#Galavant- An Exclusive Interview With The People Behind The Merriment- #ABCTVEvent
What happens when you take a powerhouse team – producers Dan Fogelman and Kat Likkel, award-winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater, and add in the unparallelled talents of Timothy Omundson, Joshua Sasse, Mallory Jansen and Luke Youngblood? You have all the makings for Season 2 of the epic musical comedy fairy tale, Galavant. Galavant of course is the weekly series that is much more a full scale Broadway style musical than a weekly television show about a dashing hero named Galavant who embarks on a quest to restore his “happily ever after” when he loses Madalena, the love of his life, to evil King Richard. Galavant is prepared to use his many skills to win back his beautiful lady and avenge her, but he is surprised by the twists and turns he encounters along the way.
A few weeks ago I was treated to a very special morning as I sat down with the charming and always witty Timothy Omundson along with the people behind the magic of Galavant, Dan Fogelman and Kat Likkel. I was treated to a roller coaster ride of non-stop laughter as we talked about life, bringing the show that was the sleeper hit of the airwaves last season to life and what we can expect from Galavant which premieres bigger and better than ever on Sundays at 8:00 on ABC beginning tonight.
So what can we expect from Season 2 of Galavant?
Dan started out by sharing: “We actually just finished filming the last episode of the season in Morocco. I think it’s the biggest thing that’s ever been done in comedy and a half hour comedy at that. We used three armies that meant we had hundreds and hundreds of extras pulling the story all together. As the scene goes on, they’re all gathering armies and it’s really kind of “Game of Throne” stuff except everybody’s breaking into these great musical numbers. Thinking about it, you realize that it’s completely insane. We were filming where “Lawrence of Arabia” filmed and the day we got there and saw the call sheet where we had 300 extras, it was just like, I almost threw up and thought to myself that this will never, ever, ever happen again in a half hour comedy. It’s a little massive. I’ve done hundreds of million dollar movies that do not have the scope of what we’re doing, especially what’s coming in the latter half of the season particularly. You’ll see from the opening musical number that they just keep getting bigger and bigger with all sorts of extras and large groups of people and they’re all singing and dancing. At one point later in the season, we even have a Zombie Army.”
What is the process like when it comes to putting together the musical numbers in the script?
Kat answered, “We kind of break out the season and the direction that we’re going to go for all ten episodes. Dan and I and John and then two other guys who are sort of like our second in command, Kenny and Rick all sat together and we sort of broke out all 10 episodes. Once we had that, we gathered the entire staff including Alan Menken, and then Glenn Slater, the lyricist who had been kind of in the loop already and they’d already pitched in a couple of ideas and directions we could go with which is fantastic. From there we sat with them and the entire writing staff and then we started pitching out the season to them. They listened because you want songs in an emotional moment. Any time that you feel like you’re going to have a big emotional scene between people, Alan and Glen know the perfect place for a song. And so you do it that way. Glen and Alan hear what the season is, they make their contributions and then they start hearing the songs and sometimes we all have an idea like “Wow”, we think we want a song here. And then sometimes they go, “Uh, you’re crazy. No, your song is here,” and suddenly, they’ve come up with this amazing song that we didn’t even know was going to exist. It’s a fun interplay and it’s really such a collaborative process.”
Kat also added: “ It’s very cool because right now we’re down at Sony on the Barbra Streisand stage and we’re using like a zillion piece orchestra to record all of the music. It’s a really big undertaking overall but the basic process is the scripts are written as Alan and Glen are writing the songs. And then at a certain point, Alan does a demo with Alan singing it himself on his computer. We have like a Dropbox account and from that and you’ll get like a ding and Alan has written a song and it has come in. And then if we have any thoughts, which we rarely do, it then goes to the actors and they start learning it and working on it and then they pre-record the song although a lot of our singing is done live with the guys as a live performance vs. a prerecorded synched kind of thing. All the actors can really sing and doing it that way lends to the authenticity vs. anything that might look too fakey as it were.”
Omundson was excited to let us in on some of the things we can look forward to in Season 2:
“Weird Al is coming back. Hugh Bonneville and John Stamos are back. I’m actually doing a different show with Stamos right now here in Los Angeles and so we utilized a green screen from that and did a cut away of Stamos to make it all work because we couldn’t get him out to England. We have all these great English actors coming out. It’s kind of like a Who’s Who. They’re not all names that you may know but all are people that have of starred in every West End Production in London. It’s kind of like the crème de la crème of our people that are getting nominated for all the Oscars and stuff this time of year here- it’s like that there group of people so you’ll recognize a lot of faces and people. I’ve mentioned it to my English friends who we have coming in and they’re gobsmacked. They’re like, “How did you get him, how did you get so and so?” Nick Frost plays a Giant named Andre the Giant who hates Dwarves. We have a War and I wish I had it here to show you because it’s this big West Side Story type number. It has Tim and Galavant and Richie come across a band of warring Dwarves and Giants. But then you get to the reveal and it turns out that they’re all 5’10” and they keep fighting and they forget who’s a Dwarf and who’s a Giant. And it’s fun and it’s crazy and they’re doing this whole kind of Jets and Sharks kind of West Side Story. It’s really crazy. One of the best is Vinnie Jones coming in and he really wanted to do the show. Vinnie is in a Disney musical type number later in the year that Alan Menken wrote for us. Vinnie starts falling in love at some part in the season. He’s singing a love song to nobody like the Disney opening of Beauty and the Beast kind of thing. He’s never had anyone tell him they’ve loved him. Yeah it’s beautiful but his accent is so thick when he’s singing that it was hard to understand but also it was funny because it’s like a Disney song that we actually did subtitles with. You only see him in these very serious killer roles and I’ve only seen him in those types of things and so now he’s got a real Love Story this year-he needs it. Vinnie is the ace in the hole. His work is unlike anything I’ve ever seen him do. I’ve worked with him for a year and he’s one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever come across.”
What is one of the reasons Kat feels the show works so well?
“One of the coolest things about this show has been and I think it’s something worthwhile to write about is Tim in this show because when we first started Galavant last year the King Richard role was a role that very much felt like if you were ever going to put a big famous star in this show of otherwise kind of unknown people, it was going to be probably in that role. Tim just came in and we met and I was like this is the guy. The network came in and embraced it even though sometimes they’ll want, that big, big name or that person who’s done it before. It’s such a cool story, and his skill set is so specific. He’s so funny; he’s so talented and is literally a real theatrical song and dance man. This is a very difficult muscle that he has. As I do other shows you work with all these great actors. Universally in this town they’re like, “I am so happy that Tim is getting his chance to be in this kind of show — showcase this stuff.” I think it’s a really cool underwritten story of this role kind of landing with the right guy at the right time. It’s hard because we can only do 10 episodes and they happen so quickly and early in the year but I think Tim should be in these conversations about the Awards stuff that happens at this time next year. I really think he should be. What you see coming, it’s a very, very hard thing to do, and what he’s doing, where we go this season, and it really is special. Something that’s great about Season Two is that Tim gets to carry a lot of the show on his very slight shoulders. His character, it’s like last year – he was this goofy but kind of the erratic Giant Child and this year, his character really gets a chance to grow and stretch and go different places It was really fun as a writer and producer to watch Tim do all those things and see those moments that he even surprised himself.”
Fogelman and Omundson shared what was it like to work with Alan Menken:
“Alan Menken’s done I think 32 original songs for 10 episodes which is really the equivalent of like 5 Broadway Musicals. That’s 32 songs and we play them in every genre. I wrote the movie “Tangled” and Alan did all the music for that and it had 6 or 7 songs in it and it took us a year and a half in development and it actually had been developing for years and with this he and Glen are just pumping them out – it’s really kind of outrageously ambitious stuff. By the end, we do have all of the 300 Moroccan extras singing an Alan Menken song on the march as everyone is going to War.”
“He’s writing songs for us. He’s written songs for me, he’s writing for Mal and Danny and everybody. That’s just an incredible mind twist to get this man, one of the greatest composers of the last 100 years, is actually writing songs with me in mind and my voice in mind. Yeah, it’s cool. He’s doing Disney stuff too. He wrote a song this year called “What is This Feeling-Is It a Feeling?” that our evil Queen sings for the first time. She starts feeling an emotion and it’s a Disney song and it’s a classic Alan Menken ballad, and she’s like, “What is this feeling, is it a feeling that I feel like somehow.” It’s really beautiful and I’m so proud of it so I hope everybody watches it this year, I think it’s really special.”
This season Galavant goes big like never before- it’s about love and redemption and it’s a show like no other. You’ll laugh, you may even cry a tear or two and yes, you can’t help but sing along. It all begins tonight and then the adventures continue on Sundays on ABC at 8:00 -the musical comedy fairy tale of epic proportions of the dashing Galavant in search of his happily ever after.
Our #ABCTVEvent week continues tomorrow with the most “Dramatic interview ever….” Of course we’re talking about host Chris Harrison as he shares insider secrets from the 20th Season of “The Bachelor”, Bachelor Ben, and some of his favorite memories from past seasons.
Disclosure: I have been invited by Disney to cover this media event. All material and expenses for this event have been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios but all opinions my own.