Review: 'Schmigadoon!' - For the Lovers and Haters of Musicals

by Rob Lester

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 30, 2021

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in 'Schmigadoon!' premiering July 16, 2021 on Apple TV+
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in 'Schmigadoon!' premiering July 16, 2021 on Apple TV+  (Source:AppleTV+)

Defying logic, "Schmigadoon!" is right on target to please two very opposite target audiences: Those who love musicals, and those who think musicals are, well, kind of stupid.

The first group (I'm a lifetime member) sees affectionately savvy and sassy satire, lapping up "inside" nods to beloved Broadway classics with Cinco Paul's plucky, peppy pastiche songs. The theatre-hesitant will sneer gleefully, emboldened and validated as clichés cascade fast, furious, and funny. Their basic objection to old-school musicals is an old complaint: It's just too ludicrous to accept people suddenly bursting into song at the drop of a hat. And many a metaphorical hat is dropped in "Schmigadoon!"

Quips and put-downs fly, but there's a charming sweetness in spots, too. Here come those mindlessly merry villagers cheerfully opining and dancing in unison. They can't stop with the showstoppers to show their feelings.

What's the deal with this frozen-in-the-past town and its sweet, but odd, citizenry? That's the puzzlement for the couple (the engaging Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, experts at baffled and testy reactions) who stumble upon them, as in Lerner and Loewe's "Brigadoon." But most of the parallels reference Rodgers & Hammerstein shows, including a number with "Do Re Mi" as a model (though here it's used to teach how babies are conceived). We see the couple in flashbacks, surveying their romantic high moments as, in the present, we see their relationship tested and torn apart, with potential new loves among the local Schmigadoonians. (Is that the word?) Aaron Tveit is charismatic, with the right hint of danger, as one prominent prospect, based on "Carousel"'s brooding male lead.

There's a winking gay element amid the heterosexual coupling and uncoupling. It's fun to see the decimation of denial, with "out" actor Alan Cumming playing the mayor, presenting him first as contented husband to Ann Harada as his how-naive-is-she wife. Not all the stars show up in early (or most) episodes, but Kristin Chenoweth, as the self-satisfied bigot, is worth the wait.

"Schmigadoon!" is, in a word, a hoot!

"Schmigadoon!" is streaming now exclusively on Apple TV+.

ROB LESTER returns to Edge in 2019 after several years of being otherwise occupied writing and directing musical theatre shows, working as a dramaturg, arts consultant, and contributing articles and reviews to various outlets. His long-running "Sound Advice" column covering cast albums and vocal CDs has been running regularly at for almost 15 years.