On a show with no shortage of guest star duets, Neil Patrick Harris’ “Dream On” duet is still Glee’s best. It’s no secret Neil Patrick Harris has a great set of pipes on him. Over the course of his showbiz career he’s starred in several musical productions including Cabaret, Rent, and Hedwig And The Angry Inch – the last of which earned him a Tony Award. He performed the opening song-and-dance number at the Oscars not once but twice, and his singing skills have worked their way into his television career with projects like musical comedy miniseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and performing a musical number – “Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit” – in character as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother.
Considering his talents, it made perfect sense for Neil Patrick Harris to guest star on Glee. Harris’ Glee cameo came in the nineteenth episode of the first season, appropriately titled “Dream On.” The episode was directed by Joss Whedon and reunited Harris and Whedon for the first time since Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Harris played Bryan Ryan, a role created especially for him by Glee’s co-creator Ryan Murphy and one that nabbed him an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Bryan Ryan was a former member of McKinley High’s glee club and a rival of Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Embittered by the fact he never made it big on Broadway, Ryan now runs a support group for recovering show choir singers like himself and has returned to his alma mater as a school board auditor determined to cut the glee club’s budget. Proving hitting the high notes certainly aren’t a problem, Harris’ Glee role also included an amazing duet with Matthew Morrison singing Aerosmith’s 1973 rock anthem “Dream On.”
The “Dream On” duet came after Will had reignited Bryan Ryan’s dreams of stage stardom by convincing him to audition for a local production of Les Misérables. At the audition they both try out for the role of Jean Valjean and try to outdo each other as they go head-to-head in their Aerosmith duet. When Ryan learns Will has landed the part of Jean Valjean, he vows to cut the glee club until Will bribes him by offering up his lead Les Misérables role and saves the day.
“Dream On” wasn’t the only song Neil Patrick Harris performed during his Glee appearance. Another duet earlier in the episode featured Will and Bryan Ryan crooning along to the Billy Joel classic “Piano Man” and Harris also sang a few lines of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” but “Dream On” was definitely the highlight.