Schmicago: Schmigadoon!’s Second Season Is Grittier

Episode 1. Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in season 2 of "Schmigadoon!," premiering April 7, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Schmigadoon! moves away from the 1940s and 1950s musicals and takes viewers into the grittier Schmicago of the 1960s and 1970s.

The transition into the next pair of decades means not being as brightly colored like the 1940s and 1950s. That’s not to say that it’s not entirely gritty because of Schmicago’s take on musicals like Godspell and Hair. In any event, this season owes a lot to both Chicago, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd. There’s new music from Cinco Paul and composer Chris Willis and this is one of the biggest treats of all. The main cast members get their moment in the sun just like the first season. Unfortunately, some of the cast don’t have the same amount of screen time as others. We’ll see what happens in a potential third season–just please don’t do Shmicats.

My in-depth review of Schmicago follows below the photo.

Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in season 2 of Schmigadoon!
Episode 5. Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in season 2 of “Schmigadoon!,” premiering April 7, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) find themselves struggling after returning to New York. While they found happiness in Schmigadoon, their daily life becomes routine and starts feeling a bit stale. They decide that it’s time to return to Schmigadoon, only retracing their steps doesn’t work. Next thing you know, they find themselves in the world of 60s and 70s musicals in Schmicago. It’s different especially now with Tituss Burgess narrating their life. But almost as soon as they arrive, Josh finds himself being arrested for murder. So much for going home because now they have to get Josh out of prison! This new world has showgirls, a butcher, an orphanage, crooked lawyers, cops, a commune, and a cabaret. Not surprisingly, the cabaret is also owned by the greedy Octavius Kratt (Patrick Page) with his own agenda.

Bob Fosse fans will have plenty to enjoy about the new season. Meanwhile, the Kratt Klub plays home to many numbers this season, let alone a murder investigation. In any event, they heed the advice of the Leprechaun (Martin Short) if they ever want to get back home again. But to get Josh out of jail means Melissa taking on a gig at the club and do her own investigation. She crosses paths with some familiar faces but they’re in very different roles, including entertainer Jenny Banks (Dove Cameron). It’s just like going to a theater as the cast puts on a different show. Anyway, Melissa is not as familiar with this world of musicals. Meanwhile, Kratt Klub regulars include the corrupt cop, Sgt. Rivera (Jaime Camil) and Madam Frau (Ann Harada). Ariana DeBose puts on one hell of a show with a rousing Dreamgirls-esque number.

But amid all the grittiness and sinister plans, you still can’t help but root for these characters. Maybe not the sinister ones–the only thing one roots for their is justice. Where Schmigadoon had strife and tribulation, Schmicago has it, too, but not in quite the same way. There’s corruption all over the place! Again, this also speaks to what sorts of musicals were on Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s. There were the pop rock musicals, the traditional old-school musicals, and then of course, the late Stephen Sondheim. To say that Cinco Paul puts in the work in paying homage in the new songs would not be an understatement.

In terms of musicals, there’s a few different storylines going on here. One deals with Miss Codwell (Kristin Chenoweth), her Home for Unwanted Children orphanage, and the city’s butcher, Dooley Blight (Alan Cumming). The butcher is a very complex but fascinating character to watch throughout the second season. These two have got some dark numbers on hand this season.

Topher (Aaron Tveit) is quite the character. He’s certainly a hippie and peace-loving character out of the likes of Godspell and Hair. While Melissa does her own investigation, Josh ends up being paired up with Topher as his cellmate. Topher’s commune might not be for everyone, not when “Everyone’s Gotta Get Naked.”

If you ever wanted to know how Jane Krakowski would portray a lawyer in a musical, look no further than Bobby Flanagan. Her character is a vamp and certainly gets all the attention in the courtroom. She’s got one of the breakout numbers in “Bells and Whistles.” As for whether or not her clients will follow her advice, well, you’ll just have to tune in and watch!

The production and costume designers have their work cut out this season. Again, they have to design an entirely new world, one that’s darker although there are areas of the show that are brighter. Everyone is crushing it here, from the cast to the crew behind the camera. The songs might be different and the show might not have the same magical tone as two years ago but the six episodes go by in a breeze.

Audiences might not find “Corn Puddin'” in Schmicago but Schmigadoon‘s second season finds the comedy amid the grittiness and sinister side of the 60s and 70s musicals.

CO-CREATORS: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
DIRECTORS: Alice Mathias, Robert Luketic
WRITERS: Cinco Paul, Jonathan Tolins, Julie Klausner, Raina Morris, Josh Lieb
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Lorne Michaels, Cinco Paul, Andrew Singer
CAST: Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Dove Cameron, Jaime Camil, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, Ann Harada, Jane Krakowski, Patrick Page, Martin Short, Aaron Tveit

Apple TV will launch the season 2 of Schmigadoon! on April 5, 2023 with the first two episodes, followed by one new episode weekly, every Wednesday through May 3, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.