Donna Lynne Champlin Finally Gets To Be the Princess

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Donna Lynne Champlin talks about Season 2 of the cult favorite series

Early in Season 2 of The CW’s critically acclaimed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, star Donna Lynne Champlin sings soprano as a Disney-esqe princess. Fans of the series have rabidly anticipated this moment since news leaked late last summer. But in reality, you’re much more likely to catch Champlin at Universal Studio Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights than in Arendelle.

“It’s one of my favorite things. I go to a lot of hayrides and haunted houses. It’s kind of my jam,” Champlin laughed. “It’s the fact that they pipe in the smells. I don’t really find that most haunted houses do that. Because they add that fifth sense, it totally freaks me out.”

A love of the macabre. A longing to sing soprano as a Disney-esqe heroine. These are two of the many wonderful things we love about the multi-talented Donna Lynne Champlin.

Donna Lynne Champlin
(Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW)

On returning to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend set

Last season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend emerged from the 2015 Fall TV season as a plucky upstart. Originally intended for Showtime, the series premiered on The CW as an hour-long musical comedy to widespread critical acclaim. Star/writer Rachel Bloom fashioned an affectionately wacky look into the fantasy world of main character Rebecca Bunch. Donna Lynne Champlin showed off her musical theater chops as Rebecca’s game sidekick Paula. Her Season 1 finale number “After Everything I’ve Done For You (That You Didn’t Ask For)” provided her finest show-stopping moment to date.

Stepping back onto the Girlfriend set for Season 2 opened a whole new set of aspirations for Champlin. With the creation of the musical-comedy television hybrid under its belt, the Season 2 production benefited from the positive experience and reaction to Season 1.

“The feeling onset is that there’s been an artistic validation of what we’re trying to do with the show, of what we’re trying to say with the show. I think we feel like we have a lot of people who get us,” Champlin said. “Because of that, stronger choices in the writing have been made, which is totally exciting.”

Season 2 sets out to explore and expand character identities, often resulting in unique pairings and experiences for all. Thank the show’s Season 1 acclaim for the creative license to evolve the characters we’ve come to love.

On those record-setting Emmy Awards for The CW

Back in July, the Television Academy bestowed four Emmy nominations on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. That nomination haul proved a record for any series on The CW. In September, the show won two of those Emmys: Choreography for Kathryn Burns and Outstanding Single-Picture Camera Editing for Kabir Akhtar, the first Indian American artist to win in the category.

These wins provided deserved visibility for the often ratings-challenged series.

“It’s just incredibly validating that we’re the Little Show That Could and that we’re even on the Emmy radar is terribly exciting,” Champlin said. “The fact that we actually won two Emmys was so exciting. It’s such a tight family atmosphere onset. The show on the whole was just so thrilled for the winners and for the show.”

Cynics need not apply. Champlin’s genuine enthusiasm for her fellow Emmy winners shows how tight-knit the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend family truly is. The chemistry represents well on the finished product.

On stepping into the shoes of a life-long wish

Donna Lynne Champlin
(Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW)

The highly collaborative Crazy Ex-Girlfriend team of writers often looks for inspiration from their cast members. Champlin submitted her wish list of musical numbers and included in that list was a longing to return to her soprano roots. While she expected the brassy Paula to adopt Valkyrie horns and “Wagner” someone with her powerhouse voice, Champlin felt pleasantly surprised at the unexpected outcome.

“One of my requests was that I be allowed to sing soprano. My whole career has been me belting my face off, which I’m more than happy to do,” Champlin said. “But I’m actually a classically trained soprano, and no one knows this. I never dreamed in a million years that they would give me a legit soprano ballad and let me be a princess!”

Paula’s turn as a Disney-esqe princess definitely flips the script over traditional musical theater tropes. The big ballad traditionally goes to Cinderella, not the stepsister. Champlin and the entire creative team relished the opportunity to plunge Paula into a Disney-inspired fantasy. After the writers changed original plans to accommodate the number, the production design team created a suitable environment to match the magical moment.

“Every department went to 11 on it. It’s fully orchestrated. We had a 32-piece orchestra that was beautifully conducted. The choreography is brilliant,” Champlin gushes. “The set… they turned Whitefeather into a forest, and all of that greenery was real. There was not one piece of plastic! That costume they made from scratch. Every department poured so much love into it, and, for me, it was such a special day shooting it.”

The creative team designed this magical experience for a princess, and Donna Lynne Champlin fits that glass slipper to perfection. Just make sure her pumpkin coach makes a stop at Halloween Horror Nights. This princess likes her thrills, too.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2 premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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