Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So I watched Smash...

Thanks to the good folks at itunes, I was able to watch the pilot of my most anticipated new show of the season, SMASH. There are, of course, all the obvious reasons why I was foaming at the mouth about this show. But I was also anxious about it. There's never been a show about my people like this before. And then, we went several rungs deeper. Because at some point, behind the scenes drama on the show really became about my people

Clearly, everyone working on the show knows how the biz works, so they're coming from the right places. I had many feelings. These are those feelings. So, first, the pros.

1. Playing "Spot my friends." Loved seeing me some Jake Wilson as a casting assistant, Maddie Corman as a social worker, Annaleigh Ashford, and well, pretty much every chorus boy on 9th Ave in that baseball number. (And that's just the pilot. It's gonna be a "This is your life" type situation as the show goes on.)

2. The opening scene, forgive the constant retreading of this phrase, "nailed it." Not just because of Jake. That's how it feels. You're in the zone, in your Dorothy dress... the phone goes off. 

3. When Brian D'arcy James compares theatre to adoption: "Some parts are fast, but on the whole...sloooow." And basically all of Brian D'arcy James.

4. Becky Ann Baker & Dylan Baker (love them!) as Karen's parents.

5. An artistic marriage that sort of supersedes your real marriage. Just saying, it happens. Same for writers relationships with certain performers.

6. The lyricists speech about why Marilyn. You gotta have that kind of clarity. Same for when Karen sings "Beautiful." So Theresa Rebeck at least gets the Marilyn aspect.

7. So far-- and listen, I love me some Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman, but so far, I'm not blown away by the songs. Some of the lyrics, yes. 

8. The extended Riedel shpiel.  "I hate everyone who writes theatre blogs!" and her ranting about people making judgements before the shows even done.

9. Megan Hilty. She's doing first rate work. Especially in that scene with her mother. The 1/3 glass of wine. How the mom just brings the focus away from her stuff to the brother because the mom just doesn't get it. The number of times that has happened with my family. Wow. Also, the dynamic set up between the different kinds of Marilyn Karen & Ivy would be. 

10. The set up, plotline, and posturing of Anjelica Huston as Eileen the producer. It legitimizes a whole lot of what might be holes of the show. 

But then... the cons.

1. Um..... where is the poverty??? The most successful mid-career people I know do not live in the kind of luxury of ANYONE on this show. You know I'm right. I know it's TV, but it's annoying. Where are the room mates and sloping floors? Just make an effort.

2. Speaking of which, the feminist in me cringes noting that the convenient work-around to all these people (the women in particular) living high on the hog, is that they're married or with boyfriends who have hot-shot jobs in the Mayor's office. Oh, Karen pays rent in that exposed-brick palace apartment she shares with her bf? Yeah. Right.

3. Am I the only one who thinks all those people suggesting a baseball number are sort of on crack? I suppose parts of it grew on me with subsequent watchings, and I suppose if the number came in the middle of the show...

4. The timeline of the writing teams' career. They're not old enough to have as many shows as they have... IMO. See Brian D'arcy James' above statement.

5. "Please don't let them make a joke out of me." paired with breathily sung, "Peanuts! Hot Dogs! Cracker jacks!" You see the irony?

6. The way Deb Messing goes on and on about "SPECTACULAR WORK" from the audition number. It felt... wrong. I don't think you know that early and from a number like that about a director you were unsure of.  

7. None of the people at the casting table were presented as the casting director. Okay??....

8. I know why they did it, but I've never seen anyone come in legit costumes for auditions for a workshop. 

9. Wait, HOW are they going to drag this casting out?? 

10. Deb Messing. Sorry, I thought I could get past it and I can't. I will never look at her the same. I will never like her. And I resent it even more in the context of this show because, in the context of this show, she's the ME!! The neurotic, business-minded lyricist/book writer to a super efficient, talented composer. Seriously, is it too late to recast her? I don't even remember her name. She's just Deb Messing, the homewrecker.

The bottom line: I'm sure I feel the same as most in my biz... this can only help us. Most people have no idea how much goes into making a musical. They trivialize them. And for the same reason, I will go to my grave loving Glee, bless the suits on this show for getting amazing Broadway performers the paychecks and recognition they deserve. Bless you. 

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