LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Transparent kills off Maura, the character played by Jeffrey Tambor, in its series finale, premiering Friday. Amazon fired Tambor in February 2018 after investigating sexual harassment claims from November 2017. Tambor denied those claims.
Transparent creator Jill Soloway told the Television Critics Association in July that they were worried about making the series' finale movie without Tambor could be taken the wrong way. Transparent: The Musicale Finale turns the drama into a musical to end on a joyful note.
"Is this going to be sort of taken as a celebration?" Soloway asked rhetorically. "But in fact, when you watch the movie, there are so many unbelievably painful, heartfelt moments where our cast is mourning Maura. Our characters are mourning Maura, and as actors and as creators, we're mourning what happened with our show."
Transparent began with Mort Pfefferman coming out to his family as a trans woman, Maura. As the central character of the show, Maura found a community of trans women (Alexandra Billings, Trace Lysette and more trans cast members) while Maura's children (Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffmann, Jay Duplass) and ex-wife (Judith Light) adjusted to having Maura in their lives.
Soloway referred to Tambor's departure and the press coverage surrounding it as "the great rupture." Soloway's sibling, Faith Soloway, is a songwriter. When the opportunity arose to incorporate Faith Soloway's music into a wrap-up movie, Jill Soloway decided the remaining cast should have a sendoff.
New stars like Shakina Nayfack, playing a marijuana dealer, also get a showcase on the Musicale Finale.
"I look at Faith's talent, Shakina's talent, Judith's talent, Alexandra, and I think about some of the early press that came out after the great rupture saying can the show go on?" Jill Soloway said. "Should the show go on? Does the show need to go on? Just watch."
There were still moments during which Jill Soloway almost gave up.
"There were many pauses, because we could have just kind of said goodbye and backed away and waved and been grateful for the love and the transformation around trans liberation," Jill Soloway said. "But as storytellers and as artists, I think this was actually not just the finale, but it was our chance to heal together."
Without Tambor, Maura would not live. However, Jill Soloway still wanted to celebrate the character.
"We didn't want to tell a story of Maura's death that was a complete mourning, that was a sad farewell," Jill Soloway said. "We had to come back to joy. We had to find our way back to joy, and the musical allowed us to do that."
It began with some songs Faith Soloway already had written.
"I've been writing songs about our family and about my gender expression and about sexuality and about gender and about Jewishness all my life," Faith Soloway said. "I'm in my 50s."
The next step was to put the songs into a musical story and write some more.
"She hadn't written a musical," Jill Soloway said. "She had just written the songs. Then we wrote a bunch of new songs, as well. There's a classic Transparent song called "Your Boundary Is My Trigger," which is a mother/daughter aria. That was always there."
Many of the Transparent ensemble cast members had no musical training. Landecker sings the first song that opens the Musicale Finale.
"When we shot it, I was so petulant and angry and child-like because my fear was so high," Landecker said. "I was laughing looking at the script for the musical going, 'Oh, I'm not going to have any sex scenes. This is going to be easy.' And then it was 'Oh, no, now I'm singing, which is way scarier and more vulnerable.'"
Light has Broadway experience. Her most recent musical experience was singing Alanis Morissette's Hand in My Pocket in the Transparent Season 3 finale.
"I was absolutely, at points in time, really, really frightened to do it," Light said. "Singing Hand in My Pocket took me out of that kind of fear and then moved me into another space."
Billings gave her kudos.
"When did Judith Light turn into Chita Rivera?" Billings asked rhetorically. "That's my question."
Transparent: The Musicale Finale premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.