W.if he doesn’t like musicals, he’s in good company here: Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) also finds her annoying and embarrassing. That is why he does not react very pleased when he crosses a bridge with his girlfriend Melissa (Cecily Strong) on a hike to strengthen their emotional connection and suddenly ends up in Schmigadoon: a world that emerged from the musical “Oklahoma!” 1940s. Singing and dancing villagers in frilled skirts included. Mel is a little impressed – but only until she realizes they are trapped. One can only return to the outside world over the bridge with one’s true love. And Josh and Mel fail: If they step on the bridge together, only Schmigadoon can be seen at the other end.
So the two of them have to come to terms with the situation first – just like the villagers. Because it’s the forties, people turn up their noses in horror at the fact that Josh and Mel are not married. After all, the relationship, which has already been cracked by its perfectionism and its closeness, soon falls apart, so that everything is morally impeccable again. Nevertheless, the pastor’s wife Mildred (wonderfully mean: Kristin Chenoweth) is angry about the new customs that have taken hold with the two New Yorkers and fights them with all means. It’s a very weird world that the audience looks into here, and an extremely entertaining one.
References to musicals
Josh describes Schmigadoon as a combination of “The Walking Dead” and “Glee”, but the true origin of the story lies elsewhere: in Thuringia. There Friedrich Gerstäcker wrote his story “Germelshausen” in the middle of the 19th century about a man who is taken to his village by a girl and who later looks for it in vain. Because Germelshausen can only be found for one day every hundred years. The musical “Brigadoon” from 1947 (made into a film with Gene Kelly in 1954), in which two friends find themselves in a similar village, is based on this story. One falls in love, but they go back to New York anyway – until love drives him back to Brigadoon. As the name suggests, this musical, together with “Oklahoma!”, Was the inspiration for “Schmigadoon!”.
It’s not just the title that is an allusion. There are also references to Broadway musicals in the music, the scenery, the dance scenes and the dialogues. They should go unnoticed by the majority of the German audience, but that doesn’t matter, because “Schmigadoon!” Lives from other things, from its quick dialogues, its gags and its fantastic ensemble. Showrunner Cinco Paul not only wrote the script together with Ken Daurio, but also wrote catchy tunes (the third episode sets new standards with “Cross That Bridge”).
Director Barry Sonnenfeld has already shown with “Addam’s Family” and “Men in Black” how courageously and charmingly he can draw alternative worlds. Lead actress and producer Cecily Strong belongs to the ensemble of “Saturday Night Live”, her colleague Keegan-Michael Key is part of the comedy duo Key & Peele. You will be flanked by such familiar faces as Alan Cummings and Jane Krakowski. Ariana DeBose graces the series with her strong vocals and warm presence. It seems as if music-loving Hollywood and half of Broadway were just waiting for this project.
“Schmigadoon!” Is not just a musical film, it is a meta-musical, an ironic commentary on musicals – right through to Mel’s laudatory mention of the “color-blind casting”. Similar to the immensely underrated series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, the music and its effect are played here, even if the lyrics and the plot are not quite as sophisticated. So far, only two episodes are online on Apple TV +, a new one is added every Friday, and here’s the big objection to the series: It only consists of six episodes. It is a pleasure to watch Mel and Josh as they attack each other, orientate themselves differently, struggle with their new reality and still cannot escape its attraction. Neither does the audience.
Schmigadoon!, new episodes on Fridays on Apple TV +