It’s Friday, and I think it’s a perfect day to kick back and watch something lighthearted and fluffy, especially coming out of the heavy-hitting period dramas I’ve been watching lately. Fortunately, season two of Schmigadoon! (2021-) recently dropped on Apple+ and this time our intrepid, time-traveling couple, Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) have returned to the “real world” somewhat better for having spent an indeterminate amount of time trapped in the Brigadoon-esque musical world of Schmigadoon. They’ve saved their marriage and are more united than ever until reality begins creeping in, and they decide it’s time to try to find their way back to Schmigadoon to see if they can’t recapture some of that magic. Except things don’t exactly go as expected … Instead of the quaint little village of Schmigadoon, they find themselves crossing the enchanted bridge into the gritty underbelly of musical theater known as Schmicago.
In the first season, Josh and Melissa struggled with their desire to get married to one another. In the opening episode of the second season, they have tied the knot and are expecting marital bliss to carry them forward, but reality rapidly smacks them upside the heads once more.
Josh and Melissa are immediately greeted by a cast of characters they think they recognize from Schmigadoon, but they quickly realize that while the faces are familiar, the roles are different and no one seems to know them. They are, however, immediately swept into the drama unfolding around them in classic musical theater fashion. I would like to just drop in right here and let everyone know that the costumes were designed by Angus Strathie, whose work you’re probably familiar with from a little film called Moulin Rouge! (2001). It’s pretty obvious once our lovers find their way into Schmicago.
Even the least interested person in musical theater like myself can immediately identify at least three classic musical parodies in this photo alone.
Our heroes arrive in Schmicago dressed for quaint country village life, totally unprepared for seedy underbelly of Prohibition-Era life.
Josh and Melissa are immediately greeted by a new addition to this season’s cast, Tituss Burgess as “The Narrator,” who slyly seems to know more than they do about what lies ahead for them.
I would have to admit, I’d be looking for the exit right about now if it were me.
Ann Harada, who played the Mayor’s wife in the first season, returns as Madam Frau, the shady matron of the Kratt Klub who is a riff on Fräulein Schneider in Cabaret.
Dove Cameron returns as Jenny Banks, the chanteuse at the center of a murder mystery, who was obviously inspired by Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
And she gets some really fabulous outfits, to boot.
Ariana DeBose is the Emcee, whose entire look I would steal in a heartbeat, if only I had that jawline.
Speaking of fabulous, I particularly loved these outfits worn in Melissa’s big number after she’s hired on to replace the murdered dancer at the center of the plot. I’m a sucker for black & white stripes.
Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming return as Miss Codwell and Dooley Blight, respectively. Miss Codwell is clearly a mash-up of Miss Hannigan from Annie and Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Blight is straight-up referencing Sweeney, but rather than being a barber, he’s a butcher with a tragic backstory.
When Josh is accused of the murder of the dancer, he hires the only defence attorney in town willing to take on his case, the sexy Bobby Flanagan (Jane Krakowski). Her dance routine in court is one of the best sequences I’ve seen in a long time.
Another alum from the previous season is Aaron Tveit, who is recast as Topher, a hippie straight out of Hair (which, I will point out for anyone paying attention, was set in 1967, so it meets our pre-1969 cut-off date). Schmicago! is littered with characters that span the decades between the 1920s and the 1960s, with no real rhyme or reason.
I heartily recommend watching Schmigadoon! (2021-) season 2 with a classic cocktail of your choice. Sit back and enjoy the ride and let us know what you think in the comments!
Given the title and the Jane Krakowski “Bobby Flanagan” defense attorney, wouldn’t “Jenny Banks” be a mix of not only Sally Bowles from CABARET, but also Velma Kelly from CHICAGO?
Who’s the riff on Roxie Hart?
I haven’t seen the show, so I don’t know that there is a “Roxie Hart” equivalent.
But it just seemed that there was a nod to Velma Kelly along with the obvious Sally Bowles reference– particularly in the way the hairstyle and the costume shown in the group photo at the beginning of the article seem to be inspired by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the 2002 movie:
Probably also a soupçon of Threepenny Opera too! Love this series – hope the next one features the bustagutto musicals like Phantom, Wicked etc.!
I was living for this show – Jane Krakowski is an international treasure, nay, a planetary treasure!
One of the things I adored about this show is how fucking fearless Cecily Strong is – she has an admirable absence of vanity, and also – dammit, she is talented.
Lastly, Aaron Tveit is like the hottest things, doofy hair and all :)
(question – who was the “I’ll Drink to Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat” lady supposed to be riffing on? I was thinking Miss Hannigan, but she’s also represented in Chenowith’s character)
I think it references The song Ladies who lunch from Company by Sondheim
And Jane’s courtroom scene is an homage to her Emmy winning performance in Nine.