Welcome to the Smash Files, where I'll discuss the musical theatre dream that is the hit NBC television series Smash. Check back for updates and info on this exciting new show as it relates to the theatre world!
Broadway fans are about to get Smashed. We haven't been this excited about a television series since Glee brought showtunes into the mainstream (memorable covers include Rachel's and Kurt's rendition of "Defying Gravity" from Wicked and Mercedes belting out "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls, not to mention the McKinley High production of West Side Story).
Smash goes even further into the Broadway world, chronicling the steps in creating a new musical for the Great White Way. The first episode, which officially premieres on Monday, February 6th at 10:00pm on NBC, has been available to preview in its full form since January 15, and it has generated quite a buzz for the series. There is plenty of juicy drama, from the ruthless audition process and a womanizing director's roving eye to a messy divorce and a family's struggle to stay intact through the stress of writing a new show.
But one of the most exciting parts of Smash is that there are a great many Broadway professionals working on it, lending it authenticity and credibility with the theatre crowd. For starters, the creator is Theresa Rebeck, who has written for television (Third Watch, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), film (Harriet the Spy), and theatre; in fact, her hit play Seminar is enjoying a successful Broadway run starring Alan Rickman (the Harry Potter films, Love Actually, Private Lives on Broadway). Michael Mayer is a director and consulting producer of the series. His list of Broadway credits includes Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Smash is also lucky to have Joshua Bergasse as its choreographer. He has performed in the Broadway companies of Hairspray and The Life and has choreographed several productions including Fame the Musical, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls. With these creatives at the helm, Smash should have no trouble living up to its name.
A show about musicals wouldn't be complete without a winning songwriting team, and Smash has managed to wrangle Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the team that wrote the scores of Hairspray, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, and Catch Me If You Can. They have committed to writing original songs for each episode, and based on the pilot's songs "Never Give All the Heart," "The National Pastime," and "Let Me Be Your Star," viewers are in for a few sure-fire musical miracles each week.
And, last but not least, the cast of the show features some familiar Broadway faces. Megan Hilty, who plays chorus veteran Ivy Lynn, has starred as Glinda in Wicked and originated the role of Doralee Rhodes in the musical 9 to 5, with music and lyrics written by Dolly Parton and based on the 1980 film of the same name. Christian Borle, who plays composer Tom opposite Debra Messing's lyricist Julia, has been seen on Broadway in Mary Poppins and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and he originated the role of Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde (for which he received a Tony nomination). He will next be seen in the spring 2012 Broadway play Peter and the Starcatcher. And Brian d'Arcy James, who plays Julia's frustrated husband Frank, originated the title role in Broadway's Shrek the Musical. He has also appeared on the Great White Way in Next to Normal and The Apple Tree opposite Kristin Chenoweth. The cast of Smash is brimming with talent. Here's hoping the show can make good use of these actors' serious chops!