Wednesday, February 08, 2012


After months and months (and months) of hype, NBC's new drama, Smash, debuted this week. I have to admit I've been looking forward to it; after all, it's about the creation of a new stage musical and you know how I feel about musicals.

Well, if you've ever been around me for longer than 10 minutes you probably know how I feel about musicals since I am prone to bursting into song at every opportunity.

Think of Smash as an adult alternative to Glee. You've got your fantasy singing sequences, and of course the songs featured in the show are immediately available for download on iTunes. But no matter the reason why the show is here, the real question is, is it any good?

 Well, it made me do this. For reals, I have not seen so many "throw my head back singing and raise my arms over my head" shots in my life. And I gotta admit, by the end, I was right there with them.  It's easy to get swept up in the drama and the music and the excitement.

But when the afterglow wore off I would say that I'm cautiously optimistic. I really liked the pilot; the characters are all great, and the behind-the-scenes stuff on the creation of a new musical is hella interesting.

There's essentially two stories being told here: Debra Messing and Christian Borle (from Spamalot!) are a song-writing duo (think Oscar and Hammerstein) who are struck with the idea to write a new musical about Marilyn Monroe. Meanwhile, you've got Broadway veteran Ivy, who has been stuck in the ensemble for 10 years, and newbie Karen who is also competing for the lead role.

My only complaint at this point is the heavy reliance on cliche. Katherine McPhee as Karen, is the ingenue who has moved from the midwest (of course) with stars in her eyes (of course) but this could be her big shot at stardom (OF COURSE)! And then there's Ivy, the busty blonde (of course) who is tired of wallowing in the background (of course) and might be willing to do anything to get ahead (OF COURSE).

What I found a lot more interesting were the stories of the writers, producers, and directors who are actually creating the show within a show. As someone who did high school and college theater, I've got some small insight into how a show gets made, but seeing how things get done when you've got millions of dollars and reputations at stake is really fascinating. And so far the songs are catchy and the original songs are really great. Which honestly, if the musical that formed the backbone of the show sucked, the show wouldn't have a prayer. But it looks like it's going to be good, and as one of the characters pointed out people are crazy about Marilyn right now.

And for another perspective, I decided to check in on what my cousin, Susannah, a Broadway expert, had to say. In short: she loved it. She's been eagerly looking forward to it and sounds like it didn't disappoint her (I believe the words "love" and "fabulous" were used multiple times).

The only thing that she wasn't absolutely crazy about was the casting of Katherine McPhee, which fair enough. I'm not an American Idol fan and don't really know anything about her, and while I wasn't blown away, I could see the beginnings of a spark in her. Let's hope the show can bring that out. And Susannah and I are in agreement that the rest of the cast is amazing, and we hope they get a chance to sing since most of them are Broadway veterans (on that note this article teases some promising things on the horizon...).

In short, I think people are going to fall into two camps on this. If Broadway and musicals are your thing then I think Smash is going to be must-see viewing for you. If you are meh on either than you probably won't be interested in the show. As for me, I'm definitely tuning in. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a musical. 

Smash airs Monday nights at 10pm on NBC.

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