'Hellcats' director Debbie Allen gets three cheers from cast

debbie-allen.pngIn the pilot episode of "Hellcats," Marti ( Aly Michalka) was finally accepted into the squad when she wowed her coaches and teammates by adding a hip-hop dance edge to an otherwise traditional cheer routine. Since then, all of the Hellcats' choreography has incorporated some more exciting flavor.

It seems that there could be no better director for the show than Debbie Allen, famed "Fame" actress, dancer, and choreographer. Allen's career has spanned four decades as she left her unique stamp on the dance world, Broadway, television, and music.

When Zap2it spoke with "Hellcats" star Robbie Jones, he was extremely grateful that her path eventually led to their Vancouver set when she directed tonight's Nov. 17 episode, "Pledging My Love."

"I can't say enough about working with her," he tells us. "Of course she's a great director, but honestly, she's just a phenomenal person, hands down."

Guest directors occasionally have trouble fitting into the familial vibe that a cast and crew develop over their months on set together, but that wasn't the case with Allen.

"It's so huge when you're bringing brand new energy and a brand new flavor to people who have already been working together," Jones gushes. "She changed the game for us, and really left her mark out here."

For Allen's episode, Jones' co-star Matt Barr -- who usually stands on the sidelines while the cheerleaders do the choreography -- had his first real dance number. Despite a minor mishap that landed Ashley Tisdale in the hospital (don't worry, she's fine!) Barr says that he's pleased with the final result, and he credits Allen for that.

"Marti has a dream, and that's how Dan finds himself in this surreal 1950s mambo," Barr laughs. He tells us not to underestimate Allen. While she may be best known for her dance expertise, she's not a one-note director by any means.

"Debbie is obviously, as would be expected, a master of her craft when it comes to the dance and the choreography and the musical numbers," Barr says. "but I was actually surprised by how good she was as an actor's director, which is what my focus is. She's got a great sensibility with how to communicate with the actors and kind of get you into the scene and find the right moment."

Jones says he's crossing his fingers in the hopes that the Hellcats haven't seen the last of Allen. "We'd love to get her back on a permanent basis," he says. "Just putting that out there into the universe."

Barr agrees. "I don't mind if she directs every episode!" he says.

"She's fantastic with a capital F," Jones adds. "End of story."




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Photo Credit: CW