March 21, 2013 by rachelcmann
I was at a dinner party the other night and someone asked me my opinion on Smash. Their exact question was “As a theater professional, how realistic is it and do you love or hate the show?”
Well, the answer is a bit tricky. The show is fairly true to life (although I haven’t worked on Broadway so I can’t speak to all of it, regional theaters work a little differently) and I’ve been a part of shows with last minute cast changes, big divas, persnickety directors and playwrights who change their minds a thousand times during the rehearsal process. Testing out a new show is a tremendous leap of faith for the producing organization. It takes years for a show to get from page to stage and when it is finally put in front of an audience (like in Boston in Season 1) tensions run high. So yes, to a large degree, the show is realistic. Minus the weird dream sequence musical numbers that happen on occasion.
As for whether or not I like the show…well…I know that they filmed Season 1 before airing it, so in Season 2 they’ve been able to fix a lot of the problems that watchers had, like Julia’s annoying kid and some other auxiliary characters. They’ve cut down on the weird hallucinogenic bits that are more reminiscent of Glee, and added some new blood (aka the impeccable Jeremy Jordan) to keep things interesting. However, with all that the show is still on the brink of cancellation. It must be a bear to produce, that’s a lot of people on payroll and a fair number of New York specific locations they have to pay through the nose for. I haven’t really answered the question have I?
I’m still watching it aren’t I? I really enjoy Katherine McPhee and Jeremy Jordan, individually if not together. I like a good portion of the music, especially the music from the new musical the boys are writing called “Hit List.” But I sort of feel like I’m watching a slow motion car crash, waiting for the various parts to burst into flames so I can bask in the failure. Most of my colleagues have mixed feelings as well, it’s great to see a show about our lives, except that isn’t really our lives. The most realistic person/character on that show is the beleaguered stage manager. No one wants to see a show about the PA or the stage hand, the marketing director and production manager apparently. You can have great theater with just an actor and a bare stage, but if you want real magic you need all the trimmings, and on Smash those trimming just materialize, as if elves have been toiling overnight. That might not be too far from the truth, but those elves are real people, and those people never get to be in the spotlight (especially the spotlight operators). Most of them would eschew that light being shined on their work, but I think it would still be nice to see or hear from one of them once in a while.
- TV: Newswire: Smash isn’t dead! It’s just moving to Saturdays! (avclub.com)
- Jeremy Jordan to Join Anna Kendrick in THE LAST FIVE YEARS Film? (broadwayworld.com)
- Megan Hilty Talks Smash and New Album (oceandrive.com)