On Apple TV+’s delightful Schmigadoon!, Alan Cumming plays Schmigadoon Mayor Menlove and Ann Harada plays his wife, Florence.
The Menlove’s join a rollicking cast of characters played by Broadway’s bigge st stars who all become one doctor’s worst nightmare (Josh, played by Keegan-Michael Key) as he and his partner Melissa (Cecily Strong) go on a couples’ retreat. Their goal is to recapture some love mojo, only to find themselves stuck in an irrepressibly cheerful musical from which there seemingly is no escape.
For musical theater buffs, the AppleTV+ series Schmigadoon! is familiar and clever in its cheeky send-up of classics like Brigadoon, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Sound of Music, and many more.
Melissa and Josh have embarked on a couples’ camping trip to shore up their waning love. They go on a hike and get lost in a forest and cross a bridge and happen upon the town of Schmigadoon. This pastel and candy-colored fairy tale village is perpetually stuck in a 1940s musical.
A fan of the genre, Melissa thinks this is part of the deal for the retreat and is amazed and delighted. But, unfortunately, Josh definitely isn’t of the same mind — and they can’t leave this place until they find true love.
Created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, this fantastical spoof with a touch of the cinematic Groundhog Day experience boasts a cast of characters, mostly the biggest Broadway stars around like Ms. Harada who sing and dance their way into the hearts and minds of Melissa and Josh.
In a delightful turn, Ann Harada is cast as Florence Menlove, the gosh-darn devoted wife to Mayor Menlove, played by Alan Cumming. The two greet the unwitting medics who are trying to recapture that loving feeling.
The doctors’ quick exit from this fantasy land comes to a halt when the local bad boy (who will not be tamed by love), Danny (Aaron Tveit), sets his sights on Melissa. And Betsy (Dove Cameron) is swooning over Josh. But, of course, the preacher’s wife (a hilarious Kristen Chenoweth) with the tell-tale drawn and severe lip liner of “no lust allowed” here makes sure no hanky panky goes down.
In six episodes, director Barry Sonnenfeld, known for his The Addams Family, Get Shorty, Men In Black films, and work with the Coen Brothers, visually hits all the spoofy and goofy high notes of the musicals we grew up with as he puts his patented comedic twist on them. And the happy ending is that Josh and Melissa do finally come around.
Monsters & Critics spoke to Ann Harada about her delightful spin as the Mayor’s true love and on the classic musical genre, updated and made fresh and relevant for today’s audiences.
Exclusive interview with Ann Harada
Monsters & Critics: You have a delightful role as the wife to Alan Cummings’ character, the mayor. How did you find out about the concept for Schmigadoon?
Ann Harada: I guess I really found out when I auditioned, and I just thought it was such a great idea. I’m such a musical genre geek that I was just thrilled that they would make something that appealed to me so much.
I was delighted to be cast in it and be a part of it. Then I got there, and it was like, ‘oh, look, who else is here? All the heavy hitters!’
M&C: Your character is Florence Menlove. Tell me about her. How was she presented to you for you to interpret and bring to life in song and dance?
Ann Harada: She’s so devoted to her husband and loves him so much and thinks he’s the greatest guy and everybody has their own backstory in their head.
Well, for me, it was that he was the first man that ever appreciated me and thought I was special. And so I, of course, worshiped him and think that he’s the greatest guy and I’ve devoted my life to him. And that there’s something very pure about that kind of love.
M&C: It’s modern, and it’s quaint at the same time. I think that’s one of the brilliant things that Schigadoon does. What classic musical left a mark on you, and which one did not?
Ann Harada: Oh, this is easy. I love Oklahoma. That was the first movie musical besides The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music that I just was so enamored with. I thought it was so amazing.
I felt like it just really locked me into my love of Rodgers and Hammerstein and all that.
The one I was not crazy about was Carousel.
And I think mostly because I felt like Julie was a battered woman. Nobody else has to feel that way about it—just me. But I love musicals. I love the genre, and you can still love something even if there are many problematic parts to it.
M&C: That is what Schmigadoon does it and inserts like a modern humoristic twist with the classical Broadway feeling show and, and it’s a real hybrid, and that’s a fun thing to do.
Ann Harada: It is amazing to think that you might bring the classic musical genre to a new audience.
And I’m hopeful that this will because it will appeal to fans of Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key who ordinarily might not be sure about musicals as much as the fans of Alan Cummings and Kristen Chenoweth.
M&C: What is your thought about how musicals and the genre itself have morphed over time?
Ann Harada: Well, I think it’s like any other art form. It reflects its time. There are plenty of aspects of the golden age musicals that modern society would find icky, lots of fun to find a point, but like with any other art form, it will reflect the society that we have today.
So I think to inject a more modern sensibility into a new project that still is very much in the feeling of the golden age of musicals will maybe open people’s eyes to their good qualities.
M&C: Do you think there’s a hunger for this kind of light entertainment, with real dancing and choreography?
Ann Harada: Oh, I hope so. I hope that’s true of Broadway as well. I feel like people will be able to see themselves in this, and that’s a good thing. I feel like we’re also promoting the joy of musicals.
M&C: Schmigadoon also addresses the imbalance of love, specifically between Melissa and Josh. There’s always somebody that loves the other person more in a relationship. Do you agree with that?
Ann Harada: Sometimes I think that’s true, but I feel like that changes all the time. Sometimes it’s you, and sometimes it’s the other person, and that you need to have that kind of like back and forth and who’s loving a little harder.
M&C: Excluding yourself, who is your favorite character in Schmigadoon?
Ann Harada: Oh gosh, that’s a good one. I think maybe Danny Bailey. I had no interaction with him. I think that whole trope is so hilarious. He’s the town’s bad boy. And you can tell that because he has very high-waisted pants.
Schmigadoon! comes to Apple TV+ July 16.