Apple TV+ released a first look at forthcoming seres, Schmigadoon!, as cast and creatives behind the musical comedy were present at today’s winter TCA virtual Q&A session to talk about the new series, a parody of iconic musicals, which will debut in the summer.
“It is a love letter to golden age musicals from start to finish,” declared creator, showrunner, and executive producer Cinco Paul, accompanied by EP and director Barry Sonnenfeld as well as star and producer Cecily Strong, who plays Melissa Gimble, and Keegan-Michael Key, who also stars as Josh Skinner.
Written by Despicable Me duo Paul and Ken Daurio, Schmigadoon! follows a couple who on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship when they discover a magical town in which everyone acts as if they’re in a musical from the 1940s. They then discover that they can’t leave until they find “true love.”
“I had the idea for this over 20 years ago, but I had no idea what it should be,” Paul shared. “And then when the TV landscape changed and Ken and I were ready to move out of animation, it suddenly made sense.” He continued, “The big key was it had always been two guys stumbling upon a musical. And then I said, let’s make it a couple and they’re stuck there until they can find true love. That’s when it really clicked for me.”
The show’s title is a nod to the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. And while some may not be familiar with this play or any of the classics, Paul believes the show will “work just as well for people who don’t know those musicals because it’s an introduction. Everybody understands basically what a musical is.”
Strong assured that it “is definitely a show where we’re not asking anybody to go in knowing everything that happens in Brigadoon or Oklahoma or even having seen those shows.”
Touching on classical theater’s history of falling short with regard to representation, Key said “given the environment that Josh and Melissa find themselves in, there is this mystical overtone that the people that live in this town just happen to be different racial backgrounds.” He added, “they just happen to exist there in a certain amount of harmony. It’s funny, parody is a term that we could use but also I guess in a manner of speaking, it’s a deconstruction of the musical while we’re also respecting the musical at the same time.”
Paul added that it was always very important that the ensemble “looked like America today… We’re using this as an opportunity to deconstruct and comment on things that were maybe problematic and here let’s make them better. What we were doing with the show is focus on the positive.”
The first season of the six-episode series will feature some familiar Broadway faces including Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Jane Krakowski, among others.
“There’s a whole tone to the show, which is both real but very theatrical. So the acting had to be both theatrical and real, and we were very lucky that everyone was able to pull that off,” said Sonnenfeld.
Strong noted that the film was also a “love letter to Broadway.”
“Walking around New York right now, all of the theaters are shuttered. And when we filmed when the theaters were shuttered and it’s a sad time to see Broadway that way,” Strong remarked. “We got to make musical theater during this time. And it was really wonderful. And that’s our also our love letter to Broadway.”