Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smashed, March 21, 2013

Musical Chairs
Smash seems to be going round and round in circles
by Stuart Munro

Hello friends! I tell you. With the week I’m having, I couldn’t wait to sit down with a glass of whisky (for those who don’t like Canadian Whisky, I suggest giving the Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select a chance) and my favourite worst show about musical theatre, Smash!

This week opens with a rehearsal for Hit List, featuring the ever-dashing Jimmy, and Karen’s roommate, Ana (who has a great voice, but does the weirdest thing with her jaw when she sings). The AD of the theatre wants to put the show in their 80-seat “underground” venue, but both Jimmy and Derek think that’s a terrible idea. So the pressure is on to give the show a little more finesse by the end of the next day. Because it’s just that easy! Karen swings by to push them in the right direction, and Jimmy tries to guilt her into being a part of the production (and consequently leaving Bombshell), but she walks out, pausing just long enough to give them their theme . . . apparently she’s just that good. The boys figure out a new opening number to pitch to the team which sells the show to the mainstage. I like the tune, but I wish they wouldn’t over-produce Jeremy Jordan’s voice so much. The boy is talented; he doesn’t need it.

Things go so badly that Ivy and Terry decide to “go down in a blaze of glory” on opening night. Whatever that means.

Meanwhile, at Bombshell, Karen and new-director Tom seem to be having some . . . differences of opinion . . . and I think Karen is going to fall apart without Derek to push her just the right way. Julia, on the other hand, thinks the show (this version of which she didn’t want to use) is “fantastic.” Until Tom mentions one of the cut scenes involving Marilyn’s mother from her newer, unused version of the book that is. This scene has never come up before, but is the lynch pin of the episode. Huh? For legal reasons there’s a new choreographer on board (we don’t see his face or get his name before we see his mediocre work), but everyone is unhappy with it. Well. Except for Tom, who may exemplify everything I dislike about commercial theatre – its bland accessibility. Karen can’t dance, and so Tom fills in for her, and goes out of his way to make her just as bland as everything else. Honestly. I thought the whole reason we established Tom as being good with actors was so that this particular transition would go smoothly. I just don’t know what’s going on anymore. Jerry, it turns out, is betting against Tom and hoping to get Derek back, so Eileen and Julia do some sleuthing in hopes of finding a legal loophole to get Jerry out (spoiler! They find one).

Things at Liaisons aren’t going much better, though at least now the director and company have the balls to tell movie-star Terry when he’s being ridiculous (which, let’s face it, is most of the time). But even so, the first preview (how did we get here? Weren’t we teching earlier in the day?) is not going well – one of the cast members remarks “My God this is boring.” Things go so badly that Ivy and Terry decide to “go down in a blaze of glory” on opening night. Whatever that means. Liaisons seems to be nothing but a farce of the worst kind, and I don’t see the tiniest hint here of the epic drama that left everyone in tears in this material, which is a shame. (And if any of this is being improvised on the spot, which is what we’re meant to believe, then this is the most adaptive cast in the world.) I’m so confused. The show’s a disaster and closes at the end of the week, which frees Ivy up. . . .

At the stage door afterwards, Karen offers to leave Bombshell so Ivy can step back in – Ivy’s always been Tom’s Marilyn – and so Karen can join Hit List. I’m happy to say I saw this coming a mile away. Jimmy interprets this as some sort of loyalty test that she’s passed, which kind of pisses me off. The girl was going to be on Broadway! What makes you think she owed anything to you?!

Anyway. Jerry relents. Eileen gets the show back. Derek signs over his choreography. Ivy gets everyone’s blessing to become Marilyn again. And Karen follows her heart and joins Hit List. I just . . . why did we have to go through so much to get here? Very little about this tortured process has been, I don’t know, organic. It’s all felt way too forced, and drama for the sake of drama is rarely entertaining.

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