‘Schmigadoon!’: Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron & More Preview Apple’s Musical Extravaganza
Music, song, and dance, oh my! Prepare to enter the magical town of Schmigadoon! with Apple TV+’s musical comedy series from Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and executive producer Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live).
The show, premiering July 16, has a star-studded cast including a bevy of Broadway talent ranging from Aaron Tveit, Ann Harada, and Ariana Debose to Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. Add in leads Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong, playing a strained couple who stumble into the mystical land and can’t leave until they find true love, and you have one showstopping combo.
Guiding them along the way is director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Addams Family Values), but he wasn’t always sure he was the right fit. “I’ve never been a musical comedy kind of guy,” Sonnenfeld admits. “But everyone else seemed to think it was a great idea, so I signed on and discovered that I have a love of this kind of musical theater as it turns out.”
But despite taking influence from 1940s musicals, there’s a depth to Schmigadoon! that might not be so obvious on the surface, and Sonnenfeld was glad to bring it out. “People use words like parody and stuff,” he says, “but that seems to make you think it’s not going to be real, and it’s very real. The emotions are very real. The songs are heartfelt. No one’s winking at the camera.”
The characters really help drive this point home with the help of some nuanced performances from Tveit, Cameron, and Hadara, all of whom explore stereotypical roles in unique ways. Citizens of Schmigadoon, they interact with Melissa (Strong) and Josh (Key) upon their arrival.
“Danny Bailey is the town rapscallion or bad boy as it were,” Tveit teases of his character. “I basically serve to tempt Cecily’s character away from Keegan, as they’re at odds in the town, and kind of get to live all of my Carousel-Billy Bigelow, leading man, Gene Kelly dreams in the show. It’s pretty awesome.”
As Tveit’s Danny woos Melissa, Cameron’s character has her eye on Josh. “My character is kind of like a mirror image in terms of what their purpose is,” Cameron shares. “I play Betsy McDonough, the farmer’s daughter who is basically the temptress to lure Keegan away.”
“We’re both townspeople [within] those classic musical tropes,” Cameron continues. “[We’re] sort of ideas of these oversexed characters.” Add in some witty lyrics and catchy compositions, and it’s one hell of a time.
On the less “oversexed” side is Harada’s Florence Menlove, spouse of Schmigadoon’s mayor (Cumming). “I think of her as sort of like a classic trope of the very loving, supportive wife,” Harada says. “She’s the wife of the most important man in Schmigadoon, so she’s very devoted to his re-election and his status in the community. She also genuinely adores him, and I think there’s something to be said for that kind of selfless love.”
Together, these characters and more will serve to teach Melissa and Josh some life lessons, just as much as the progressive couple will help break norms in Schmigadoon. “I think that’s exactly what the show pulls off really well,” says Tveit. “At the outset, these people are kind of one-note, they’re very stereotypical. But I think the fact that Cecily and Keegan kind of serve as the audience’s eyes into this world, there’s something with those two realities budding up against each other.”
Don’t miss the musical event. Pay a visit to Schmigadoon! yourself.
Schmigadoon!, Series Premiere, Friday, July 16, Apple TV+