Galavant: What's in the Wings for the Musical-Comedy Mash-Up
At first glance, ABC's new musical-comedy series Galavant has more in common with a down-on-your-luck country song than a pedigreed Disney fairy tale. After all, the titular character is a knight who falls on hard times when his soul mate, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), chooses fortune over love and marries the vain and evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson). Heartbroken, Galavant (Joshua Sasse) trades honor and valor—not to mention bathing—for booze, self-pity, and a spare tire. "He's a once-great hero who has fallen apart," says creator Dan Fogelman (who also wrote Tangled). "This will be the story of him coming back to life."
Well, the journey should have quite a soundtrack. For this ambitious project—which was filmed outside London and will air for four weeks with back-to-back weekly episodes—Fogelman is reteaming with some Tangled collaborators, lyricist Glenn Slater and Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken. "We’re doing around 30 original songs, and every time, I'd think, 'Oh, this is the one I can't get out of my head,'" says Fogelman. "Then I'd hear the next one."
As for who will be delivering the ditties, Sasse is a classically trained British stage actor with a fondness for playing the ass. "I'm the brunt of every joke," he says. "I love that we're not watching someone win the whole time." He'll have some assistance on playing the fool: Galavant finds a new love interest in the feisty Princess Isabella of Valencia (Karen David), who enlists him to help save her people from the clutches of King Richard. "She puts Galavant in his place," says David. "Of course they're perfect for each other, except they don't initially see it that way."
While they're figuring it out, the lovebirds will encounter hurdles aplenty courtesy of the increasingly power-drunk Madalena, "a beautiful maiden who evolves into the ultimate bad guy," says Fogelman—plus a bevy of guest stars, including John Stamos as Galavant's old nemesis, Downton Abbey patriarch Hugh Bonneville as a pirate, "Weird Al" Yankovic as a monk, and comedian Ricky Gervais as "a medieval wizard named Xanax who lives at home with his mom."
If this screwy amalgamation of tone and genre—imagine a cross between The Princess Bride, Monty Python, and Once Upon a Time—strikes a chord with audiences, then expect more happily ever afters to come. "By the end of the run, we will have set up a new adventure for the characters," says Fogelman. "My hope is that this will capture the zeitgeist. I can picture the whole family watching together—or college students enjoying it with a beverage of their choice."
Sundays, 8/7c, ABC