The Bob's Burgers team is back for more joyful whimsy with Central Park, an animated musical series about a family of park caretakers. Co-produced by Grammy Award winner Josh Gad and featuring the voices of Leslie Odom Jr., Tituss Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Kathryn Hahn, and Daveed Diggs, the show is a musical delight, and the Central Park soundtrack utilizes all of its behind-the-camera talent.
The show follows park manager Owen Tillerman (Odom Jr.), who lives on the grounds with his journalist wife Paige (Hahn), son Cole (Burgess), and daughter Molly (Bell). Owen spends his time trying to get his family excited about things like graffiti removal and garbage duty, all while fending off hotel heiress Bitsy (Tucci), who wants to raze the park for condos. Gad occasionally pops in as Birdie, the park's unofficial troubadour and narrator of the series.
It's a show just as much about conservation as it is local politics and gentrification, and Central Park's songs perfectly capture both the adult themes and the childlike wonder. Each episode features special composers, including Blindspotting's Rafael Casal, the team behind Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, and the one and only Cyndi Lauper. So while there are chipper songs like "Poops I'll Pick It Up," there's also the Sara Bareilles-penned “Weirdos Make Great Superheroes," a tune that Gregory Lawrence at Collider noted is cleverly structured to sound as melancholy as possible.
"I wanted our project to take audiences along on an emotional journey the same way they'd experience with any live musical show, like Hamilton or The Book of Mormon or any other culture zeitgeist-y titles,” Gad explained to Animation Magazine.
He insisted that for Central Park to be a true musical, each episode had to have three to four songs. Since creator Loren Bouchard (Bob’s Burgers) didn't know much about musicals when they began, Gad was integral to the project. "I learned that a real musical has music at the core of it," Bouchard told Animation Magazine. "It moves the story forward, as well as upping the emotional stakes of the story."
And while each episode spotlights a new composer, the main voice cast carries it all through with their own unique musical flairs. As Entertainment Weekly notes, Central Park features Odom rap-speaking just as he did in Hamilton, while Burgess' Cole is a more subdued — yet no less charming — character compared to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Titus.
While Apple TV+ has yet to release the Spotify soundtrack, both Gad and Bouchard are excited for audiences to finally hear their hard work. "The thing that Loren and I set out to do was to create a show that is pure joy in these times of cynicism," Gad told Animation Magazine. "We hope the show gives you a half-hour worth of smiles each week — a half-hour that people can forget their troubles."