From Leprechauns to Corn Puddin’: All the Musical References in Schmigadoon!

On Friday,  Schimgadoon!—a rollicking, absurd musical comedy series—soft-shoed its way onto Apple TV+. Created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, Schmigadoon! is a love letter to musicals of yore, absolutely saturated with references to Golden Age musicals like Carousel and Oklahoma! Cecily Strong and Keegan Michael Key star as Melissa and Josh, a pair of physicians whose romantic relationship is faltering when they accidentally stumble into a magical, musical-theater world from which they can’t escape. 

There’s no Wicked, Hamilton, or Dear Evan Hansen in this universe. Schimgadoon! is exclusively obsessed with your grandma’s favorite musicals, from The Sound of Music to The Music Man. To watch Schmigadoon! is to be transported back into the chorus of your high school’s problematic production of The King And I. So, throw on those character shoes and start a chorus of “red leather, yellow leather,” because we’re taking a trip into the past—and breaking down how those Golden Age musicals overlap with their parody pastiche covers.

Episode 1

The central premise is based on Brigadoon (1954)

If you couldn’t tell from the title, Schmigadoon! is a modern day parody of Lerner and Loewe’s Golden Age musical Brigadoon—most famous for featuring the now-classic jazz standard “Almost Like Being in Love.”  Brigadoon tells the tale of two American tourists, Tommy and Jeff, who stumble upon the titular mysterious Scottish village, which appears for a single day every 100 years. 

While the town of Schmigadoon isn’t in the Scottish Highlands, it does appear out of seemingly nowhere and trap the show’s two protagonists in a mysterious musical village until they both find true love. (Sigh, if only it were that easy.) Brigadoon hasn’t been revived on Broadway since the ’80s, but those curious about the source material can check out the 1954 film adaptation starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, which is chock full of gorgeous dance sequences, bagpipes, and tons of tartan. 

“Schimgadoon!” is “Oklahoma!”

Schmiiiiiiiiiiiiii-gadoon! The opening number that describes Schmigadoon, “where the sun shines bright from July to June/and the air smells sweet as a macaroon,” is not, as Melissa suspects, a take on Colonial Williamsburg, but rather a send-up of the title song from Oklahoma! (first staged in 1943).

From the melody to the smiling, dancing chorus to the hyper-elongated first vowel, “Schmigadoon” spoofs “Oklahoma” brilliantly, describing a specific location with great pride (“Schmigadoon: where the men are men and the cows are cows”) and introducing the town’s quirky characters (“he does unspeakable things to pigs”) with the same verve and joyous spirit as the oft-parodied Rodgers and Hammerstein closer. While Josh certainly isn’t into it, any Golden Age musical fan will be tapping their toes and repeating the final, repetitive chorus of “schmiga, schmiga” and sing-spelling “Schmigadoon” for days to come. 

Aaron Tveit’s Danny Bailey is Billy Bigelow from Carousel (1945)

Perhaps the most spot-on parody of a beloved musical theater archetype, Tony nominee Aaron Tveit’s Danny Bailey is a direct sendup of Carousel leading man Billy Bigelow—right down to his job as a carnival barker and his reputation as the town’s resident bad boy. In true musical theater fashion, the brooding, masculine, yet incredibly non-threatening (see: the pageboy cap, turtleneck, and high-waisted pants) Danny Bailey falls for Melissa, yet sings a delightful song and dance number about how he’s destined to be a bachelor for life called “You Can’t Tame Me.” 

There are plenty more examples of men singing about how they refuse to fall for a girl in musical theater only to do just that—but thematically, this particular song shares a lot in common with “Never Will I Marry” from the 1960 musical Greenwillow. Stylistically, the song’s soft-shoe vibe and dreamy yet upbeat tempo, as well as the corny choreography, have more in common with “All I Need Is the Girl” from 1959’s Gypsy.  

“Corn Pudding” is “A Real Nice Clambake” from Carousel

A nonsense song about a delicious dish, Schmigadoon’s knee slapping number “Corn Pudding” is closest to another gem from the aforementioned Carousel: “A Real Nice Clambake.” “You put the corn in the pudding, put the pudding in the bowl. You put the bowl in the belly, ‘cuz it’s good for the soul,” sing the anonymous townfolk of Schmigadoon after Dove Cameron’s waitress Betsy McDonough gets Josh to order the town’s famous corn pudding dish. 

In Carousel, the townspeople decide to open Act II by singing about how nice their clambake was, naming all the delicious seafood they presumably ate during intermission. “Corn Pudding” is very much of that ilk. It’s silly, stupid, and completely inconsequential to the plot, but a riotous good time. Think “Shipoopi” from The Music Man, or “Oom Pah Pah” from Oliver! for other examples of an absolutely unnecessary yet undeniably jaunty tune. 

The Leprechaun is Og from Finian’s Rainbow (1947)

At the end of the pilot episode, Martin Short naturally pops up as a singing leprechaun who explains the the magic (and curse) of Schmigadoon to Josh and Melissa. While you might assume that there weren’t any musicals from the Golden Age that featured magical belting leprechauns, you’d be mistaken. Lerner and Lowe’s 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow is actually about a leprechaun named Og and his attempt to retrieve his stolen pot of gold. 

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