“Schmigadoon!” burst onto Apple TV+ to deliver musical comedy heaven during a time in the pandemic where live performance was still impossible to find. With Broadway temporarily shuttered, a cast of seasoned theater performers instead stormed our TV screens. They sang songs that were a heart-warming homage to classic musicals of the 1940s and gave a weary world a much needed boost of joy.
To celebrate this love letter to musical theatre, watch our special 40-minute “Making of” roundtable discussion with six key creatives – actors Jaime Camil, Kristin Chenoweth, Ann Harada, Jane Krakowski and Aaron Tveit, plus co-creator, executive producer, writer, and showrunner Cinco Paul. The host is Gold Derby contributor Sam Eckmann for a lively Q&A. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“Schmigadoon!” was created by Paul and Ken Daurio, about two jaded New Yorkers Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Paul (Keegan-Michael Key) who embark on a backpacking trip in an attempt to save their failing relationship. While lost in the woods, the pair stumble upon the town of Schmigadoon: where every resident is inspired by characters from Golden Age musicals, and the entire populace frequently breaks out into song and dance. Melissa and Paul discover that they are stuck in Schmigadoon until they can find true love, and the couple soon becomes intertwined with the citizens in a delightful love letter to classic musical theatre.
The Apple TV+ series holds an impressive 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Chenoweth, who performs an impressive “Music Man” style patter song in a single take, earned a Comedy Supporting Actress nomination from the Critics Choice Awards; Bo Welch’s lush, candy-colored production design was nominated by the Art Directors Guild; the episode “Suddenly” was nominated for outstanding sound editing at the Golden Reel Awards, and the soundtrack to Episode 1 (which contains the title song and “Corn Puddin”) was nominated at the Grammys.
“Schmigadoon!” has spent decades gestating in the head of its creator before reaching our screens. “I had the idea, or the germ of the idea, about 25 years ago,” admits Paul, “The TV landscape has changed with streaming. There’s room for a show as nuts as this.” Krakowski suggests that the series is so infectious that a love of musical theatre isn’t required to appreciate its charms, but Paul’s scripts provide extra engagement for Broadway aficionados. “If you know musicals, you get even another level of enjoyment out of it,” she states. Tveit chimes in that the cast was especially thankful for the classic musical references. “I’ve always wanted to play Billy Bigelow,” admits the actor, who’s character Danny is partly based on that central figure from “Carousel.” “So I kind of got to live out all of my Billy Bigelow dreams here in Schmigadoon!” he says with a chuckle.
It’s clear that the ensemble became a tightly knit family during the filming process, which was no small endeavor since production took place in a pre-vaccine period of the global pandemic. “We were just so damn happy to be there, doing what we love,” exclaims Chenoweth. For a group of Broadway veterans, this was their only opportunity to perform a musical at the time of filming. Still, Chenoweth reveals that intense Covid precautions ensured that “we got to see each other so sparingly.” Harada jokingly adds: “nobody saw Jane, I don’t think,” in reference to Krakowski’s guest appearance towards the end of the season. Krakowski sees the restrictions as a blessing in disguise however. “I think in a way, that kind of then led to us all being closer throughout the whole process…our friendship and our bonding as a cast actually lasted longer than filming.” Camil agrees, referencing the cast’s still-thriving group chat. “For some reason,” he muses, “without mingling the way we wanted to…the friendship got super strong.” Just like the characters Melissa and Paul, “Schmigadoon! Helped these actors to love each other. It’s a love that radiates through the screen on gorgeous, hilarious, melodies.
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