Jughead (Cole Sprouse) will not be singing when Riverdale High’s student body performs Carrie: The Musical in an upcoming season 2 episode of Riverdale. The CW’s Archie Comics TV series adaptation has prided itself on being a dark subversion of the squeaky clean image that the Archie comic books had once upon a time, ever since it premiered about a year ago. It’s only natural then that the show’s first musical episode should be inspired by Stephen King, in particular a King story that itself sends up familiar high school archetypes in a soapy and otherwise disturbing manner.
The “official cast list” for the Riverdale musical episode confirms that Cheryl Blossom will take a break from her own twisted homelife and play Carrie White onstage, with Betty Cooper’s mom Alice (Mädchen Amick) playing Carrie’s troubled mother opposite Cheryl. Jughead is listed as “The Beak” in Riverdale High’s version of the Carrie musical but according to the series’ creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the (currently “on probation”) Southside Serpent with a penchant for dramatic voiceovers and solving crimes won’t actually be showing off his vocal talents during the performance.
Speaking with TVLine, Aguirre-Sacasa admitted that part of the reason for that is because Sprouse himself simply isn’t comfortable singing (enough so that Sprouse wouldn’t even sing at the karaoke bar during the Riverdale season 1 wrap party). However, the more he and his writing team thought about it, the more they realized that it wouldn’t make sense for the show’s loner version of Jughead to seek out the limelight in a school musical anyway:
“When we really thought about the character of Jughead, he felt like the one character who probably wouldn’t be in the school musical… when you see the episode, he’s very much an integral part of it, and he’s doing something quintessentially Jughead during the musical. Except he doesn’t sing.”
Considering that Riverdale‘s main characters seem to spend more time working on murder mysteries than they do regular schoolwork, putting on a school musical seems almost uncharacteristically average for them (even one about a high schooler using her super-powers to slaughter her classmates on Prom Night). Aguirre-Sacasa noted as much during his interview with TVLine, adding that he and the show’s writers still enjoy incorporating everyday coming of age experiences into the show’s Noir/thriller proceedings:
“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.”
Aguirre-Saca further revealed that Riverdale almost went with Little Shop of Horrors for its musical episode, but that Carrie – a novel that the showrunner admitted he is a “huge fanatic” of – made more sense for the series, thematically speaking. It also makes sense for the series to incorporate a musical that already exists into its proceedings, rather than through more fantastical means like The CW’s Supergirl/Flash musical crossover did last year. Not only has the show avoided delving fully into the supernatural or fantasy genre thus far; Riverdale has always knowingly toyed with genre conventions and drawn inspiration from pop culture past (see also how nearly every episode is named after a classic B-movie). It was only a matter of time, then, before the show tipped its hat to the Master of Horror and one of his own twisted high school stories.
Riverdale continues Wednesday, March 7 with ‘Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Hills Have Eyes’ on The CW.
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