Interview: GALAVANT's Mallory Jansen Chats Being an Evil Queen, Singing on Broadway, and a Potential Second Season

By: Jan. 19, 2015
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The biggest TV surprise of 2015 hasn't been Gina Rodriguez winning a Golden Globe for JANE THE VIRGIN or the success of EMPIRE on Fox, it has been the fact that ABC's new musical comedy extravaganza GALAVANT has been a critical and ratings hit. The show, from the minds of Dan Fogelman, Glenn Slater, and Alan Menken, tells a rather unusual fairy tale, and at the center is the unconventional evil queen Madalena.

Recently, I spoke with Mallory Jansen about her evil alter ego, and what the opportunity to originate a role in an Alan Menken project means to her. She also shared some interesting tidbits about the future of her career and the show.

The season finale of GALAVANT airs this Sunday at 8:00pm ET on ABC. For more on the show, visit its official website.

BWW: There have been a number of musical TV shows over the past few years that have garnered mixed reactions, but GALAVANT seems to have really caught on with fans because it is something different than what they normally see on television. What was it about this show that drew you to what might have been considered a risky project?

Jansen: Gosh, I think that it was the fact that it was risky, and it was different. You've got to hand it to ABC for trying something new. When I was first reading the script, I got about three or four pages into the scene where Madalena decides to go with the fame and fortune over the love of Galavant, and I just thought, "This is a fairy tale turned on its head, and that's something that I want to be a party of."

Absolutely, people seem to have really been taken by the show's somewhat subversive comedy, and obviously the music is great. Last night, you had a really fun song, "No One but You," that combined both of those things, but it seemed like it might have been a bit tricky and time consuming to shoot.

That was probably my favorite moment of the series. It's where Madalena kind of breaks out of her shell, and you really see her true colors, and she really comes into herself as a woman. That was a really long day of shooting, and it did take one day; it looks like it took a week, and it probably should have taken a week, but we have such an amazing crew.

There was a lot of green screens, and I had to do all of those mirrors. We had a choreographer on set to help me with all of the different choreography for every single mirror.

My brain was like mush at the end of the day, because you have to learn different timings for every single mirror; and turn on this beat, instead of that beat. It was a lot to take in for one day, but I was so blown away when I saw it.

I actually was lucky enough to go into the orchestra session with Alan Menken when they were recording the music for it, and I was completely blown away.

That had to be incredible. What is it like for you, not only to work with someone who has had such a profound impact on popular culture, but to be a part of a brand new project, and to perform new Alan Menken songs?

To be honest, I grew up with Alan Menken's music. All of his songs are my childhood, and to be able to work with him, is a complete dream, and it's so exciting, because he's so excited about this project. He keeps saying that this is the craziest thing he's ever done, but he's so excited about it.

You can just see that; he's in the recording studio with us in Bristol, and I remember when I first recorded the music for "No One but You," he was so excited; he jumped up and ran to the recording studio and started jumping up and down and hugging me and saying, "You're going to Broadway," (laughs).

He's just so supportive and a really lovely guy.

You've got the seal of approval from Alan Menken, so is a musical on Broadway something that you are interested in doing?

Yea, you know, it's made me love music so much more after doing this show, and I really appreciate musical theatre like never before. I'm never gonna rule it out. I think it would be something really cool to do. So, who knows what the future holds (laughs).

Well, if the show keeps doing as well as it has been, I'm sure there will be plenty of offers.

Let's hope so.

Talking about Madalena, they set her up as this traditional damsel in distress, waiting for her hero to come and save her, but she turns out to be anything but. What is it like to play a character that is so counter-intuitive to what we expect a fairy tale heroine to be?

You know, it's so much fun, because I think a lot of people were shocked when they got to the second episode, they were like, "I thought she was something completely different to what she was in the end!" (laughs).

And it's so much fun to play a villainous character. And she's not so unlikable; as the series goes on, you really start to know what she's all about. She's just funny at the end of the day.

You mention the growth that we've seen from Madalena in the first six episodes, and obviously Galavant fell in love with her for some reason, other than just her beauty. Are we going to see a bit of a softer side from her in the finale this coming weekend?

You should be prepared for anything, but she does have a soul (laughs). There is a soul down there, beneath all of the bitchiness. She definitely does have a heart, she just doesn't like to show it too much. And I think that shows with King Richard, she finds him so frustrating and annoying and such a loser, but she does sort of feel for him in a way.

Speaking of King Richard, Timothy Omundson and Vinnie Jones (who plays Gareth) are the only actors in the main cast that I was familiar with before the premiere, but nowadays, most musical projects have to contain a bunch of big name stars to find an audience. What does it say about this project and its creators that it has succeeded with so many actors who are new to most of the American public?

I'm so glad that (Executive Producer and writer) Dan Fogelman, had the confidence in us to put some fresh faces on a brand new comedy. We've got so many guest stars coming in, so there's a lot of familiar faces around, but I am just so glad we were given this opportunity.

To close it out, ABC has been billing GALAVANT as a musical extravaganza, so I don't know what the plans are moving forward, but is this something that you would like to see come back for a second season? And if it isn't a done deal yet, would a petition or letter writing campaign help?

(Laughs) Yea, get the fans behind it. You know, I think it's going so well at the moment, and we are so completely overwhelmed with how everyone is just embracing the show, I have a feeling that there is more singing and dancing to come.

Do you love or love-to-hate Quen Madalena? Are you excited for the finale this weekend? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. Also, don't forget to follow @BWWTVWorld on Twitter and "Like" us on Facebook for all of the latest movie news, recaps, reviews, and videos.

Photo Credit:
1) Mallory Jansen, Mallory Jansen, Mallory Jansen, and Mallory Jansen | ABC
2) Timothy Omundson and Mallory Jansen | Nick Ray | ABC
3) Mallory Jansen and Joshua Sasse | Daniel Liam | ABC