Saturday, March 16, 2013

Smashed, March 16, 2013

The Fringe
by Stuart Munro

Hello again, friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m super anxious to know which version of Bombshell is going to fake Broadway this season. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

Much to my chagrin (but not really my surprise), Eileen opted for the flashier more “Broadway” version, which really makes me wonder why we spent the first five episodes trying to write a new book at all. Maybe (just maybe) it’ll come back into play sometime soon. Julia and Derek are pissed, but everyone else seems to be happy. Especially Jerry, who’s going out of his way to cut some of the best material remaining in the show (“If we’re not going to have a star [Karen], we need an airplane!” Broadway logic at its worst).

Speaking of drama.

Dramaturg Peter asks Julia to head to London with him to work on a new play, and the condition seems to be on whether or not Tom can get Julia’s favourite song back into Bombshell. Tom succeeds, but it’s gone through some . . . modifications. The song of regret has been transformed into an empowered cautionary tale. And at the same time, Julia’s vision of Marilyn and her men (which I still don’t really get) gets somewhat restored. Derek hates it and walks out, inviting Tom to step in and direct. Which he eventually does. Drama!

Speaking of drama. Ellis’s name (which I never wanted to hear again) comes up way too many times this episode. Everyone finds out that he and Jerry have been working together this whole time to get the show away from Eileen. So She, Tom, and Julia (who’s staying in town) plot to get it back.

Meanwhile, at the Fringe Festival, there’s a bit of a problem. It turns out Karen never thought to get permission to appear in the production of Hit List on its opening tonight, which is like, Equity 101, no? Back when I first got my (Canadian) Equity card, it had a half dozen stipulations printed on the back, one of them being No Non-Equity Gigs. I feel like this is a no-brainer. (Also, Ms. MacPhee is possibly becoming a worse and worse actor. “I had no idea this would happen. I feel terrible” was delivered as if she accidentally got someone a non-soy latte for a person who is lactose intolerant.) Anyway. They find a last-minute replacement and the first performance is a total disaster. So Karen, frustrated with the downfall of Bombshell, opts to risk everything and go on for the last performance. Derek’s there too and imagines an insane, tacky music video version of one of the tunes from the show . . . and then subjects all of us to it too. I honestly couldn’t stop laughing. Somehow now, the mess of a show is a hit (I’m not really surprised), and the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Workshop (played by Jesse L. Martin) wants to talk to them about its future. Do I smell a new RENT?

I don’t know about anyone else, but this supposed “big number” was nothing but comedy schtick.

Downstairs, at Liaisons, Terry Falls is terrorizing the company with his “visions” of live sheep (stuffed ones can’t act) and peacocks on the stage. So much for that delicate balance. Is it just me, or does this “star” seem to be wielding WAY too much power here? Press Day is (somehow) already here and Ivy, not willing to let her big break die, decides to sing her song the way it should be sung. I don’t know about anyone else, but this supposed “big number” was nothing but comedy schtick. Not exactly the teary-eyed drama she dreamed of being in. In fact. No one’s happy (“I’ve never been so embarrassed by my work before. And I was in Urban Cowboy”), and Terry agrees to do what needs to be done to save the show.

Looks like everything’s going well for everyone. Somehow.

There are things I like about this season, namely the clearer focus. Even though we have three musicals instead of one, we’re focusing more on the shows themselves than on everyone’s own personal baggage. Some of that is interesting, but I really feel like getting a show off the ground is dramatic and interesting enough without needing all the infidelity and back-stabbing that we saw in season one. And does anyone remember when Tom was gay? And in a loving, stable relationship? I miss seeing that.

Having said that. SO much is happening to these shows so quickly, it’s kind of hard to keep up. We spent five weeks working on a new script for Bombshell, only to have it thrown away by Eileen who, at the end of this episode, seems keen to have it back? It can be confusing at times. And with the recent news that Smash is moving to Saturday nights starting in April, I think it’s safe to say that this is the end of the line for the little show that could have.

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