I know it has been a while since my last post, but December was far too busy for me to write: I had to combine two jobs during the day and correct exams at night. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t do anything ‘write’-worthy. A week after Passenger I saw Bastille perform for the second time and a couple of days after that I saw The Lumineers. I really wanted to write about The Lumineers’ performances, because they are awesome! It was one of the best shows I have ever seen, but unfortunately I did not have the time and writing about it 2 months later isn’t an option either. It would not do them justice any more. So, moving on…
For New Year I got the entire collection of the NBC-series Smash. It’s a show about how a musical comes to life on Broadway. It has been called the adult Glee, but it is so much better. I am a Glee fan and I understand the value of the series, but content-wise it could be deeper from time to time. I do understand that a series without clichés would be nearly impossible, but there are so many of them. I am not here to talk about Glee, though.
Smash is about a musical, so there is a lot of singing and dancing involved. If you do not like singing or dancing, do not watch this show. However if you do like it, Smash is a great way to learn about the genesis of a musical. We are brought into this world through the character of Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee). She is just getting started on Broadway: she is doing auditions and is trying to make it as an actress. So, like most of the viewers, she is new to the entire business. Unlike Karen, Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) has been part of the ensemble (the choir) in many productions and she is looking for her big break. Unsurprisingly, both of them are qualified to play the part of Marilyn Monroe in the next Broadway musical.
The first season is about the hiccups the musical-in-progress has to overcome to be able to go to Broadway. There are problems betweem the director of the show, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) and the composer Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) and his lyricist, Julia Houston (Debra Messing). There are problems with finding a producer, the right star… But most of all, the first season is about who will play Marilyn. Will it be Ivy, the embodiment of Marilyn, or will it be the unexperienced Karen who reflects Marilyn’s innocence? The following clip shows their auditions, so judge for yourself.
Without giving away too much of the plot, you will not have to choose between the two. In the second series they both get what they want, because another musical emerges. Bombshell (the Marilyn musical) gets some competition from Hit List. Hit List is a new and edgy musical with music you wouldn’t really associate with Broadway. Bombshell is traditional Broadway, Hit List is there to shake things up a bit. In this first clip you can see Megan Hilty singing The National Pastime. She has a choir and dancers: typical of large Broadway productions. The other clip shows Karen and Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), who are the leads in Hit List, singing Rewrite This Story.
Hit List is about more contemporary, poppy music. Personally, I prefer Hit List’s music over Bombshell’s. At least in the second series. The new Bombshell songs aren’t as great as the ones in the first season, according to me. However, the good thing is that you do not have to choose, because we get to see both.
What makes this show great is that it is made by people who have worked on Broadway. They know what goes on behind the scenes and they succeed in conveying the cosy atmosphere. The dancers and actors are all friends. Okay, sometimes someone wants to kill the other one in order to get the part, but most of the times they all get along. The performances are great, too. I love Jack Davenport. I think he is such an amazing actor. Just compare his role in Coupling to what he does here and you will have to agree with me. Debra Messing ís Grace (from Will and Grace), but she also makes a stunning Julia.
It is a pity that most shows I love get cancelled after only a couple of series. Smash is cancelled, so there will only be two seasons. Pushing Daisies was also cancelled after two seasons. This has to be another of my all time favourites. The good thing about these shows being cancelled so quickly is that you just don’t get the time to fall out of love with them. Sure, you will always wonder ‘what could have been’, but I prefer this to getting to see what would have been and realising that you do not like it. Plus, it is cheaper to buy a show on DVD that only lasted for two seasons. So, I cannot say that I am sorry that it got cancelled, but I will miss the wonderful characters and interesting Broadway world of Smash!