Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Schmigadoon!.
Apple TV Plus's Schmigadoon! manages to be both a love letter to Golden Age musicals and a mirror that shows all the cracks in an era that we put on a pedestal perhaps too often. Every song contains references to numerous musicals with a modern twist. In fact, many of the characters themselves are inspired by roles from classic shows. Read on for a breakdown of the 10 best musical references in Schmigadoon!.
Episode 1: "Schmigadoon!"
Well, of course, the title song belongs on the list, and it's a direct homage to the title song in Oklahoma!. The song introduces the town of Schmigadoon, which seems pretty on the outside with some not-so-pretty parts to their seemingly idyllic nature. If the huge song and dance number singing the location's name didn't scream Oklahoma! to you, then the way that the townsfolk say "Schmiga" should. The elongated "i" was meant to be sung in the same way that the "o" in the 1943 musical's title song was.
Episode 1: "You Can't Tame Me"
Aaron Tveit's Danny Bailey is a musical reference himself. He's a dead ringer for Carousel's Billy Bigelow, complete with the brooding nature and firm stance on not settling down (that's less firm than he thinks it is). Though his big number in Episode 1, "You Can't Tame Me," starts out as a reference to "I'm a Bad, Bad Man" in Annie Get Your Gun, it changes into Billy's heartbreaking duet with Julie Jordan in Carousel, "If I Loved You."
Episode 2: "Somewhere Love Is Waiting for You"
The beauty of "Somewhere Love Is Waiting for You" is that it serves two important purposes. Alan Cumming's Mayor Menlove's name was a little on the nose, and it wasn't too much of a surprise to the audience when he came out as a closeted gay man, but it was a surprise to him. Though his song begins as a mentor's advice song, a la "More I Cannot Wish You” from Guys and Dolls, the song is far closer in tone and arrangement to "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific. In fact, Alan Cumming's voice in the song sounds quite a bit like the melancholy bass of Giorgio Tozzi, who provided the singing voice for Emile de Becque in the 1958 film version of the musical.
Episode 2: "Enjoy the Ride"
You've probably heard "Baby, It's Cold Outside" around the holidays, but the classic song, which inspired "Enjoy the Ride," was actually from the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. But it would be hard not to compare the song in which Cecily Strong's Melissa gets to show off her bad girl side with "If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls, in which Sarah Brown, much like Melissa, gets a little tipsy and a little seductive.
Episode 3: "Cross That Bridge"
Big-ticket gospel numbers definitely inspired "Cross That Bridge," and this song not only gives "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat" from Guys and Dolls vibes, but also "Brotherhood of Man" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (replacing brotherhood with sisterhood, though). However, it's also clear that “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair” from South Pacific inspired this female-led ensemble number.
Episode 4: "With All Your Heart"
Ariana DeBose's Emma the schoolmarm is partially Marian the librarian from The Music Man, partially Anna from The King and I, and definitely a little bit of Mary Poppins. And her song here is very strongly inspired by Anna. "With All Your Heart" is reminiscent of "Getting to Know You" from The King and I.
Episode 4: "Va-Gi-Na"
Episode 4 of Schmigadoon! is very Julie Andrews-inspired. How could anyone hear "Va-Gi-Na" and not hear "Do-Re-Mi" of The Sound of Music fame? Though every song in the series is filled with musical references, this song is easily the biggest direct parody.
Episode 5: "Tribulation”
"Tribulation" goes to show that Kristin Chenoweth is capable of anything. The song is an homage to “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man and gives Kristin's Mildred Layton her big villain number. Also, maybe it's a stretch, but that broom she's holding? How is that not a reference to Wicked? It looks like Glinda switched sides.
Episode 5: "I Always, Always, Never Get My Man"
Two villain songs back to back? And they're both tour-de-force performances? Jane Krakowski's Countess is almost a carbon copy of The Sound of Music's Baroness, Captain Von Trapp's romantic interest before Maria comes into the picture. But while the Baroness may or may not have been a Nazi, the Countess definitely is. However, the Countess also has a good deal more agency than the Baroness has, so her number being more inspired by "Always True to You in My Fashion" from Kiss Me, Kate works well for this revamped version of the quintessential romantic rival.
Episode 6: "You Make Me Want to Sing"
At last, we hear Keegan-Michael Key break out in song! "You Make Me Want to Sing" is Josh's way of saying how much he loves Melissa after all that they've been through. The somber tones of the song are reminiscent of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from My Fair Lady, though the story the song tells more closely aligns with "If Ever I Would Leave You" from Camelot.
Schmigadoon! is now streaming on Apple TV Plus.