It’s filled with musical performances of their hits, including “Candy Girl,” “If It Isn’t Love” and “Can You Stand the Rain.” “They can show you exactly how it’s supposed to be.”• RELATED PHOTOS: New Edition honored with Hollywood Walk of Fame starThe movie follows New Edition from its humble start in the housing projects of Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1978 to worldwide fame. To prepare for their roles, the actors went through an intense boot camp with the real-life members of New Edition.“It was definitely nerve-racking, but when you have them there, it’s kind of like a cheat sheet at the same time,” Algee Smith said during an interview in Pasadena at the 2017 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
“The main thing I focused on was his simple mannerisms in his dancing when it came to the routines,” Powers said. “Ronnie has a certain vibe that I had to get down, and you notice it the most in “If It Isn’t Love.” The film includes the highs and lows along New Edition’s road to stardom, including contract disputes, Bobby Brown getting voted out of the group and the addition of Johnny Gill.Algee Smith, a Disney Channel veteran who plays Ralph Tresvant, said the low points were difficult.“Emotionally, it was just challenging,” he said. “It was more than just dancing and singing, there were moments where these guys just opened up their hearts.”
Nearly four decades after New Edition burst onto the music scene, the R&B supergroup is getting the TV treatment.BET’s six hour, three-night miniseries, “The New Edition Story,” about the boy band’s rise to the top of the charts in the 1980s, premieres tonight. The biopic stars Bryshere Y. Gray as Michael Bivins, Elijah Kelley as Ricky Bell, Algee Smith as Ralph Tresvant, Keith Powers as Ronnie Devoe, Woody McClain as Bobby Brown and Luke James as Johnny Gill, and is directed by Chris Robinson.
For Keith Powers, whose previous work includes “Straight Outta Compton” (2015) and MTV’s “Faking It,” the most difficult part was matching Ronnie Devoe’s mannerisms. Unlike other recent TV biopics that feature the actors lip syncing to original music, the cast of “The New Edition Story” does its own singing.“Everything that you saw on the screen, we re-imagined their vocals,” said Elijah Kelley — who previously appeared in “Hairspray” (2007) and NBC’s “The Wiz Live!”But the performances weren’t easy.“We tried as best we could to match their tones,” he added.