THE "SMASH" REPORT: Recapping the Pilot Episode, With Comments and Context

By Kenneth Jones
06 Feb 2012

Joshua Bergasse
photo by Will Hart/NBC

Tom and Julia's first hit show (well, at 82 performances, anyway) was called Three On a Match. When the property was licensed to stock and amateur markets, Ellis, we learn, worked props on a high school production of it. That's how he got the theatre bug. Now, he's Tom's new assistant. His first major task was house-sitting for Tom while the songwriter was in London opening the West End version of Heaven on Earth. Ellis is eager. Ellis is tidy. Ellis cooks comfort food. Tom has a crush.


There are two panic attacks that happen in restrooms in the pilot episode, surely echoing a ritual that dates back to ancient Greece, when Thespis got serious stage fright and tossed his baklava just before stepping out of the chorus. One actress vomits before she auditions, and another is like a caged animal after she realizes she's on the verge of that well-worn casting couch. Derek, it turns out, is a genius and a hound dog, and he's not above private coaching sessions where he says things like, "Darling, I need to see everything you've got." Is it a showbiz cliché or does it happen more often than we know? You decide.


Series choreographer Joshua Bergasse plays Derek's assistant choreographer, Josh, in the pilot. Expect him to pop up throughout the season. Bergasse has a couple of Broadway credits (The Life and Hairspray), and also performed on tour (Movin' Out, West Side Story). A member of the Broadway Dance Center (BDC) faculty, he has choreographed Off-Broadway, touring and regional productions of musicals.


Marc Shaiman ("Smash" composer and co-lyricist) and Scott Wittman (co-lyricist) won the Best Score Tony Award for Hairspray and also penned songs for Broadway's Catch Me If You Can. (Shaiman is also the composer of the series' non-song score.) They are currently at work on the original musical Charlie & the Chocolate Factory for director Sam Mendes. Shaiman is a five-time Oscar nominee for his film scores and original songs (including "Blame Canada" from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut"). They serve (with others) as executive producers on "Smash." The best-known among the show's exec producers is Steven Spielberg, who has long wanted to work on a project that tells a theatrical backstage story.