By Kenneth Jones
06 Feb 2012
|Photo by Will Hart/NBC|
From the opening scene of the pilot episode of "Smash," creator Theresa Rebeck's new scripted musical drama series on NBC, you know how the show is going to be delivering its songs — with a great sense of passion, whimsy and dramatic surprise, and an emphasis on how songs flourish in the imagination of writers, performers and listeners. Like the film version of "Chicago" — which was executive-produced by two of the executive producers of "Smash," Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — the series about the making of a fictional Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe will show us what's going on inside the heads of its stage-struck characters.
|photo by Will Hart/NBC|
At the top of the pilot, "American Idol" veteran Katharine McPhee, as the 24-year-old aspiring actress Karen Cartwright, appears on a deep purple stage with starlight surrounding her as she sings a lushly orchestrated rendition of "Over the Rainbow." It's interrupted by a cell phone, and the scene suddenly snaps to a gritty rehearsal studio where Karen is singing for a joyless director who answers the call during Karen's audition. "Welcome to the theatre," as Margot Channing once said in "All About Eve" and its musical version Applause.