THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two, Episode 7, Or, Rewrite This Story
21 Mar 2013
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?
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.