And now for something completely different: A TV comedy that’s a little bit Disney romance and a whole lot Mel-Brooks-meets-Monty-Python reverie — all set to rollicking music by Disney’s celebrated song guy, Alan Menken. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Galavant, a four-week, star-studded musical hoot featuring Psych’s Timothy Omundson as King Richard and Joshua Sasse (Rogue) as the titular knight Galavant — a duo locked in tuneful, comical battle for the love of Madalena (Mallory Jansen), the savvy beauty who owns both their hearts.
Or their hormones, at any rate.
“A friend of mine said it’s a bit like The Princess Bride has been made into a musical television series,” says Sasse of Galavant’s unapologetically cheeky comedy, penned by Dan Fogelman (with whom Sasse worked on the quirky sitcom The Neighbors) and brought to life by a cast of gleeful actors.
“It was a wonderful way to work because we were given such free rein,” the theater-trained, London-born Sasse explains. “My strength is in improvisation, so it meant that I could just go crazy with it and I think when you watch it, you can feel that energy and that spontaneity. Dan and [director] Chris [Koch] said, ‘Take what’s there on the script and just go.’”
Sasse, who played Sky in the West End production of Mamma Mia!, says that while he wasn’t daunted by bursting into song, bursting into Alan Menken’s songs in front of Alan Menken was another story. At least at first.
“Alan Menken’s music is a soundtrack to pretty much everyone’s childhood, so that was sort of daunting in that we were creating something new from him that hadn’t been heard before,” says Sasse. “But Alan is such a sweetheart, and he’s just oozing with talent. He’s literally bouncing up and down as we’re recording and he’s completely in the zone — he’s in character as much as we are. He lives and breathes that world. So it’s a joy to see someone who has been doing this as long as he has and has the accolades that he has to still have the love, energy and time for his actors. That’s incredible, I think.”
As is the roster of game guest stars who pop in on the good knight’s journey.
“Working with Ricky Gervais one week, Rutger Hauer another week, John Stamos, was fantastic,” Sasse says (“Weird Al” Yankovic also appears). “We had a blast every single day and most of the material that is used in the show is unscripted.”
The icing on the cake? The lifelong horseman got to show off those skills in addition to his impressive set of pipes.
“We filmed on location in England in an original 13th century castle,” Sasse says. “So it was kind of surreal riding into this castle on a black stallion, singing an Alan Menken song. I would just start laughing and they were like, ‘What are you doing?!’ and I’m like, ‘I’m so sorry, but this is just … fun!’”
Galavant premieres Sunday, Jan. 4, at 8/7 on ABC.
Photo/video: ABC Photo credit: Nick Ray