'Schmigadoon' review: You'll be laughing your head off

'Schmigadoon' review: You'll be laughing your head off

07/16/2021

If you love musicals or especially if you don’t, “Schmigadoon!” — now streaming for six episodes on Apple TV+ — is just the devilish curveball you need to put a song in your pandemic-frazzled heart. It helps that you’ll be laughing your head off while the series spins wickedly funny magic.

Cooked up by Ken Dario and Cinco Paul (“Despicable Me”) and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men in Black”), this loopy funhouse ride spoofs the golden age of musicals — think “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” “The Music Man” and especially “Brigadoon” — with a snarky knowingness that gleefully mocks the thing it loves.

PHOTO: A scene from "Schmigadoon!"

. “SNL” Emmy nominee Cecily Strong and “Key & Peele” Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key team up smashingly to play Melissa and Josh, know-it-all New York doctors whose attraction stops short of the altar. After three years together, Josh is still resisting,

Josh is allergic to marriage and any provocation to burst into song. Things change when a backpacking trip leaves the couple stranded in a time-warp town called Schmigadoon where daily life is a 1940s musical. And there’s no way to get out unless you can prove true love.

Josh and Melissa are too shaky to qualify. But nudged by priceless parody songs from Cinco Paul and a cast stacked with Broadway luminaries, including Martin Short as a leprechaun and Kristen Chenoweth as a minister’s wife who leads “Mothers Against the Future,” they search out romantic prospects among the all-singing, all-dancing citizens of Schmigadoon.

For Melissa, it might be Danny Bailey (a terrific Aaron Tveit), a carnival barker whose pants she finds extremely “high-waisted.” Or how about handsome Dr. Lopez (Jaime Camil) with a countess girlfriend (Jane Krakowski) right out of “The Sound of Music.” Melissa is quick to call out the countess as a Nazi while admitting that in the show “it’s never explicitly stated.”

For Josh, running hard from apple-cheeked, underaged Betsy (Dove Cameron), the more likely candidate is school marm Emma, who is sung, danced and acted with such vivacity by Ariana DeBose you’ll know why Steven Spielberg cast her as Anita in his upcoming “West Side Story.”

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Among the gifted supporting cast, Alan Cumming excels as Aloysius Menlove, the closeted mayor whose long-suffering wife (a delicious Ann Harada) sings a ballad, “He’s a Queer One — That Man o’ Mine,” with a comic wink Rodgers & Hammerstein never could have imagined.

PHOTO: A scene from "Schmigadoon!"

With Fred Armisen as a married minister keeping another open secret, “Schmigadoon!” hurtles its sleepy town into a sexually and racially woke 21st century. Don’t be alarmed. As someone points out, “Nobody dies in musicals.” That is, until Melissa namechecks “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” “South Pacific” and, of course, “West Side Story.”

Relax. Nothing dies in “Schmigadoon!” except outmoded attitudes. Strong, who also produced, pours heart, soul, sass and show-stopping musical chops into the production. And Key possesses a seductive charm that makes him a perfect partner. They’re both dynamite.

I won’t say whether this hilarious and heartfelt series — matching “Ted Lasso” for cockeyed optimism — makes even Josh want to sing. But I am betting you’ll be a goner. When the whole cast joins in on “This is How We Change,” you might find your giggles mingling with tears. The cornball “Schmigadoon!” may be too simple for neg-heads. I found it simply irresistible.

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