Cinco Paul on the Schmigadoon season 2 finale, Patti LuPone, and potential season 3 plans

Cinco Paul on the Schmigadoon season 2 finale, Patti LuPone, and potential season 3 plans
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WARNING: This story contains spoilers for the Schmigadoon! season 2 finale.

With a dropped chandelier and all that jazz, Schmigadoon! season 2 came to an end on Wednesday.

The Apple TV+ series followed married couple Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) as they attempted to find a way out of Schmicago, the darker, more provocative version of Schmigadoon where there are no happy endings.

Melissa narrowly avoided a forced marriage to Octavius Kratt (Patrick Page), while Dooley (Alan Cumming) worked to free Josh from his false imprisonment at the hands of Sergeant Rivera (Jaime Camil). A cleverly timed chandelier drop brought Otto to an untimely end, leading to a happy reunion between Dooley, Jenny (Dove Cameron), and Dooley's lady love, Miss Coldwell (Kristin Chenoweth). Josh and Melissa were finally able to return to the real world, where they brought a new song, "A Happy Beginning," and some pops of color back to their life.

In advance of the season's curtain call, which closed the libretto on the world of '60s and '70s musicals for our heroes, we called up creator Cinco Paul to talk about this season's incredible song output, his wide-reaching musical inspirations, and what he hopes might happen if they get a third season.

Jane Krakowski, Jaime Camil, Tituss Burgess, Dove Cameron, Aaron Tveit, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Jane Krakowski, Jaime Camil, Tituss Burgess, Dove Cameron, Aaron Tveit, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ The final number of 'Schmigadoon' season 2

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Something that really impressed me about this season is that you basically produced twice as much music as the first season in even more complex styles. How did you do that? 

CINCO PAUL: Yeah, that was nuts. We had the same amount of days to shoot as we did season 1, and there was a point where I thought like, "What have I done?" I added 14 songs or something, even though some of them are small reprises, but there was such an explosion of different types of songwriting in this era of musical theater. And I love so much of it. I wanted to address it all and I wanted to play in that sandbox. I got a little carried away, I will admit.

Is there a song or a reference you are proudest of this season?

A couple. I worship Stephen Sondheim. For me, he is the best of the best, and so, I was very intimidated about venturing into that territory. "The Worst Brats in Town" was really a challenge to write. But I'm really happy with how it turned out because I think he would be happy with it. Also getting to do Burt Bacharach and to play with his melodic and rhythmic tendencies and do a lot of musical jokes in that.

There are very disparate styles of music in this era. How challenging was it to mix something as lyrically complex as Sondheim, as sexy and dark as Kander and Ebb, and then straight-up rock musicals, like Jesus Christ Superstar?

I brought that up [in the writer's room]. Like, "Are we gonna be able to pull this off? Can we go from Sondheim to Jesus Christ Superstar in the same episode? Is that going to work?" Ultimately we just decided, "Let's play it up. Let's have fun and hopefully people will be along for the ride." I think it worked out. We embraced the craziness of it, and said, "Hey, this is a fantasy show. We can do whatever we want." We went for it. And we tried to do some separation and establish different worlds.

Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong in 'Schmigadoon' season 2

I love how much you got to feature Cecily this season, particularly with that 11 o'clock number, "Maybe It's My Turn Now." Why was it important to you to give her that moment as opposed to season 1, where she was really finding her way a lot of the time? 

As we were discussing the season and the storylines for Josh and Melissa, it was all about happiness and how they would find happiness. We'd set up that she loved musical theater so much, so it felt right to me to get her on stage. First of all, with a really fun audition scene that is A Chorus Line, but also let's give her her moment. I love Cecily and she is so incredibly talented and people don't really know it. So I said, "I'm going to write her a number, which is going to show what Cecily can do." It was a song for Melissa, but it was also for Cecily. She killed it. You could see her tentativeness, and it was such a beautiful character moment. A storytelling moment that through this song she found some happiness that she wasn't able to find in the real world.

Dove Cameron in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Dove Cameron in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Dove Cameron in 'Schmigadoon' season 2

You've said you were very eager to take advantage of Jane Krakowski having more availability this year. How much of "Bells and Whistles" and the way you shot it was her just being like, "Oh yeah, I can do this" and "This is something I could do"?

I said, "Jane, this number is going to be you getting to show off everything you can possibly do. So, what is that?" And she said, "Well, I can roller skate from Starlight Express." And I said, "All right, bam, that's in." And then she said, "Well, you have me coming down on this trapeze. Could I do some tricks up there?" And I said that would be amazing. Then she said, "I'm gonna find a place where I can take some lessons." And then she did it, and that's all her. No body double, it's all Jane in in that scene. The concept was Jane Krakowski is the most talented person on the planet — how can we show that in a three-minute song?

What was the thought process with the type of role that each returning performer was taking on? Was it more about wanting to use these actors in different ways or ways you didn't get to show previously? Or is there some connection between who Betsy and Jenny are as people that figures into the mythology of the Schmigadoon! world? 

It's a mix of both because it was giving them a chance to flex another muscle and show their versatility. ... Alan's character in both seasons is tortured by something. Dove's characters are both innocent in their own way, innocent yet kind of knowing. And Aaron's characters are both focused on themselves. There's those sorts of connections.

You have these huge titles that are instantly recognizable like Sweeney Todd and Chicago and Cabaret, but you also got in a lot of other things outside that aesthetic, whether it's Promises, Promises or Dreamgirls or the fact that a lot of Melissa's outfits look like Funny Girl. How did you figure out how to work in those deeper cuts that aren't necessarily what people think of when they think of Chicago

It's a function of wanting to mix things up to have enough variety... I love the music from Promises, Promises, so I really wanted to include that. And then there's Funny Girl and On a Clear Day...You Can See Forever, which we hadn't really addressed in any other way. And then I said "Oh, let's just dress Cecily in all those Barbra [Streisand] costumes." It's finding fun ways to address some of the musicals that don't get a lot of attention in the season otherwise. There are little nods here and there to other shows, particularly in the orchestrations to shows like Follies or A Little Night Music that we didn't necessarily address with a complete song.

Was there a show that got away in terms of you just could not work out a way to include something nodding to it?

The thing that hurts me most is The Wiz. I had an "Ease On Down the Road Number" planned in my head, and I was really excited to do it and it kept on being bounced around because it's a journey song and it takes one minute to get anywhere in Schmicago. So I could never justify it, but that one really hurt because that's a great song and such an iconic number from that musical.

Season 3 hasn't been green-lit yet, but let's proceed hoping it will be. "A Happy Beginning" at the end of this season doesn't really directly evoke an '80s or '90s sound the same way that "This Is How We Change" in season 1 was looking forward to the '60s and '70s. Was that a conscious choice to not do the same trick twice? Or what was the thinking behind that? 

The inspiration behind "Happy Beginning" was really "Rainbow Connection" [from The Muppet Movie]. It's meant to be a little hint about how things could move forward. The feeling of that is so optimistic and hopeful in that song, although there's a little melancholy tied in always with Kermit. That's the genius of the Muppets and of Paul Williams, who wrote "The Rainbow Connection."

Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in season 2 of 'Schmigadoon'

Was dropping the chandelier on Kratt another wink at a possible transition to a new season?

Yes, it was (laughs).

Melissa and Josh have this awareness that the other characters don't, specifically in recognizing the actors from one world to the next. In the '80s and '90s, musicals become more reflective and deconstructive in a lot of ways. Are we going to learn more about the mechanics of this world and who these people are, whether they're trapped in this world or they're spirits or something?

I have a mythology in my head, but in some ways I'm following the Groundhog's Day principle here. Which is that the original script had a big explanation for why Bill Murray was living the day over and over, and then they cut it out and no one missed it. No one cares. So, I'm leaning in that direction, although there is a bigger mythology in my head. But who knows if that'll ever see the light of day. Sometimes that stuff bogs things down and overcomplicates something that's just fun.

Is death permanent in this world? A.K.A. can Patrick Page return?

I would just answer that it's a show.

Melissa is pregnant. Can we expect a child to play a role in a potential future season?

They're pregnant right at the end of the episode. I'm an optimistic, hopeful person, so I think they'll have a child and they will love it and it'll become a huge part of their lives.

Patrick Page in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Patrick Page in "Schmigadoon!," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Octavius Kratt (Patrick Page) in Schmigadoon season 2

You brought Patrick Page in this season. Is there another Broadway performer you're dying to bring on?

Because I love Sondheim so much, it would be Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters.

I'm going to guess by that answer that Patti LuPone's claim she was told she was too old to be on the show is... inaccurate.

We were unaware of any such comments of this nature and have discussed directly with Patti. She is a legend and it would be an honor to work with her.

"Talk to Daddy" has become the breakout hit of the season. Has that been surprising to you?

I wrote a song there that I ended up totally tossing out called "Talk to Father," which was like, "No Time At All" from Pippin. It's a bouncy thing and it just wasn't good enough. I threw it out and said, "What could this be?" And then I thought of "The Rhythm of Life" and so then I dove in and wrote this song... Then Keegan and Cecily flipped over this song. Keegan was like, "Oh my gosh, this is my new favorite song from the show." And so then I thought, Okay, maybe we have something here. So I'm excited that people have responded like that.

We don't even know if there will be a season 3 yet, but if you were so lucky to get that and a season 4, I'm curious if you feel there is an overriding identity to musicals of the new millennium?

I don't know. I would be afraid of going too far because the musicals were very self-aware and a lot of meta-commentary on stuff, which is what we're doing already. It's a hat on a hat.

Right, and you finished the hat.

(Laughs). Yes, we finished the hat. We don't need to put another hat on it.

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