ABC’s latest foray into fairy tale-esque theater begins tonight with the double-episode premiere of Galavant, a musical comedy that subverts every fairy tale stereotype with unrestrained glee.
Joshua Sasse plays Galavant, our hero, with all due swagger and swashbuckling. A celebrated – and quite handsome – knight of the realm, Galavant falls for the beautiful Madalena, played by Mallory Jansen. The young couple celebrate their love often and with enthusiasm, so that when King Richard, played with obvious delight by Timothy Omundson, spots Madalena, she’s not exactly the chaste maiden he assumes.
Still, Richard is enchanted and immediately offers for Madalena’s hand. Then demands. Then kidnaps her. Naturally Galavant rides to her rescue, certain that true love will triumph over the opportunity for fame and fortune. But Madalena is apparently a pragmatic sort, and, upon careful consideration, she chooses fame and fortune. Galavant is devastated.
Here is where Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabeta of Valencia, played by Karen David, finds Galavant when she comes seeking aid for her people, whom King Richard has defeated and enslaved. The depressed knight is uninterested in her troubles, until the exasperated princess reveals that helping her would also be taking revenge on his greatest enemy. Vinnie Jones and Luke Youngblood round out the cast as sidekicks to King Richard and Galavant, respectively. And now, the quest begins!
From Dan Fogelman (and with one of my favorite writers, Kristin Newman, on board), visual jokes, pop culture references and verbal sparring are accompanied by witty songs from the award-winning musical team of composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast”) and lyricist Glenn Slater (“Tangled”). A band of impressive guest stars such as John Stamos (in tonight’s second episode), Hugh Bonneville, and Ricky Gervais add to the already ridiculously talented cast.
This subversive take on fairy tales is a delightful interlude while the quite serious Once Upon a Time is on hiatus. As the pilot’s final song says, the plot is “twisty and immensely turny,” but so much fun.
Galavant premieres Sunday, January 4 at 8/7c on ABC.