Cecily Strong’s Theatre-Geek Love

Like lots of the metropolis’s saloons, Marie’s Crisis, the tatty however venerable West Village piano bar, was closed in the course of the pandemic. A cramped subterranean dive the place folks bray aerosolized present tunes at each other, it might have been a superspreader floor zero. On a current night, the actress Cecily Strong walked into the bar for the primary time in ages. Although she has sung usually in her 9 seasons as a forged member of “Saturday Night Live” (most not too long ago whereas taking part in the Fox News persona Judge Jeanine Pirro, drunkenly belting “My Way”), and he or she stars in a brand new Apple TV+ collection that sends up mid-century musical theatre, she appeared shy about singing.

Cecily StrongIllustration by João Fazenda

In the brand new present, known as “Schmigadoon!,” Strong performs one half of a pair (reverse Keegan-Michael Key) who go climbing and stumble right into a magical city through which the residents randomly break into tune. Whether it is a nightmare situation or a dream ballet is dependent upon your tolerance for Rodgers and Hammerstein. A self-professed “theatre dork,” Strong was all in. Along the best way, she memorized each different character’s traces, only for kicks. “When I watch now, I sing all of Kristin Chenoweth’s songs along with her,” she mentioned.

Strong regarded relieved to be again at Marie’s, beneath the colourful twinkle lights. Patrons needed to present proof of vaccination in order that they might huddle across the piano mask-free (it’s extra enjoyable to sing “The Phantom of the Opera” whenever you’re not dressing the half). Strong slid right into a nook sales space along with her fellow “S.N.L.” forged member Heidi Gardner. It was Gardner’s first time, and her eyes widened as a pile of males in brief shorts burst right into a quantity from the obscure Off Broadway musical “A New Brain.”

“This feels like a great place to take someone to show off that I live in New York,” Gardner mentioned. “Or you could bring the real wrong person and they would, uh . . . ” She made a cringe face.

“I think it’s a good place!” Strong mentioned. “My uncle is a producer, so I got to see a lot of shows growing up.” At the top of the tune, a tanned man in a flowery pink shirt and a sailor cap shouted towards the sales space, “What should we do next?”

“Pippin!” Gardner yelled.

“Ooh, yes!” Strong mentioned. “I was in jazz choir in eighth grade and we sang ‘Magic to Do.’ We wore turquoise bow ties and gloves.”

“I was in the orchestra pit for ‘Pippin’ my freshman year,” Gardner mentioned. “I played flute. But I only did it because I had a crush on a guy.”

“I always wanted to play Liat, the mute one in ‘South Pacific,’ ” Strong mentioned.

“Didn’t you write a sketch about the men in ‘South Pacific’?” Gardner requested.

“I wanted to!” Strong mentioned. “Because when they sing ‘There is nothin’ like a dame,’ it’s, like, the gayest thing ever. Those little outfits. One of them, Stewpot, I think his name is, wears a crop top!”

She regarded over at Gardner’s outfit, a frilly Batsheva shirt that may match proper in at an “Oklahoma!” field social. “I’ll do my nails, but she’s a real fashionista,” Strong mentioned of Gardner. She wiggled her fingers, exhibiting off her nails, painted in rainbow hues in honor of Pride. “I bought a manicure table during the pandemic,” she mentioned. “And I have a wig drawer and heels in every size. I’m always putting people in drag.”

The gaggle across the piano broke into “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame.” Sailor Hat winked. Strong laughed, however she didn’t take part. The dialog had turned to physique glitter. Gardner had some smeared on her cheeks, in a shade known as Adult Film. Strong had picked up the behavior from her. “I just went to Palm Springs and did mushrooms with friends,” Strong mentioned. “And I was, like, ‘You guys, I brought glitter!’ ”

The pianist plunked out a couple of bars from “Rent,” and Gardner groaned. “I’m more of a cynic, but my husband loves ‘Rent,’ ” she mentioned. “For Valentine’s Day, I got him a ‘Rent’ walking tour. All it was was a man pulling up photos from the movie on his phone and going, like, ‘In the movie, they go to Life Café.’ And then he took us to a thrift store and it was, like, ‘Angel wore a coat you could probably find in a thrift store.’ ”

Strong abruptly discovered herself swept up within the music. She tilted her head again, closed her eyes, and commenced to sing: “No other path! No other way!” she belted. “No day but today!” ♦

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