Joshua Bergasse Will Choreograph TV's "Smash" Series

News   Joshua Bergasse Will Choreograph TV's "Smash" Series
Joshua Bergasse, the choreographer who was seen as a dancer in Broadway's The Life and Hairspray and on tour in Movin' Out and West Side Story, will choreograph the first season of the new NBC series "Smash," the scripted drama-with-music series about the making of a musical.

Joshua Bergasse
Joshua Bergasse Photo by Lee Cherry

Bergasse's athletic work is seen in the series pilot, penned by Theresa Rebeck, in which a musical about Marilyn Monroe is being developed by a disparate group of theatre people. One athletic number in the pilot involves a rehearsal/workshop sequence (choreographed by Bergasse) showing Megan Hilty (playing an actress in full Marilyn regalia) dancing with dancers playing baseball players representing the world of Monroe's New York Yankee ballplayer husband Joe DiMaggio.

"Smash" will launch on NBC Feb. 6, 2012, at 10 PM ET.

The scripted drama about the subculture of musical theatre people is the brainchild of Steven Spielberg. Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebeck (Mauritius, "NYPD Blue") penned the pilot episode, directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot). A bullpen of writers, including some with theatre chops (1001's Jason Grote, for example), has been assembled.

NBC bills it this way: "'Smash' is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theatre as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire — to be a 'Smash.' The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe — written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle of Legally Blonde: The Musical) and Julia (Emmy Award winner Debra Messing of 'Will & Grace'). Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty (Katharine McPhee, 'American Idol') — who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds — and stage veteran (Megan Hilty of 9 to 5: The Musical), who's determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston, 'Prizzi's Honor') discovers the Marilyn project and jumps on board with a brilliant director (Jack Davenport, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films) — whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality."

Executive producer is multiple Emmy and Oscar winner Steven Spielberg ("ER," "Schindler's List"). Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Oscar-winning "Chicago," "Hairspray") and Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey ("United States of Tara," "The Borgias") also serve as executive producers. Original songs are written by Tony and Grammy Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray," "Catch Me If You Can"), who also serve as executive producers. "Smash" is a production of Universal Media Studios in association with DreamWorks. The series shoots in New York City.

Don't expect characters to burst into songs, movie-musical style (or as they do on the TV hit "Glee"). All singing in "Smash" will be in the context of performance/rehearsal/audition/recording situations. Said songs will be sweetened, however: A clip from the pilot shows Katharine McPhee's character in a piano-and-voice audition that morphs into a fantastically lit performance boosted with orchestra, apparently to reflect what the industry folk in the room are seeing in their imaginations (musical fantasy elements like in the film "Chicago" will surface from time to time).

According to his bio on the Broadway Dance Center website, Bergasse is a New York City-based teacher and choreographer who has been a member of the Broadway Dance Center Faculty since 1998. His credits as a choreographer include American Songbook's Fascinatin' Rhythm (Allen Room, Jazz @ Lincoln Center); The Face of Tisch, Gala 2010 (Rose Hall, Jazz @ Lincoln Center); Bomb-Itty Of Errors (Off-Broadway); Captain Louie (Little Shubert, York Theatre Company); BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year Opener for 2007 and 2008 (New Amsterdam Theatre); Fame The Musical (National & International Tours); Solo Pido - Bianca Marroquin In Concert (Mexico City); West Side Story (Stratford Festival, Barrington Stage Company, Fulton Theatre, North Carolina Theatre); Carousel, The World Goes Round (Barrington Stage); La Cage..., Beehive, Cagney (Riverside Theatre); Smokey Joe's Café (AMTSJ, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Riverside); Tommy, South Pacific, Crash Nation (Cherry County Playhouse); and more.

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