The concert version of Hit List — presented by Julia Brownell, Joshua Safran (executive producer and showrunner of the second season of "Smash") and Jennifer Ashley Tepper (54 Below's director of programming) — was staged throughout the venue to give audiences the "real feel" of the musical, which (on "Smash") opened at the intimate Manhattan Theatre Workshop (resembling the real-life New York Theatre Workshop) and transferred to Broadway's Barrymore Theatre.
In the scene where Amanda stands atop a bridge, contemplating suicide and singing "Broadway, Here I Come!" (accompanied in the concert by its writer, Joe Iconis), Manolakos sang from the far right corner of 54 Below — standing on a countertop, behind a railing — to suspend reality and make the audience believe she was truly "falling through the sky." The song "Reach for Me" — a number penned by Andrew McMahon that featured the character of The Diva dangling from silks in Hit List on TV — featured a chicly dressed Rodriguez performing on 54 Below's center table. Audience members directly underneath Rodriguez made a quick grab for their phones to capture the moment.
Molly Hager, Eric Michael Krop, Julia Mattison and Monet Julia Sabel provided backup vocals throughout the evening, which featured tight harmonies and vocal arrangements by music director Benjamin Rauhala, orchestrations by Charlie Rosen and band members Rauhala, Rosen, Shannon Ford, Alisa Horn, Dennis Michael Keefe and Hiroko Taguchi.
Composers Iconis, Gasparini, Paul and McMahon made special appearances at the piano throughout the evening, while Pasek offered a brief acting cameo at the end of the show. (The Tony-nominated songwriter was later congratulated by numerous fans and friends for his polished acting chops.)
Songs not included in the television version of Hit List (but intended for the fictional musical), such as "If I Had You" by Gasparini (a duet for Jordan and Mientus), "Haddonfield" by Iconis (performed by Rodriguez) and "Swim" by McMahon (a belty number for Mientus), were sprinkled throughout the evening and woven into the plot of Hit List.
As the night came to a close (and The Diva had the last say in which actress would take the final bow in Hit List), Manolakos and Jordan offered heartfelt versions of Lucie Silvas' "Heart Shaped Wreckage" and Shaiman and Wittman's "The Love I Meant to Say." "Smash" showrunner Safran smiled in the back corner alongside co-producer Tepper, an avid "Smash" fan and the driving force behind bringing the musical to life at 54 Below.
The venue erupted when a group of 40 actors flooded the aisles for "The Goodbye Song," the Hit List finale and a new anthem for the rising generation of contemporary musical theatre.
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)
You're invited to spend an evening filled with personal tales of difficult choices, bad breaks, worse men and some of the most glorious songs ever written. It's an intimate evening, up close with a legend.
So pull up a chair and order up a drink. Because she's got a life to sing. Tickets as low as $85!
Fuerza Bruta Wayra
Here Lies Love
On The Town
Piece of My Heart
Scenes From A Marriage
Sex With Strangers
The Country House
The Good and The True
This is Our Youth
You Can't Take It With You