Somehow, in between tracking down serial killers, mitigating gang violence, and navigating a Godfather-style mobster family, the residents of Riverdale are finding time to put on a high school musical.
In the April 18 episode of The CW hit, Kevin Keller will be directing Archie, Betty, and the rest of the gang in a production of the famous Broadway flop Carrie, with Cheryl Blossom in the title role. Carrie, which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, closed on Broadway in 1988 after just five performances. Since then, the musical has become something of a cult-classic following a revamp and 2012 off-Broadway revival.
Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa discussed the episode in a recent press Q&A. “On some level, Riverdale is a crime and a mystery and a pulp show, but there is an element of coming-of-age and of high school, obviously. And doing the school musical is such a rite of passage that we wanted to do that.”
In January, The CW released the musical’s cast list, which includes Alice Cooper as Mrs. White, and Jughead Jones as “The Beak” — but don’t expect Cole Sprouse to sing.
“When we really thought about the character of Jughead, he felt like the one character who probably wouldn’t be in the school musical,” said Aguirre-Sacasa. “However, when you see the episode, he’s very much an integral part of it, and he’s doing something we think is quintessentially Jughead during the musical. Except he doesn’t sing.”
“Cole and I talked about it a while ago, and I said, ‘How do you feel about musicals?’ I think at that time, we were going to do Little Shop of Horrors. And he basically said, ‘Listen, I never sang for Disney [Sprouse starred on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck with his twin brother Dylan]. It would take a lot.’”
As it turns out, Sprouse isn’t much of a singer off-screen either. According to Aguirre-Sacasa, at the season 1 wrap party, “the bulk of the party was the entire cast and crew [doing] a variety show. Literally every cast member sang but Cole. Every parent, every kid, every crewmember sang… except for Cole. So it was like, ‘OK, got it.’”
The Riverdale episode will feature 11 songs from the Carrie, musical, which means the rest of the cast will have ample opportunity to show off their vocal talents — which turned out to be a lucky coincidence for Aguirre-Sacasa. “The only character we auditioned musically was really Josie. We asked Archie — this was when we thought Archie was going to be really invested in his music career — and KJ is a fantastic guitar player, so we knew those two. But it wasn’t a big part of the audition. Certainly, we didn’t ask Camila [Mendes], and she is completely a triple threat. They announced that they’re remaking West Side Story, and I called Camila and said, ‘Camila, you have to be in West Side Story.’”