Even if you’re not the kind of Broadway nerd that would score the title Schmigadoon with reference to the musical Lerner and Loewe Brigadoon, the opening of the new Apple TV + series, which takes the iconic chorus “Ooooo-klahoma” and adapts it to a new city, immediately announces the show as a love letter to musicals. But if this description may not appeal to those who gag the schmaltz that defines the Great White Way, the creators Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the writers behind Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets, have built a comedy that includes this reaction as well, drawing on self-awareness and even writing in a musical theater skeptic in the universe (Keegan-Michael Key) to function as an audience surrogate. That is, if watching characters spontaneously take to singing makes you roll your eyes or sit up in your seat, it’s hard not to be wowed by the new musical. From candy-colored costumes and twee sets to incredibly catchy songs, it’s the closest on-screen equivalent of an old-fashioned musical in recent memory, even as, like the Daniel Fish’s revival in 2019 Oklahoma himself, who exposed the bubbling belly of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s early days – he doesn’t try to hide how artificial and problematic these mid-century artifacts can be. In other words, even if it’s a love letter, that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to uncap his poisoned pen.
Key and Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong, neither of whom is foreign to the Broadway usurpation, stars as Josh and Melissa, a perfectly normal couple whose relationship, despite a magical start, ended after a few years of dating. In an attempt to rekindle the flame, they go camping and end up tripping over the town of Schmigadoon and find themselves trapped. Melissa, a musical theater freak, finds it charming, at least at first, but Josh has no patience for it all. The only way out of Schmigadoon is apparently to cross a bridge with his true love, but when they try to leave they find themselves in the land of music right away. Are they not made for each other?
Schmigadoon is both tangy enough and tight enough to hold up through the six roughly 30-minute episodes of its debut season.
While the final answer may already seem obvious, Schmigadoon is both tangy enough and tight enough to hold its own through the six roughly 30-minute episodes of its first season. (The first two episodes will be released on July 16, with one new episode per week thereafter.) The musical world doesn’t try to hide its artifice the way a large stage set doesn’t, and the way whose songs, performed by a handsome ensemble sporting grin grins, mingle with the more bitter conversations of Josh and Melissa, counterbalancing the sugary quality of the Golden Age productions on which he riffs. And when the pastel decors and carefully ironed costumes barely mask the misogyny and racism common to these relics, our protagonists, from today’s New York, do not hesitate to interrupt us to point it out. (A first song features the town men singing about how they spank their girlfriends when they are angry with them, and one character repeatedly alludes to his disapproval of interracial relationships.)
What the musical framing ultimately does, however, isn’t just make an excuse for the cast – which includes Broadway veterans like Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Jane Krakowski, and Ann Harada – to take to singing. , but provide a way for these characters to project their innermost thoughts onto the rafters. In this sense, the show is in a way the successor of shows like crazy ex-girlfriend, Galavant, Joy, and even To break. The songs might be out of date, but they are a way to get the characters to express their feelings out loud, even when the topics are heavier than you might find in older older productions. harmless. With that in mind, it’s crucial to the success of the series that Key and Strong play their roles absolutely right – at one point they even discuss the storylines of a few classic musicals in order to figure out what they’re supposed to be doing. then (for example buying a trumpet, at the The man of music). Unlike the characters in Joy, which are already caricatures of high school students, and the characters of To break, who are involved in a meta-narrative about the musical theater industry and the art-making process, the characters from Schmigadoon lean more towards the example given by crazy ex-girlfriend, in that they deliver the songs with a more ironic twist and only engage in songs, at least from Melissa’s part, in an erased way (although she commends the town, from the start, for its colorblind cast).
And the songs, oh, the songs. Many are dead ringers for other famous numbers (the Schmigadoon the versions of “Oklahoma” and “Ya Got Trouble” are instantly recognizable even though the melodies are not exactly the same, not to mention the fact that Henry Higgins and Baroness Schraeder are worn almost unchanged, as archetypes), and Part of the fun of the show is spotting references while enjoying the belts of some of Broadway’s biggest stars. But even for those new to music, the show takes care to explain a bit of what it’s kidding, and in the end, the real heart of the show is Josh and Melissa’s relationship, and the dysfunctions within. While the series clearly gives a nod to musical theater conventions and how silly they can be, it’s not cynical, tapping into the same flashing but ultimately heartfelt tone that makes classic musicals so appealing to. to start. Magic, it seems, is not just the provenance of fiction, especially when it comes to love. Each episode opens with a flashback to Melissa and Josh’s life in New York City, and while the color palette is drastically toned down for these scenes, there is still an intimacy in the little moments they share that seem special. SchmigadoonFull adherence to this philosophy is exactly what makes resistance so difficult. In just six episodes, it carefully concludes its story in a way that seems to end any questions about a second season, but it’s hard not to wish for an encore performance, if only because Paul and Daurio have created a musical paradise that showcases the magic of what we consider everyday and mundane.