Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting SMASHed

I guess this is officially the first thing I can cross off of my 20 before 20 list! On Monday night I had the chance to attend a free prescreening of the NBC show SMASH. I was lucky enough to be joined by a good friend of mine from school who had no idea what the show was about. The premiere was actually really fun. In addition to two of the producers from the show, (who were responsible for the movie versions of Chicago, Hairspray and Gypsy, and the revival of H2$ on Broadway) Brian D'Arcy James was also in attendance. We ended up sitting like 5th row for the screening, and even though the angle may have not be the most preferable for viewing, the show was nothing short of a smash. Ignoring the obnoxious pun, it was actually very good. For those of you who are not quite sure what the show is about, essentially it is the story of how a broadway show is put together, in this case; a new musical based around the life of Marilyn Monroe. More than that, it's about following your dreams and pursuing what you love. According to the producers, the name "Smash" refers to not only the commonly used term about a "Smash hit", but also to the relationships within the story where people seem to collide. In every collaborative process, much like the one within Smash, there are conflicts and difficulties that come with working with a team. However, it seems to me that putting this show together was quite easy for these producers. The cast is almost flawless. Everyone is absolutely perfect for their role, but there were a few moments of "stage acting" that seemed to bleed through the prime-time television pilot. When it premieres after the monday after the Super Bowl, I'm sure they'll be plenty of theatre majors and Broadway junkies everywhere snapping at the screen and yelling, "THAT WAS FIERCE." And although I do agree that there are moments that are simply belt-tastic and even a song sequence where they show, quite literally, what imaging is (for those who know what that is) what I find so appealing about the show is that no one randomly breaks into song, like Glee. If audiences can understand that Smash is so far from what Glee is, I think it can have success. Debra messing is, what I think of as, their tool for television. She's a well known name and has a face that people will recognize and thus will draw in more than just the theatre loving audience. Oh, and she's also fantastic. But for those of us who know theatre names and faces, it's exciting to see Christian Borle, who most people know as Emmet from Legally Blonde the Musical, playing a more flamboyant homosexual songwriting parter to Messing. Megan Hilty belting her face off, D'Arcy James acting his face off, and a slew of supporting characters that each have personalities we can relate to and recognize in our own lives all add up to the up-and-coming star of the show that pulled through big time in the pilot. Past Boston Conservatory student and American Idol contestant Katherine McPhee plays the typical girl who is following her dreams in New York City. Her personality is nothing near overwhelming and her sweet and naive nature is what makes her so likable to the viewer. Needless to say, there have already been "teams"created, much like those for the Twilight movies (Team Jacob and Team Edward). Team Ivy (Megan Hilty's character) will be rooting for the girl who is already the front runner for the part of Marilyn in the new musical they're creating called; Marilyn, and Team Karen will be behind the so called underdog of the story who we hope gets her big break. Beyond all this, Katherine shows her acting chops right off the bat and gives us some emotional moments in the very first episode. The brand new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman who are responsible for Hairspray and Catch Me if you Can, are in fact quite good. The glimpses of choreography are great and the dream sequences are seductive in that they leave us wanting to see more. As the pilot ended, I got goosebumps in the finals notes realizing not only how talented these girls were, but how big this show could be. I am excited to see where things lead and what happens next. We've already been told that there will be appearances by Broadway greats (like Bernadette Peters) and seeing some familiar faces like Annaleigh Ashford, who plays a bit part in the pilot. If you haven't already got your calendar marked for February 6th...get on it. This is something you're not going to want to miss. Below I've posted a few videos that you can take a look at if you're interested. The first one is simply the preview for the show, the other two have tidbits of other songs and interviews from the cast and creative team.

Besides all that, I am happy to say that I now have officially accomplished one of the 20 before 20! Please check out some other posts and comment on anything you find interesting. (My 20 before 20 list can be found on the left hand side of the blog.) 

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