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Buffy’s Michelle Trachtenberg got ‘Psychosomatic Tonsillitis’ when she had to sing in musical episode

It's scary to take the stage

Promotional photograph of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Michelle Trachtenberg for Buffy
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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The sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was full of twists and turns. It evidenced the show’s ability to reinvent itself several seasons after it began airing on the CW. One of the most remarkable moments in season 6 was episode 7, “Once More, With Feeling,” which was written and performed as a musical. While singing was an exciting challenge for much of the cast, Michelle Trachtenberg shared on a panel at Paleyfest that the episode’s genre switch was stressful at first.

“I gave myself psychosomatic tonsillitis when I heard I had to sing,” Trachtenberg said with a smile. “I was so petrified, I was like, [in raspy voice] ‘Hello? It’s me, I don’t have to sing.’”

Trachtenberg, who plays Buffy Summers’ younger sister, Dawn, on the show, eventually worked up the courage to sing on camera. “But somehow, with lots of tea and lemon, [showrunner Joss Whedon] was like, ‘You can do it!’” which helped Trachtenberg take the plunge. However, the experience was not without its toll on Trachtenberg: “I think I’m the only one who’s not on the DVD of the singing because my face was so puffy from crying.” While Trachtenberg jokes that the experience was “traumatizing,” she insists that she is “better now.”

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Luckily, “Once More, With Feeling” was well-received by Buffy fans, an enthusiastic group that Trachtenberg was a part of before she joined the show. Trachtenberg noted on the panel that going from a Buffy fan to being a cast member on the show “was very surreal.” It’s no wonder then that Trachtenberg had such a strong reaction to hearing about the musical element to “Once More, With Feeling.” Not even the most dedicated Buffy fans could have foreseen such a dramatic shift in genre for one single episode of the show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has become an undead pop culture phenomenon itself