens in Death Note, where Misa suddenly gets a song number to showcase Aya Hirano's talents. In the English dub, they got Shannon Chan-Kent, who also has a good deal of experience singing.
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Harry Stone of Night Court, played by magician/comedian Harry Anderson, is prone to doing magic tricks and playing practical jokes. Since this was established as part of his character fairly early on, it's not too blatant.
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Not to mention all those times on Star Trek: The Next Generation where they let cast members explore their range; whether it was Dwight Schultz performing Cyrano de Bergerac, Patrick Stewart doing Michael Williams from Henry V, or Brent Spiner playing three different characters having a face-to-face conversation.
Gates McFadden, a noted Broadway choreographer, actually choreographed her character's tap-dancing lesson for Data and did all her own dancing. Given a bit of a lampshade when Dr. Crusher mentions that she hated the nickname of the "Dancing Doctor" at school.
Jonathan Frakes is a skilled poker player, and introduced the tradition of the main cast (minus Picard until the finale) playing poker in their downtime. He could play the trombone at the drop of a mute. Again, however, sometimes Frakes required a Talent Double - professional trombonist Bill Watrous. In Frakes' own words: "When Riker played badly, it was me, but when he was playing well, it was Bill Watrous."
In "Unification, Part II", we get Frakes playing a brisk piece on the piano as well as Michael Dorn singing a part of a Klingon opera.
In an out-of-series example, Brent Spiner, Patrick Stewart, Johnathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton produced a song for Spiner's album "Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back", styling themselves 'The Sunspots'
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In Bob Johnson and Peter Knight's rock opera The Kingof Elflands Daughter Lee was the narrator and played the King. His wild, unearthly singing has to be heard to be believed.
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type
The Cast Showoff
 The Adventures of Pete & Pete / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Andy Griffith Show / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: The Assembled Idiots
seeAlso
The Cast Showoff
 Series: The Cape / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Chase / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Dick Van Dyke Show / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: The Nine Lives of Chloe King
seeAlso
The Cast Showoff
 The Odd Couple / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Rich Man's Daughter / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Sopranos / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Waltons / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: This Is David Lander / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: Thompson / int_5afef16a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Tosh.0 / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Undercovers / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Veronica Mars / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Waterloo Road / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: What's Happening!! / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 White Collar / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Would I Lie to You? / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Series: You Are Beautiful / int_5afef16a
type
The Cast Showoff
 BYU Divine Comedy (Theatre) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Theatre: ISP Presents A Midsummer Nights Dream / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Theatre: Peter Pan / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Theatre: The Barber of Seville / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Last Five Years (Theatre) / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Video Game: Zap Dramatic / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Animation: Eternal Negima / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Familiar Faces (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 History of Power Rangers (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Jerma985 (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: My Drunk Kitchen / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: Princess Tutu Abridged / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Pushing Up Roses (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: SCXCR
seeAlso
The Cast Showoff
 Sailor Moon Abridged (Web Video) / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: Salut Les Geeks / int_5afef16a
type
The Cast Showoff
 Some Jerk with a Camera (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Sonic Bastardized (Web Video) / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: Street Fighter High
seeAlso
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: The Time... Guys / int_5aff698a
type
The Cast Showoff
 To Boldly Flee (Web Video) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Web Video: You Cant Be Serious
seeAlso
The Cast Showoff
 Fireball 20XL (Website) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Agony Booth (Website) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Critic / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Fearless Four / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Life and Times of Juniper Lee / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Penguins of Madagascar / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 What A Cartoon! Show / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Damien Sandow (Wrestling) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Jerry Lawler (Wrestling) / int_7426107
type
The Cast Showoff
 Konnan (Wrestling) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Unholy Three / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 The Sound of Music (Theatre) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff
 Chris Jericho (Wrestling) / int_741e8e7
type
The Cast Showoff