Have you seen Galavant? Galavant Season 2 premieres tonight (1/3/16) on ABC at 8 pm. The show is hilarious. The cast is fantastic and entertaining. The music and writing are perfection. I was very excited to hear the series was picked up for a second season. As a huge Broadway musical lover and Alan Menken fan, Galavant is a show that I can connect with. It's one of those shows that has a little something for everyone. Big musical numbers, adult humor, witty writing. Follow the adventures of Galavant, a dashing hero played by Josua Sasse, after he discovered the dark side of Madalena, as he embarks on an unlikely bromance with King Richard and fights to rekindle the romance with his true love, Isabella.
When I was in Los Angeles in December on my most recent Disney/ABC TV press event, we had the pleasure screen the season 2 premiere of Galavant and then to interview Timothy Omundson, who plays King Richard, as well as Executive Producers and Writers Dan Fogelman and Kat Likkel. The three sat with us and talked a bit about the show, season 2, working together, zombies, beards and more.
Incredible Filming Sequences
Right before meeting with us, the Galavant trio has returned from filming the Season 2 finale in Morocco where Lawrence of Arabia filmed. Dan Fogelman told us how the finale is probably the biggest thing that's ever been done in a comedy series, certainly in a half-hour comedy. They filmed this very Game of Thrones-esque army montage gathering using nearly 300 extras in Morocco where the entire cast and extras broke out into musical numbers. “It's completely insane,” Fogelman said. “This will never, ever, ever happen again in a half-hour comedy,” Timothy Omundson said.
Fogelman talked more about the scope of the finale. “It's a little massive. I've done hundreds of million dollar movies that do not have the scope of what we're doing, what's coming in the latter half of the Season particularly. These giant numbers, like you can see that opening musical number. They get bigger and bigger, these numbers with the extras and large groups of people singing and dancing. We have at one point later in the Season, we have a Zombie Army.
One of the things that makes the show so entertaining is it's cheeky humor. It reminds me a bit of a more modern Monty Python. I love the way they push the envelope with their humor and comedic delivery.
“I think we're getting sharper comedically, and we do massive screenings with families, and we're trying to do stuff that's kind of going over the heads, like the adults are getting it but, we actually just did a whole episode about a Gay Bar without ever saying the word “gay.” Not that it's a bad word or a good word, but you can watch it with kids, who were just kind of enjoying it and getting it in a different way and it's been an interesting thing for us to try and find, “Fogelman said”
Timothy Omundson talked about some of the reasons he loves being a part of the show. “That's the great thing about this show I think and being a part of it because I've got kids and the stuff they're not supposed to get, they don't get, but there's plenty of humor for me, and you know for us that it's really, it's a lovely balancing in that way that you guys have struck.”
Kat Likkel mentioned how they'll use their families for research and set up. “My husband Jonathan and I don't have any children, but we have three very lovely nephews, and so we always run stuff by my sister-in-law to see ‘Do you find this funny? Will Cameron and Alistair ask you questions'?”
Great Musical Numbers
Working in the musical numbers is sort of a mix of breaking it down beforehand and collaboration once the direction of the season is underway. Kat Likkel discussed how they'll discuss the direction of the 10 episodes for the season with all of the writers and then gather the entire staff and Alan Menken and lyricit Glenn Slater (they were kind of in the loop anyway) to start pitching out the season to them.
“And they listened, cause you want songs in an emotional moment. It's like any time that you feel like you're gonna have a big emotional scene between people, Alan and Glenn know the perfect place for a song. And so you do it that way. And so Glenn 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 gonna exist. It's a fun interplay, and it's really such a collaborative process,” Likkel said.
Did you know that much of the music in Galavant is recorded as they are performing it?Fogelman said, “A lot of our singing is done live performance also, and not just kind of the synch pre-recorded. All the actors can really sing, so a lot of it is recorded live so that's why it tends not to look too fakey.”
Which can be challenging depending on film conditions, such as when the crew was in Morocco. Likkel recounted when they were trying to film during a sandstorm in Morocco. “And so they were trying to film this important song while like everything was blowing. So it can be super challenging.”
The sheer volume of musical numbers created for Galavant is umbelievable. Fogelman told us that Alan Menken has done 32 original songs for 10 episodes, which is essentially the equivalent of like 5 Broadway musicals. He crossing genres and writing for specific voices and cast members. It's mind blowing.
“He's written 32 songs and we play them in every genre. I mean, we did, I wrote the movie “Tangled” and Alan did all the music for that and like you know, to do a Movie that had 6 songs in it, 7 songs in it, took us a year and a half in development, developing for decades. I wish I had all the songs here right now, I'd be showing you like, there's “West Side Story” there's stuff like, treading “Grease” and treading every musical genre. And it's really kind of outrageously ambitious stuff, Fogelman said”
“And 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,” Likkel added.
“He's writing them for us, like he knows, 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 our, of the last 100 years, is actually writing songs with me in mind and my voice in mind,” Omundson said.
Fogelman talked a little more about the genres. “He's doing Disney stuff too. He wrote a song this year called, like “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. And it's really, it's beautiful and it's just like, it's really I don't know, I'm so proud of it so I hope everybody watches it this year, I think it's really special.”
Omundson talked about how proud he was of the whole case and how much he loved working with them. “I'm incredibly proud of the rest of this cast because also, you guys, the character development it's so much fuller this year. Everyone really gets some beautiful opportunities to do some amazing work and everybody steps up. It was like just to get to watch these scenes with Mal and Vinnie and Luke, I hadn't seen any of that, and Karen. Everyone blew me away. And it's so nice to see these people you work with, your colleagues you really care for, do tremendous work. It's been incredibly satisfying to me.”
Love and Redemption
Wether you are watching an episode or a season of a show, there's a theme or a moral as a take away.
Likkel talked about creating obstacles for the cast this season of Galavant. “One of the things we decided to do in this Season is take all of our characters and throw the biggest obstacle we could. It's like we took all of them and we turned their lives completely upside down from where they ended up at the end of last Season. And making all of them claw their way back. If I had to encapsulate what this whole Season is about, it's about love and redemption. And it goes big with everybody trying to get to that next step in their lives.”
“I mean really those few things, it's love and it's redemption. Higher, everyone's storyline in their own way is beautiful, it really. You know, I sort of get caught in reading these scripts like it's a silly Show. It's a silly fun light show and then you get smacked over the head with this heart, and like, and it's amazing what you guys have all done, all the writers of threading that needle between silly goofy and really something that makes you care, and I think people will get sort of, catch themselves, I'm actually having a feeling. Instead of oh happy fun light, there's some beautiful, beautiful stuff in there this year,” Omundson said.
Galavant Has a Great Cast and Cameos
Galavant has a great cast with fun cameos. Hugh Bonneville, John Stamos, and Weird Al are back. Nick Frost will be in an episode.
Fogelman talked a bit about some of the great British talent that is in Season 2 of Galavant. “We have all these great English actors coming out. It's kind of like a Who's Who. They're not all names you know, but people that have starred in every West End production in London. It's kind of like the crème de la crème of people that are getting nominated for all the Oscars and stuff this time of year here, it's like that group of people. So you'll recognize a lot of faces and people.”
“I'll mentioned it to my English friends who we have coming in, and they're gobsmacked. They're like, ‘How did you get Nick Frost? How did you get him,” Omundson said.
“Nick Frost plays a Giant, named Andre the Giant who hates Dwarves,” Likkel told us.
Fogelman described the scene to us. “We have a War, there's a street. I wish I had it here, which is this big West Side Story-type number. It has a King Richard and Galavant come across a band of warring Dwarves and Giants. But the reveal is they're all 5′ 10″. They're very short and when they're fighting, a lot of times, 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.”
How About a Little Disney Love?
This season Vinnie Jones' character, Gareth, has a love song that Alan Mencken wrote from him, a Disney-esque musical number later in the season. “Vinnie starts falling in love at some part in the Season and does this whole like light the sky. He's singing a love song to nobody like the opening of Beauty and the Beast kind of thing,” Fogelman said.
“Cause something tells him they love him and he's never heard those words before,” Omundson clarified.
“Yeah it's beautiful. But his accent is so thick when he's singing that. We also thought it was funny cause it's like a Disney song that we actually did subtitles with, a bouncing blooper. He's got a real Love Story this year,” Fogelman said.
We chatted a bit more about Vinnie Jones and his depth. He usually plays such bas asses and evil characters.
“Vinnie is, I mean he's the ace in the hole. His work is unlike anything I've ever seen him do. I've worked with him for a year. He's one of the nicest human beings I've ever come across. When we were in Morocco he threw the cast and crew a pool party,” Omundson said. “He sat there just watching this crew for hours. He was a King, he was so happy.”
There was nothing but admiration from Vinnie Jones in the room. Likkel added, “Vinnie is such a surprise. I mean obviously he's got such a kind of a scary reputation, and he always plays these horrible thugs, and he is actually the sweetest kind most gentle man and is a joy to work with. And I think he's gonna surprise everyone this year with what he can do, what his acting chops are.”
Karaoke, Accents, Talent, and Takes
Omundson chatted with us about karaoke (we'd seen a video of him singing “Let it Go” online)
“I do sing some Karaoke. I moonlight on a Show called “Supernatural,” so I do those Conventions at ASA. Are you all familiar with that fandom? It's huge and we'll do a Karaoke night, which is part of the convention, which is just insane, a bucket of just booze and song,” Omundson said.
“Just get him a drink and he's just belting and everybody's singing,” Likkel said.
Omundson said he sings “Dancing Queen” quite often.
Fogelman talked with us about how well liked Omundson is in the industry and how people talk about his skill sets. He's wildly talented, as you can see if you have watched any of his works, and he's very versatile.
“One of the coolest things about this show has been, and I think it's something worthwhile to write about is, has been Tim in this show because Tim, you know, when we first started Galavant last year, that King Richard role was a role that very much felt like if you were ever gonna put a famous, a big famous star in this show of otherwise kind of unknown people, it was gonna be probably in that role. And Tim just came in and we met and I was like this is, and we felt this is the guy. And this, the Network comes, embraced it even though sometimes they'll want that, you know, that big, big name or that person who's done it before. And it's such a cool story, and his skill set is so specific.”
I mean he's so funny, he's so talented like as literally, a real theatrical song and dance man. I mean, 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 Timothy is getting his chance to 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 at this year, this time next year. I really think he should be.
What you see coming, it's like, this is a very, very hard thing to do, what he's doing, where we go this Season, and it really is special,” Fogelman said.
“It's everything I love,” Omundson said. “There was a moment on the pilot when Dan and I, it was Day One and Chris the Producer was directing. You threw an Alt, and because I've been doing the Show “Psych” for 8 years where we did a lot of Improv, those muscles were pretty supple.”
“And I was able to take the Alt and throw it back, and thus throw the shit out of it, like ‘Oh, we can work like this.' And it was like coming home.”
Fogelman added, “I mean, just the fact that accent. Our Musical Director who directs all the music, Timothy went and took his family to see Aladdin, and he came up to me, and this was after a year of working with Timothy, and he goes, ‘Did you know Timothy's not British?' He'd been working on the show for a year and he had no idea.”
“Well I have to say all of my actor buddies I know in LA, this one's for them because we never, ever get cast as Brits. So it was like, originally, they all like—a friend of mine who was on “Band of Brothers” with Damien Lewis and I happen to have drinks with him in London,” Omundson said.
Omundson added, “Oh, I'm gonna call Damien, we're great friends. And he's the poster child for Brits taking over and so he comes down, everybody's like, ‘Hey Damien. You're not the only one who does accents anymore. Timothy is an American who played a British King'.”
Likkel said, “His character, it's like last year, you know, he was this goofy but kind of erratic giant child and this year, his character really gets a chance to grow and stretch and go different places and it was really fun as a Writer and Producer to watch Timothy do all those things and see those moments that he even surprised himself.”
“I am just a kid in a candystore on this show, Omundson said of his role. “I've been so incredibly lucky in my career to play some really varied stuff on some amazing shows. And this one, this is the capper. I don't know how I'm ever, ever going to go back to, you know, CSI Barbados or….This one in particular, I get challenged with some of the most dramatic stuff I've ever had to do. There's romantic lead stuff I've never gotten to do. It is, this year in particular, it's been an incredibly, incredibly satisfying journey. I just can't wait to go and see it.”
On playing King Richard vs his role in Psych and his look, which he prefers and which is wife prefers
“I prefer this,” Omundson said. “My wife prefers a more kempt version of this. I had a break and I showed up this Season looking like I walked out of the Mountains. Because, why not? And there was actually a method to the madness where we slowly cleaned him [King Richard] up and we tie the ends.”
“But I had been gone for quite a while, and I came home to see my wife and kids and I walked in the door, and she was like, ‘What the—? What are you doing? How are you in TV looking like this?' I'm like, ‘Honey, It'll be fine. It'll be find by the end. You'll see, we'll clean him up.' So yeah, she doesn't like it when I look like Charles Manson. And also, like the ribs. Those are things I just can't get anymore.”