THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two, Episode 7, Or, Rewrite This Story

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21 Mar 2013

Megan Hilty
Megan Hilty
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

Playbill's weekly recap, with notes and comment, of the latest episode of the NBC musical drama series "Smash," about the dreamers behind Broadway musicals. Here's a look at the March 19 episode, "Musical Chairs."


It would be a case of burying the lead if we ignored the central original song of the latest episode of "Smash." The infectious and driving new rock number, sung by actress Karen (Katharine McPhee) and songwriter-actor Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), is called "Rewrite This Story," an ironic title if ever there was one. The storytelling in "Smash" has received a drubbing from most quarters since its first season. The lyrics of the new song might have been written by fans, critics, hate-watchers, insiders and others who have hoped week after week that the plot and characters of "Smash" might have gotten better, stronger, deeper and clearer in Season Two.

In a presentation to Scott Nichols (Jesse L. Martin), the artistic director of Manhattan Theatre Workshop, who is considering Hit List for a slot in the coming MTW season, Jimmy sings:

Someone tell me when
I can start again and rewrite this story.
How long can I stay
Lost without a way
To rewrite, I wish I could rewrite, this story?

The number is by wunderkind writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are quickly-rising voices in American musicals, deftly able to adapt their style to suit material: 1940s America for A Christmas Story, The Musical! on Broadway, or 1960s America for Dogfight Off-Broadway, or grungy 2010s America for Hit List, which is heavy on sex, drugs and post-Rent soul-searching, but light on plot. Scott has rich board members and "older" subscribers to answer to, and cannot promise a mainstage spot for the still-developing show, even though it now has a Tony Award-winning director, Derek (Jack Davenport), attached. Further, Scott explains sincerely, Hit List needs an "overriding theme" that's "universal" in order to make it ready for the mainstage. (He thinks the show is more suited to MTW's 80-seat "Underground" space, populated by younger subscribers.) Is "theme" really the golden ticket to a mainstage spot at a resident New York theatre? What about plot, characters — logic?


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