Cecily Strong & Keegan-Michael Key Talk ‘Schmigadoon!’ Season 2 Songs

Apr 8, 2023

From co-creator Cinco Paul, the Apple TV+ original series Schmigadoon! is back for Season 2, this time exploring the world of ‘60s and ‘70s musicals via the reimagined town of Schmicago. After realizing that their love is true in Season 1, Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) set out for some new relationship insight, but find themselves surrounded by new characters with much darker motives that could lead to more dangerous outcomes.

During this interview with Collider, co-stars Strong and Key talked about the fun of getting to explore another era of musicals, the thrill of working with the same cast but in all-new roles, what Tituss Burgess brought to the season as the Narrator, Strong’s prison-themed performance number alongside Dove Cameron and Ariana DeBose, Key’s reaction to the world of Hair, and other stand-out musical performances this season.
Collider: I love that your characters went home and hung their Schmigadoon costumes in the closet and went about their lives until it came time to put them back on for Season 2. Do you think that they always thought they would go back someday, or at least secretly hoped that they would?

CECILY STRONG: I actually think they probably made those. Melissa did not have one of those dresses in the first season. She had her nurse outfit.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY: And I left in my green shirt.

Image via Apple TV+

I just figured they grabbed them and stuffed them into their backpack as a keepsake, or something like that.

KEY: They could have absolutely done that. You’re right.

STRONG: WIth that backpack, they definitely could have done that.

KEY: I think they felt that they had accomplished something and that there was an expectation that their life now would be, for lack of a better word, perfect. They felt that somehow, having gone through this magical adventure, they had figured it out and unlocked some amazing problem, solved it, and now they were done. But of course, those expectations, whatever they were for them, did not come true. They actually just went back to the regular world and had regular life experiences. I really, really believe wholeheartedly that they would never expect to go back to Schmigadoon.

STRONG: I think they both had it in their mind that they maybe would want to, knowing that going back to Schmigadoon would be an admission to each other that they need to.

KEY: Yeah, that makes sense. Wanting to and having the memory of it would have been amazing. After they get married, those first few months, they’re just going, “Okay, this was great. What a great thing. How lucky are we, that we got to experience this thing?” And then, life sets in.

When did you guys find out that this show would not only be coming back, but that it would be Schmicago now?

KEY: I don’t know when we knew.

STRONG: I think (co-creator) Cinco [Paul] had that in mind, but you don’t know what anything is, really for me, until the table read, with everybody there and getting to hear it. Then, I was like, “Wow, so that’s what we’re doing. Okay.” Even then, showing up the day we were shooting, I was like, “Oh, that’s what this is.” It was constant new discoveries for me.

Did it feel bizarre and surreal to be the ones playing the same characters while everybody else around you, even though it’s the same cast, are all completely different characters?

KEY: That was actually one of the most thrilling parts about it, especially when we were reading the scripts, to see those faces. From Season 1, people you worked with, people you loved, people that you started to get along with and become friends with, you now got to see them play completely different characters and see them use a different part of their skill set, and that was really exciting and thrilling. And then, Cecily didn’t get to work with Dove [Cameron] that often [in the first season], but she got to work with Dove a lot this season. I didn’t get to work with Aaron [Tveit] that often in the first season, but I got to work with Aaron a lot this season. Cinco gave gifts to everybody, so that everybody could play with other people that they hadn’t had an opportunity to play with before. I get to do a scene with Jane [Krakowski], and I never even saw Jane or shared a scene with her at all, in the first season.

Image via Apple TV+

I thought that I couldn’t love this show any more than I did with the first season, but Tituss Burgess narrating was absolutely everything for me. What was it like to have him narrating your story for these episodes?

STRONG: It was so great. It’s the type of thing where there’s something on the page, for sure, and they wrote something great, but then Tituss’ choices, and the things he could do with one line, and even speaking and singing, he’s just so good. He made moments out of everything and anything.

KEY: He’s just a talent.

STRONG: I would be in my trailer and just hear this voice, and it was Tituss.

Cecily, what was it like to do the prison number in episode two, where you’re singing and dancing with Dove Cameron and Ariana DeBose and you’re all chained together? How were they, as performance partners? What was it like to share the stage with them?

STRONG: It was nerve-wracking. They’re geniuses, and I was literally chained to them, so if I took one bad step, I was making them take that step too. More than anything, I was like, “I’ve gotta get that one right. I cannot stand next to these two and not pull my own weight here.” I was begging Chris Gattelli, our choreographer, “Please, please go easy on me. Don’t make me embarrass myself in front of them.” I’m a fan of theirs, too.

When you’re doing something like that, is there a moment that you feel confident and in it, and like you’ve just got it down?

STRONG: Once you start going, you’re just going. I was like, “Okay, I haven’t fallen yet.” Once we did that tiny little tap move, I was like, “Okay, I’ve got the tap move. I’m good now. I got that over with.” I felt like I was Fred Astaire. I don’t know what I ended up being, but that’s what I was in my head.

Image via Apple TV+

Keegan, now that Josh is all in on the musical of it all, what was it like to really get in it and to have those moments with Topher (Aaron Tveit), and find yourself in this Hair musical this season?

KEY: I absolutely loved it. The Hair musical was Josh 2.0 because I wasn’t singing in that first number, but I’m commenting on what’s happening in the number while also trying to figure out what’s happening in the number. Josh 1.0 wouldn’t have even understood the music part of it. He wouldn’t have understood why they were singing. Now, he gets that they’re gonna sing, he just doesn’t know that they’re gonna get naked. It was such a fun number to work with Aaron on, and to hear and watch all of them. Everyone gave it their all. Every single number, they gave it their all. Every take, they gave it their all. But when the music is that funky and that sticky, it was so easy to just groove into it.

I loved all the performance numbers in this. I specifically loved the duet that you guys have together, and I loved Cecily’s solo. Keegan, what is your favorite song or performance number that you guys had? Was there one that you just personally loved getting to do?

KEY: We loved doing “Talk to Daddy.” That was the number that we really enjoyed because we got to be in it and be audience in it, at the same time, which was really, really fun. The dancer we’ve worked with these last two seasons have been absolutely extraordinary. They’re just extraordinary artists and extraordinary athletes. That’s the one number, other than our little duet at the end, where we get to really be together. We were so split apart in the first season. This season, it was nice to be able to have my comedy partner with me.

Cecily, what was it like to do your solo? Did it really feel like a culmination of everything she went through this season?

STRONG: Yeah, and we actually filmed it at the very end. I think it was my second to last day, or something, so I had to wait for it. I feel so lucky to have had Cinco write that song. I was like, “I would have loved to have heard this in high school. I would have loved to sing that.” It just felt like such a great anthem. I hope there are other teen girls and boys who will hear that and feel the same way. Cinco knows how to write the best song. He can rewrite the best songs from every show, and turn them into their own thing. We’re all just really lucky that we have him doing that for us.

Schmigadoon! is available to stream at Apple TV+.

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