Find out why “Schmigadoon! »Worth making a song and dancing

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Of Central park at Ted lasso, Apple TV + has carved out a niche for creative, heartwarming, and intelligent comedy, and Schmigadoon! is no different.

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key play a couple who accidentally find themselves in a magical musical town reminiscent of a classic Hollywood musical. The problem is, they can’t leave until they find true love. In addition to Strong and Key, Schmigadoon! Also has an ensemble cast which includes Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Dove Cameron, Jane Krakowski and Fred Armisen, among others.

I caught up with Strong, co-creator Cinco Paul, and director Barry Sonnenfeld to talk about the six-part musical that holds the tongue firmly in his cheek.

Simon Thompson: Was it hard to get Schmigadoon! made? Music TV shows can be a tough sell. For every Glee, there is at least one Cop Rock.

Cinco Paul: How dare you slander rock cop, one of my favorite shows of all time.

Cecile Forte: i learn Cop Rock. This is the second time that it has come back, and we are talking about it today.

Paul: I could talk about it rock cop all day. I loved rock cop when he came out. What you say is true, however. Fortunately, I found partners and teamed up early on with people who understood the vision and loved it. Lorne Michaels was very enthusiastic about it right away and Apple loved it. Kevin and I introduced it to the room, we sang our little hearts out, we literally sang “Corn Pudding” to them, and that was it. It was really lucky, but I also think television has changed. There is room for a little show like this that goes off the beaten track and is different.

Barry Sonnenfeld: When I got involved, all the fighting was over, thank goodness because I heard it had taken years. When I arrived, Broadway Video was already working with Cinco and Apple. There were already six episodes and iterations of some of the songs. I wasn’t involved in the machinations to see how the show was put on. It was all Cinco and executive producers Andrew Singer and Lorne Michaels.

Thompson: And let’s talk about the name Schmigadoon! Did you have any reservations about this?

Paul: Finding the name was actually one of the keys for me to think it could be a TV show. It was the first track we came up with, and I felt like we were in the world of musicals, but we laugh at them and have fun with them. There was sometimes reluctance from people like us, ‘We can’t call a show Schmigadoon! It’s the working title, isn’t it? Honestly, nothing else to suggest everything this title did, so luckily it stuck. I have succeeded.

Thompson: Were there any other suggestions?

Paul: There was Musical Town and Bridge To A Musical. There were quite a few. Once you have Schmigadoon!, everything else is nothing in comparison.

Thompson: While this has a lot in common with classic Hollywood musicals, not all of you are die-hard fans.

Paul: When it comes to my influences for that, it’s almost 99% of the musicals and those movie and stage musicals that I love, but I’ve rubbed a bit It’s a wonderful life all that too. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve always wanted to do something that has that spirit, that value of life, and in the face of the dark and the tough things, there’s hope and optimism and a reason to live. It’s absolutely in there.

Strong: Cinco and Chris sent me a lot of things. Cinematically, the dance of Sing in the rain, indulging in that, it’s so beautiful it makes me cry, and I wanted it to feel like this and the barn is dancing with Judy Garland in Summer stock. I think just watching those scenes, seeing the dances, was very helpful to me.

Sonnenfeld: I’m not a big fan of old school musicals, those MGM musicals from the 40’s and 50’s. Some were good, some were not. I studied the good ones, like Sing in the rain. I also like other stuff like Pennies from the sky with Steve Martin, The meaning of Monty Python’s life, and that of Milos Foreman Hair.

Thompson: Barry, as a director, did you have a clear vision of what you wanted to do and didn’t want to bring classics to it?

Sonnenfeld: What I learned from old musicals is that they pull dance numbers from head to toe, so you can see the whole person dancing. I tended to cut. Most musicals have too many inserts and close-ups, and I wanted to stay wider. I firmly believe that the camera can be not only a recording device, but also a narration device. The choice of a lens and a camera position are essential to the success of this genre of musicals. I tend to use wide lenses, which makes the audience feel like they’re in the dance numbers with the dancers. Tonally for me, even though we are in a musical, all the actors have to act out the reality of the stage and not the comedy or silliness of the stage. They don’t try to be funny, and they don’t try to be cute; they are the character of this scene.

Thompson: Have you had conversations about more Schmigadoon!? Could there be other places with other musical styles? Could you do more with the world?

Paul: I have some ideas, and I hope we have a chance to explore some of them. In many ways, this season is a complete story. I would definitely love it. I love this crazy cast so much, so I want to work with them forever.

Strong: I want to see what people are like. In a second season, I could see what everyone behind the camera looks like because they all had masks for this one as we were shooting it during the pandemic. That being said, it was still kind of very intimate and a very loving setting, so it was there, but that didn’t stop us from connecting. Honestly, it was one of the most loving and encouraging sets I have ever been on. And funny too.

Sonnenfeld: For so many reasons, building this world was very similar to my work for Netflix over the three years of A series of unfortunate events. Both this series of shows and Schmigadoon! were all shot on stage. This allowed us to control every element of the visual storytelling, from the lighting and painted supports to the artificial turf. It is a world that we have created. Where is A series of unfortunate events? Where is Schmigadoon!? Is it a real place? When is this happening? Grow daisies is another place I have been with both reality and fantasy. It’s something that I love to do.

Thompson: Finally, Barry, you touched on the worlds you built and danced, and you did both of those things in The Addams Family, which turns 30 this year. Do you have any plans to mark this occasion?

Sonnenfeld: Funny, you should ask that. I didn’t know it was November, but I’m currently working with Paramount Pictures to create a new 4K version of The Addams Family. We hand over the entire interpretation of Mamushka. There’s a good song and dance number, and we cut it in half at the last minute for the original release. I convinced Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures to hand over the entire issue. I watched it, and it’s just amazing. Raul Julia is so amazing in this issue. I’m so glad people can finally see this.

Schmigadoon! debuts on Apple TV + on Friday, June 16, 2021.


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