THE "SMASH" REPORT: Episode 5, Or, Below the Neck

By Kenneth Jones
06 Mar 2012

Christian Borle
Photo by Patrick Harbron/NBC

SAM I AM WHAT I AM: This is the episode in which we learn that sports-lovin' chorus dancer Sam (Leslie Odom, Jr.) is gay. He just doesn't parade it around. Sam thinks composer Tom is too gay. Tom doesn't know anything about the Knicks or the Lakers. Since Tom and John are not a match in bed, it would seem inevitable that Tom and Sam have a future, no? At any rate, "Smash" is teaching the world that there are many colors in the rainbow. (The Yankees were the good guys in the Civil War, right?)

IVY DRINKS A LITTLE: Emboldened with booze, Ivy shows up at Derek's apartment to confront him about how humiliated she feels following his hot and cold treatment of her. Derek tells her that feelings get in the way of his process. The woman he most cares about is Marilyn, the show. He then tucks away his Mr. Hyde and pulls out his Jekyll: "Can you stay? Don't be mad at me…"

SAY IT WITH MUSIC: Composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman, who provide original songs for the series (for Marilyn, chiefly), have (with creator Theresa Rebeck and consulting producer Michael Mayer) come up with an ambitious, knockout sequence called "Let's Be Bad," a musical scene in which a compromised Monroe shows up on the set of "Some Like It Hot" to sing and dance a Jazz Age song as film crew, husband Arthur Miller, techies and chorus kids surround her. It's the most fully staged and realized number in the series so far (it's another brilliant conception that leaps from the rehearsal room to the stage of the imagination). It's also a sequence that proves Tom and Ivy are more than pastiche writers — they are musical dramatists adept at blending dialogue, story, music, lyrics and dance. We're absorbed into Marliyn's unhappy swirl, which echoes Ivy's pain. (By the way, that's the ace young New York City character actor Michael Thomas Holmes playing the "director" of the film. He was Nathan Detroit in Barrington Stage Company's John Rando-directed Guys and Dolls in 2011, and he's been seen around town Off-Broadway and in New York Musical Theatre Festival shows over the years. It's time for him to snag a Broadway show beyond his 2002 Oklahoma! credit.)

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)

Check out the earlier "Smash" Report recap of Episode 4. View Playbill Video's earlier visit with cast and creatives of "Smash."