As a mix of snow and rain came down outside 54 Below, the popular Manhattan venue offering three sold-out concerts of the "Smash" musical Hit List, things began to heat up under 54th Street, as theatregoers and "Smash" fans filled the space in anticipation for the 11:30 PM concert — the first of the three, held Dec. 8-9.
"Let Me Be Your Star," the show's anthem (penned by Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), resonated throughout the building, and members of the 54 Below staff took audience members' phone numbers, in the style of "Hit List text messaging," the concept Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop incorporated into their modern-day musical — a show about finding fame, establishing stardom and falling in love that lives among the worlds of Tony winners Spring Awakening and Rent.
Writers of the Hit List score — including A Christmas Story Tony Award nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Drew Gasparini, Joe Iconis and Andrew McMahon — were tucked away in the far left corner of 54 Below, close to the onstage piano, where they would take turns playing songs they created for the NBC television musical drama.
Ann Harada, the comedic Charlotte of Broadway's Cinderella — known for her performance as feisty stage manager Linda on "Smash"— paced the venue (headset atop her head) and, in true "Smash" fashion, began to call the shots at 11:50 PM, when the lights dimmed and First Date actress Krysta Rodriguez entered from the back of the house as The Diva. She began with an a cappella version of Joe Iconis' "Broadway, Here I Come!" and fired a fake gunshot towards center stage — setting up the evening and the gritty plot behind the "Tony Award-winning" musical Hit List.
Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus, the star of Broadway's upcoming Les Misérables, took the stage as Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop, respectively, and the evening officially kicked off with Jordan and Carrie Manolakos (stepping into Katharine McPhee's role — Karen Cartwright, the actress on "Smash" who plays Amanda in Hit List), who sang "Rewrite This Story" (the first big musical number of Hit List by Pasek and Paul, who also penned the award-winning Off-Broadway musical Dogfight).
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