‘Schmigadoon!’ pays tribute to classic Hollywood musicals

Rick's Reviews

“Schmigadoon” inspired by classic Hollywood musicals. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

(KGET) — “Schmigadoon!,” a new musical comedy series that debuts July 16 on the streaming service Apple TV+, takes its main plot and music cues from the 1954 Hollywood musical “Brigadoon.” In that film, two Americans on a hunting trip in Scotland find a town that rises from the mists for a day every 100 years.

The new series follows a young couple (Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key) who discover a magical town while on a backpacking trip. Everyone there is living in a studio musical from the 1940s. The only way the couple can leave is to find true love.

The first season of six episodes takes some serious and comical jabs at the tropes of the film musical genre. That doesn’t mean Key is ready to define “Schmigadoon!” as a parody. He recognizes the series deals with a mystical overtone for the townspeople who love to harmonize.

“It’s funny.  Parody is a term that we could use. But, also, I guess in a manner of speaking, deconstruction. A deconstruction of the musical, while we’re also respecting the musical,” Key says.

There’s no question Key knows a parody when he sees one. He’s been involved with plenty of parodies through his work on “Mad TV,” “Key and Peele” and “Hotwives” (a parody of the “Housewives” reality shows).

Executive producer Cinco Paul wrote all of the original music for the series. He agrees with Key’s view of the series.

“I think ‘Schmigadoon!’ is an aspirational place.  It’s a place that we wish we were living in,” Paul says. “I think we’re celebrating the musicals.

“But, like Keegan said, we’re using this as an opportunity to deconstruct them and sort of comment on things that were maybe problematic and here, let’s make them better.  And I think that was a lot of what we were doing with this show is trying to focus on the positive and lift everything up.”

The key for Strong was just to have fun with the elements so familiar to fans of the genre. She sees the driving force of the series to be the comedy designed to make people feel happy.

The cast of “Schmigadoon!” also includes Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada.

Paul says, “The show is demanding.  We wanted people to sing live on the set and dance.  And so, we really wanted to get a wide variety of real musical theater talent.

“It was very important that these people have legit chops so that they could pull that off.”

“The Beast Must Die,” 10 p.m. July 12, AMC

Cush Jumbo knew talking on the lead role in the new AMC series, “The Beast Must Die” would be tough emotionally. That’s why she agreed to play Francis Cairnes, a mother who looks to find the person who fatally hit and run her young son.

When the police investigation is dropped, Cairnes does her own manhunt. She eventually poses as a novelist researching a new murder-mystery to get access to the family of George Rattery (Jared Harris), the man she suspects is responsible. She plays to kill him.

“I knew that the scale on which Frances was operating was really going to go from zero to a hundred,” Jumbo says. “I was drawn towards it emotionally.  I have a two-year-old son myself.  And it was about the murder of a young child.

“I guess I was able to relate to that.”

The emotional elements were only a part of the challenge for the British actor. Jumbo also went through extensive physical training to be able to handle everything from stunts to sailing. She had never gone swimming in the ocean before this role. That all was a major change for Jumbo who is best known for her work on “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight.”

Jumbo believes that because she tends to mostly get cast in dramas, she is thought of as a tough person who can deal with dark projects. No other acting job pushed Jumbo more than “The Beast Must Die.” The anchor for her was the script by Gaby Chiappe based on the novel of same name by Cecil Day-Lewis.

“To be able to just focus on the story and what you should be doing to kind of let that story pass through you was such a joy, almost for me, almost on a Shakespearean level,” Jumbo says. “I think that’s because it comes from a story of the past where the stakes of things would’ve been so much higher.  So it felt Shakespearean, it felt epic, and that came through in the writing.

“I was kind of pushed as an actor and pushed in myself. I just so wanted it to be good. I so wanted it to be good.  So yeah, I think I got stretched.”

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