Start the overture: For Season 33, Fox’s animated sitcom The Simpsons is staging its first Broadway-style all-musical episode with seven songs, plus reprises! And blue-haired matriarch Marge (voiced by Julie Kavner and, for this episode, when she breaks into song, Kristen Bell) is leading the charge.
In the installment, titled “The Star of the Backstage,” Marge relives her high school stage manager gig by reviving the Rent-inspired Y2K: The Millennium Bug, a musical taking place on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Executive producer Matt Selman calls it, “an end-of-the-world musical… [and] a funny little cultural flashback.”
But it doesn’t all go well for stage manager (or should we say “mom-ager”) Marge. “She’s nostalgic for a time when she was more than a mom,” Selman notes. “And then, in restaging the show, she realizes, ‘Oh god, I was the [theater group’s] mom.’ Which to me, that’s the special emotional weirdness, true, sad, real thing, that is the core of the episode that I love the most — you try and relive the past, and you then you end up ruining the past.”
An egotistical star Sasha Reed (voiced by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Sara Chase), now a Broadway actress, returns to make things even more difficult for Marge. Marge’s rude awakening and misplaced anger with Sasha spurs “A Delicate Approach,” a soft-shoe “Tea for Two”-like ditty sung by Homer (Dan Castellaneta), which we have the exclusive lyrics to, below.
And that’s just the start of what’s to come in the special episode, which took roughly 17 months from start to finish. Writer Elisabeth Kiernan Averick — aided by fellow Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alums lyricist Jack Dolgen and choreographers Kat Burns and David Hull — created the seven-song extravaganza with hat tips to massively popular musicals like Chicago, Wicked and The Music Man. (And see the hilariously fun posters inspired by those three, plus Rent, below.)
For example, “The Star of the Backstage,” is a big company number at the top of the episode. “They march down the streets to go to the high school as Marge is like, ‘We’re putting on the show!’” she notes. And for “Fraud-way,” Averick hints, “That’s when Marge gets green with envy.”
As with traditional musicals, the songs are put in place to advance the story. There are no parodies here. Selman notes: “The emotions of the songs need to evoke, as opposed to jokety, joke, joke, joke… but they are funny.”
Check out the exclusive original song lyrics for “A Delicate Approach” below — and scroll for the episode’s four musical-inspired posters.
“A Delicate Approach”
When your partner’s in a tizzy
Flossing till she’s dizzy
Clearly in the wrong, but certain she’s right
It’s your responsibility
To imply her culpability
In a way that doesn’t instigate a fight
[Homer tap-dances on the closed toilet lid, his toenails clicking and clacking as he sings to the kids.]
Don’t escalate the situation
Or add further complication
Mince your words so as never
Deliver your advice
But make sure to do it nice
For it’s best to use a delicate approach
[Homer pumps Calming Lavender Emotion Lotion onto his hands, then delicately gives Marge a hand massage. As her body visibly relaxes, she looks into his eyes.]
Now, I know you may think you were just in your actions
But it makes my heart sink to see your infractions
Your feelings were hurt but it’s malice you blurt
Your transaction compels a retraction
[Marge, realizing he’s right, runs out of the bathroom. Homer triumphantly dances à la Fred Astaire, using the plunger as a cane, then says “You see, kids?” before singing his closing line.]
It’s best to use a delicate approach!
The Simpsons, Season 33 Premiere Episode, Sunday, September 26, 8/7c, Fox