A version of this story about Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” first appeared in the Comedy Series issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.
Five seasons of Amazon’s pop-culture-reveling hit “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has yielded more stars rising than bagel dough, but possibly none more so than show composers Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore. The duo, who met at Northwestern and mentored with “The Muppet Show” veteran and multiple Emmy winner Larry Grossman, are responsible for pretty much any piece of music you hear that isn’t from someone’s songbook, and like other efforts from Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino (“Bunheads,” “Gilmore Girls”), you can bet musical numbers are going to be part of the deal.
“We did actually we were set up on a sort of blind date with them about close to 10 years ago now,” Mizer says. “We’d been writing a stage musical with Amy for a bit at one point and she said, “Listen, you guys, I’m gonna have to take the next five months off to do this little thing on Amazon that no one’s gonna watch [laughing].”
And that little thing became a very big thing indeed, but it involved them writing for various styles through the series, from calypso (with their first Emmy-nominated tune “Maybe Monica”) to R&B (for their second Emmy nominee, the ultra-catchy “One Less Angel”), to what will hopefully be their third, “Your Personal Trash Man Can”, a full-on, multipart big Broadway-style number performed when Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is tasked by Susie (Alex Borstein) to be a waste-management narrator in an industrial, a decades-old performance entity which enhanced the finer points of a company pushing their product, often employed with Broadway players looking for side work.
“Amy brought us into her office, and they had already built a model and had everything all planned out,” says Moore. “And then she’s like, ‘okay, it’s about trash’ and me, I’m like, ‘you could have told us like three weeks ago or three months ago and we would have been able to start, but I think she enjoys putting us under the gun on stuff together, because that’s sometimes how we work the best. And I mean, we all worked on these [industrials],” says Moore, noting along with Mizer that the wonderful documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway“ really opened their eyes to this recessed artform and the Palladinos heartily agreed.
“Tom and I laugh about this, but it was basically three weeks from when Amy gave us the assignment to when we were recording in the studio,” adds Moore. “And then we had to write all of those songs in it [including the others we see in the episode], there’s basically three musicals, you know, we see bits and pieces of two of them, and then we see the entire third one. It was definitely a very fun and challenging situation to be put in.”
And smartly, besides using Brosnahan as a non-singing narrator, the main number—complete with trashcan-lid attired tappers—is performed with all Broadway talent, including Emily Bergl (as Susie’s chanteuse sis) and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Alexander Gemignani (who also plays the Maisels’ housekeeper Magda’s fiancé). Mizer notes that they have regretted not using some of the cast’s pipes, especially Borstein, with whom Mizer laments losing a musical bit filmed with her in a past season, “but she was just too good, she’s a really good singer; people would have kept asking, “Why isn’t Susie a star??”.
When pointed out to Mizer and Moore that their work is so slyly seamless in the show’s universe, they are tickled by the fact that their contributions aren’t always instantly discernible. Mizer says, “My own dad doesn’t know when our songs are on the show. He can’t tell what’s a standard and what’s ours, and that may be hard on our ego but is exactly what we want. We want it to feel like it’s the world of the show.”