Viewers are about to find out Thursday, when several of the more melodically inclined members of the cast – Tony winner Sara Ramirez, Kevin McKidd, Chandra Wilson and Chyler Leigh among them – raise their voices in song for a special musical episode of the medical drama.
Grey's Anatomy: The Music Event features an extended musical fantasy playing out in the head of Callie Torres (Ramirez), with performances of several tunes very familiar to longtime viewers of the show, including The Fray's "How to Save a Life," Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" and Brandi Carlile's "The Story."
"I sing a little bit," McKidd told PEOPLE recently at the 8th Annual John Varvatos fundraiser for rape crisis center Stuart House. "I'm not like Sara Ramirez – she's pretty amazing! I mean, off the chart. She's a Tony Award winner for a reason, and the rest of us bask in her shadow. Chyler is a great singer, Chandra Wilson's a great singer, and I can get away with it, let's put it that way. I'll let people judge what they think."
One Grey's doc who wasn't McDream-ing about a solo was series star Patrick Dempsey. "I have no voice at all, so I was very adamant not to sing," Dempsey said. "I'm very much happy to be supporting the rest of the cast in this one." But Dempsey said the cast quickly got over any apprehension about the high-concept episode.
"Everybody was a little leery of it at first, because we were like 'Well, should we jump on the bandwagon of Glee?' because they do what they do so beautifully," said Dempsey. "But it was an opportunity, I think, for some of the cast members to really show their talents musically. And it's really quite moving when you hear Sara's voice and Kevin's voice. Even Justin Chambers sings beautifully, and Eric Dane does a great job. So it's really nice to see them have a moment to shine in a different way and hopefully entertain the fans and keep it fresh."
McKidd said he didn't care if he fell flat. He loved the chance to shake things up. "Nobody has a clue what's going to work, and that's the fun of it," he said. "That's the experiment of being in show business. You don't know what is going to resonate with an audience and what isn't, and you've got to try stuff. I'm always up for that challenge. That's what I love about acting and the job I do."
"I don't love musicals, so I was kind of like 'Oh, great,' " admitted Jesse Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery. "But it's really, really beautiful. Shooting it was really, really moving."
But not quite moving enough for Williams to want to move from the chorus into the spotlight. "I think the producers mistook me saying no for false modesty, but then they got me in the booth and realized, yeah, they should probably not make anybody endure the horrors of my voice."