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Cast of Schmigadoon! Flex Their Creativity With a Wink

Dove Cameron, Jane Krakowski and Aaron Tveit on the musicals that inspired season two’s darker edge. 

by Ryan Hook

If Schmigadoon! could be boiled down to a few things, it would be a wink and a nudge.

“It’s like an inside joke,” actress Dove Cameron tells RANGE Magazine. “You have to play these characters with enough self-awareness that the audience knows you’re parodying [musicals], and [also] lovingly recreating them.” 

The Apple TV+ satirical musical-comedy series, from creators Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, is a pastiche of classic musicals, featuring an expansive cast of familiar faces. Rather than bringing in a new cast, many actors have returned from season one to play different characters this season. That fact is often pointed out by lead characters Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong). 

After the events of season one, Josh and Melissa—now married and in love—settle back into their lives away from Schmigadoon. A few years have passed, and they now begin to realize how much they miss the magical town.

So, dressed in silly old-timey outfits, they head into the woods, hoping to find the magical entrance to Schmigadoon again. But instead, they end up in Schmicagowhich is as obvious a nod to the musical Chicago as the musical was to the city.

This season takes on a darker, grittier, tone—nearer to the musicals of the 60s and 70s than the glimmering optimism of the 30s and 40s musicals the first season was inspired by.

Our lead characters, like in season one, act as audience surrogates: Josh as the musical theatre uninitiated, and Melissa, as the theatre nerd. Melissa even admits that she isn’t as fond of this era’s musicals as she was of the golden era of the previous season.

Besides the obvious Chicago inspiration, the show’s set design, characters, and musical numbers (written by the creator, Paul) pay tribute to a variety of musicals.

Episode 1. Dove Cameron in Schmigadoon!, premiering April 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Dove Cameron’s fast-talking, chair-dancing Jenny Banks is straight out of Cabaret; Tony-award winner Aaron Tveit leads a tribe of fabled hippies that looked like they were picked out of an ensemble of  Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar; and Jane Krakowski’s fast and loose gender-swapped character Bobbie Flanagan has the same wise-cracking attitude and cut-and-dry humour of celebrity lawyer Billy Flynn from Chicago

“These are the musicals I love—from the 60s and 70s—and I cherish every word of them,” Krakowski tells RANGE. 

Krakowski’s passion for the material explodes onto the screen, and the creators made sure she could pay homage to her roots in musical theatre too.  “One of [Bobbie’s] bells and whistles is that she can rollerskate,” she said. “Because I made my Broadway debut in Starlight Express,” – a production famous for being performed entirely by actors on wheels – “production said, ‘Let’s get her some roller skates.’” 

Episode 2. Jane Krakowski in Schmigadoon!, premiering April 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

From the set design and costumes to the original music and acting, Tveit told RANGE he wanted to join the show because of how much opportunity there is “to flex all of your muscles at one time.”

“We’re very lucky to walk in all these avenues and mediums. [Schmigadoon] combines all of them in a really cool way,” he says. “Like, all the musical content I have done in my career on camera has been live [as opposed to lip synched].”

Schmigadoon! appeals to the cast like a swiss army knife appeals to a handyman. Theatre fans will love the series for its tidbits and dramatic irony. New viewers will likely enjoy that the show offers little golden nuggets that lead down more musical theatre rabbit holes.

Above all, this show is fun, on and off screen.

“Everyone’s tickling each other, or playing instruments, or being so stupid,” Cameron said about the cast and set. There’s so much care and so much ease with this cast it makes me a better performer.”

You can catch the first two episodes of Schmigadoon!’s second season premiere April 5 on Apple TV+ with subsequent episodes debuting each Wednesday.

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