Background: Over the past few months, advertisements, “sneak peeks”, and featured articles for the new Broadway-themed television drama, Smash, have abounded every Broadway website, making Smash the most anticipated new drama of the season. When I saw the colossal “Smash” billboard in Times Square and watched the commercials during the Super Bowl, I was really impressed that NBC was heavily promoting a Broadway-related television show. Smash could end up being every Broadway lover’s dream.
Synopsis: The pilot episode aired on February 6, 2012 on NBC and the series will reportedly air for a total of fifteen episodes. Smash focuses on the creation of a new Broadway musical, conceived by songwriting partners Julia and Tom, and is based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Two young actresses are vying for the lead role of Marilyn- Ivy- a theatre veteran who has always been in the ensemble and “just want(s) a part” and Karen- an inexperienced, aspiring actress from Iowa who is working as a waitress while trying to make it on Broadway. The production of this new musical brings together a diverse creative team, each having their own “issue” which could jeopardize the success of the project.
Comments: I think that Smash has made a very solid start. The pilot succeeded in establishing the characters and hinting at potential future conflict, giving the viewer a sense of curiosity for coming episodes. Smash has a lot in its favor besides heavy promotion; it’s something fresh and new, an original concept that is quite refreshing to many people. If you like Broadway, you will obviously like Smash; however, there are many generic, non-theatre related story-lines as well, making it appealing to the non-theatre audience.
Things I liked about Smash:
1.) Written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the music is the show’s greatest strength. But then again, what else can you expect from the two guys who wrote the music for Catch Me If You Can and Hairspray? This songwriting team is very adept at writing music that is catchy and memorable, and they are succeeding once again, especially with “Let Me Be Your Star”, a duet featuring Katharine McPhee as Karen and Megan Hilty as Ivy. A rich musical “blend”, the two leading ladies compliment each other very well vocally. I look forward to more new songs in the coming episodes.
2.) Smash is truly a theatre show. I’m a theatre fan, so I love that so many Broadway actors are cast in Smash and that the creative team is largely comprised of “theatre people”. In fact, I think there is a good balance between Broadway stars like Megan Hilty and Christian Borle and TV/movie stars such as Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. I love the Broadway references to things like Spiderman and Kristin Chenoweth. I love that it’s filmed in NYC and I love seeing Times Square and familiar marquees in the background. This makes the show only more believable and realistic for me.
3.) So far, I’m really liking the cast and I think each actor is well-cast in his or her role. Katharine McPhee was great as the “green” small town girl and Megan Hilty was perfectly cast as Ivy. Debra Messing as Julia and Christian Borle as Tom have great chemistry together as co-songwriters. Jack Davenport as the womanizing director and Anjelica Huston as the soon-to-be-divorced producer portray the more cutthroat side of the business.
The Verdict: Give Smash a chance- it has a lot of promise.