Tribulation! Don’t underestimate the ‘Schmigadoon!’ ensemble at the SAG Awards

Several TV series have featured special musical episodes during their runs, but “Schmigadoon!” from Apple TV+ is a rarity: an entire series dedicated to musical storytelling. Over the course of its six episodes, the show parodies golden age tuners like “The Music Man,” “Carousel,” and “Finian’s Rainbow” to great effect. The large cast, consisting of TV and stage favorites, gets a perfect showcase for their triple threat talents. “Schmigadoon!” currently sits in 18th place in Gold Derby’s combined odds for SAG Comedy Ensemble. However, considering the amount of boxes these actors tick off for awards voters, it is likely that we are underestimating this show’s chances for the SAG Comedy Ensemble category.

“Schmigadoon!” is a perfect performance showcase. Each episode features several full production numbers, with pitch perfect vocals and impressive choreography. One moment, Cecily Strong is educating young lovers about reproduction in a hysterical riff on “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music.” In the next, Kristin Chenoweth delivers rapid fire lyrics akin to “Trouble” from “The Music Man” in a single-take tour de force. Whether the performers are seriously committed to their over-the-top stock characters (like Alan Cumming’s closeted Mayor “Menlove”), or they’re rolling their eyes at the corny outbursts of song (like Keegan-Michael Key’s fish-out-of-water Josh), it’s clear everyone is having a ball.

It’s also worth noting that these performers are highly regarded in the industry. Key is a SAG Comedy Ensemble nominee for “Key and Peele,” which also won him an Emmy. Strong recently scored back to back Emmy nominations for “Saturday Night Live.” Chenoweth has two SAG Drama Ensemble nominations for “The West Wing.” Those are in addition to her Tony win (“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”) and Emmy win (“Pushing Daisies”). Ironically, one of her five Emmy nominations is for co-hosting the 2015 Tony Awards with “Schmigadoon” co-star Alan Cumming. He won a Tony of his own for “Cabaret,” is a four-time Emmy nominee, and scored two SAG Drama Ensemble nominations for “The Good Wife.” Then there’s Jane Krakowski, who shows up in the last few episodes to steal the show. She has two past victories in SAG Comedy Ensemble thanks to “Ally McBeal” and “30 Rock,” five Emmy nominations, and a Tony win for “Nine.”

It’s not only the most decorated cast members who will bring voter attention to “Schmigadoon!” Aaron Tveit has put in his dues for quite some time (he was part of the SAG nominated ensemble of “Les Miserables”). This year, after years of Tony snubs and waiting out a pandemic, he finally won a Tony for “Moulin Rouge!” and delivered one of the most heartfelt speeches of the night. Ariana DeBose also doesn’t come to the table with a vast awards haul (though she did pick up a Tony nomination for playing Donna Summer in “Summer”), but she’s been hailed as a true MVP of “Schmigadoon.” That’s thanks to athletic dance numbers and a refreshing confidence she brings to her “school marm.” She’s also featured in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of “West Side Story” as Anita, a role which won Rita Moreno an Oscar, and one that will surely put DeBose in the center of this year’s awards season.

Indeed, “Schmigadoon” has the good fortune of premiering in a year rich with musicals on screen. 2021 has seen film adaptations of “Cyrano,” “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” “In the Heights,” “tick, tick…Boom!,” and the aforementioned “West Side Story.” SAG voters send in ballots for film and TV, and unlike previous years, the sheer number of musical projects will get any Broadway-averse voters to grow comfortable with their screen actors belting out a tune. Not that they needed much persuading when the show tune-centric “Glee” scored a SAG Comedy Ensemble win. They nominated that series four times in this category.

“Schmigadoon” boasts a large cast with a mix of beloved names, exciting newcomers, and respected “in the trenches” actors. Considering the vast opportunities that this show affords its actors to show off their skills, we shouldn’t count out a surprise nomination for “Schmigadoon” at this year’s SAG Awards.

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