The Lorne Michaels-produced Schmigadoon!, starring Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, is an homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals
If you’re a fan of classic Hollywood or Broadway musicals, you’re going to enjoy this musical comedy. You certainly don’t have to be a fan of Broadway to enjoy the show. This is a series with catchy tunes by Cinco Paul and excellent choreography. Once we enter the world of Schmigadoon, they certainly know how to get our attention! It probably helps to be familiar with Oklahoma!, Carousel, Brigadoon, The Music Man, and The King and I. What I can say is that there’s one piece where Cecily Strong pays an homage to The Sound of Music by singing about vaginas. You’ll know this when you see it.
The gist of the six-episode series is that Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) are backpacking as way of getting their relationship going in the right direction. They’ve been having issues as a couple and so they’re hoping that the experience could do the trick. Unbeknownst to them, they get lost and travel off the beaten path. Next thing you know, they end up in this magical location where everybody sings and dances like they’re in a musical. The two of them are clearly a fish-out-of-water but Melissa is less reluctant than Josh. Josh thinks hammers flying back is magic. However, there is one catch to the town and it’s that they can’t leave until they find true love. And this, dear readers, is where the series finds itself playing along traditional rom-com beats. But even though they do, they freshen it up through the six episodes.
Aesthetically speaking, I love the design. The production design certainly plays up the fact that they’re in a 1940s musical. You can feel it in the way the sets are painted or how we see the background behind them while driving. But despite the fact that they’re in a 40s musical, they pay homage to a number of musicals from the 1950s. They’re definitely stuck in a Golden Age musical, make no mistake about this.
I went into the series without watching the trailer. Whether or not this turned out to be a good thing, I don’t know. What I can say is that I had a lot of fun watching. Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are some of the funniest people working on the planet. Both the writing and music plays to their strengths. This isn’t a case of, oh, let’s try something that works as a bit and stretch it into a series. This is a show that takes itself seriously even if the idea itself might be preposterous. That’s the joy of watching fish-out-of-water comedies like this. Anyway, both are veterans of the Chicago improv scene and Apple has a good thing going when it comes to Chicago improvisers between Schmigadoon! and Ted Lasso.
One thing I did note is that the finale is labeled a season finale. Does this mean that we’ll be getting more catchy tunes in another year? I don’t know but one thing is for certain: I need the soundtrack ASAP! For what it’s worth, I also say this as someone who is really picky when it comes to musicals.
Schmigadoon! would make Rodgers and Hammerstein proud.
SHOWRUNNER: Cinco Paul
CO-CREATORS: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Lorne Michaels, Andrew Singer
CAST: Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, with Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski, and Ann Harada
GUEST STAR: Martin Short