Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Dramaturg: Smash Season 2 Episode 3

We started off this third (second?) episode of Smash with a weird club scene. At first I thought it might be people out somewhere. But turns out it was a bad music video fantasy in Karen’s head. Honestly, this seems like it might be more the scene for Karen AND Katharine McPhee, that Marilyn on Broadway. But, hey…who am I?

Karen and Derek are listening to music in his apartment and when she snaps out of her fantasy, we realize that Karen has actually recorded a demo of one of Jimmy & Kyle’s song. All Derek has to say is “There’s no musical here.” And at this point, he’s right.

Karen assures him that the musical is still in progress and they are working on the book. Derek isn’t impressed. Karen wants Derek to meet with them, but Derek doesn’t want to deal with it. Derek says, “New musicals take YEARS to develop. I need something big. Now.”

Eventually Derek caves and agrees to meet with Jimmy & Kyle. Karen is thrilled. I can’t help but wonder how it’s going to turn out.

Eileen meets with Tom & Julia and basically informs them that she’s hire a professional dramaturg named Peter Gillman to help on the show. Honestly, I’d heard the word before, but until this episode of the show, I wasn’t sure what it was. In truth, I wonder if what Smash shows is truly a dramaturg, but until I have some free time, my research will have to wait.

Obviously, Tom & Julia are horrified that Eileen has called in “professional” help. Julia insists that they are working on improving the story and her book, but Eileen lets them know there isn’t time to wait. Now that Bombshell has been allowed to resume rehearsals, Eileen wants a semi-finished product as soon as possible. She sets them a meeting for the same day.

Ivy is auditioning. Again. This time for an ensemble role in Liaisons. After the audition (with the ACTUAL Bernie Tesley!). She manages to talk her way into another audition for the lead role of Cecile.

Veronica is singing “Home” from The Wiz. I love this, especially since my community theatre is singing this song in our spring concert. Derek walks in during her performance and when she’s finished, she’s talks to Derek about what he thinks of different sketches of ideas for the new production of The Wiz. Derek isn’t a fan and he and Veronica share some of the same vision. Veronica tells him they’ve not found a new director since Derek was dumped from the production because they can’t find someone with the right vision.

Derek honestly had some great lines this episode. His normal cocky attitude brought out this beauty: “Producers rarely have vision. That’s why they need us to show it to them.” Derek gets Veronica to agree to set up a meeting with producers from The Wiz so that he can share his fresh vision and take on the production, and hopefully win them over again.

Julia is going nuts. She hates the whole idea of a dramaturg. Julia is actually freaking out so much that I don’t think Tom really needs to. I did love that she “looked him up on IBDB.” I wonder how many viewers of the show missed that, thought they said IMDB, or just thought they made a mistake? And just as Julia refers to a dramaturge as a “parasite,” up walks Peter Gillman (Daniel Sunjata). Peter does some great sucking up to Tom, but Julia is still resistant.

Karen shows up at Jimmy’s bar (I really don’t know the name, but it’ll always be Jimmy’s Bar to me) to let Kyle and Jimmy know they have an appointment to meet with Derek. Kyle is so nervous it’s hilarious, and in true calm fashion for Jimmy, he has one of the greatest lines in the episode, “Don’t worry about us. One shot’s all we’ll need.”

Julia goes to Peter’s place to talk about the show. She’s impressed with his place (it’s VERY nice). She sees a binder that appears to be the script to Bombshell with copious amounts of sticky notes and writing on it. She’s annoyed and asks him to share his ideas “since you obviously have a lot of them.”

He cuts to the chase. “Bombshell, as it stands, is not a Broadway musical.” Julia is very defensive, siting sold out shows, standing ovations and tears from audience members. Peter’s only reply: “It was Boston.” Not sure if that was a hit to Bostonians, or just a burn to “out of town” audiences.

Peter tells Julia that the show should live on the page, not just in the theatre and Julia just tells him he should have seen the show in Boston. When Julia asks what he DID like about it, Peter says, “I think Marilyn is an interesting topic for a musical.”

Kyle and Jimmy are talking about their musical in their apartment. They basically have nothing in order, and nothing that makes sense. All the papers they are working with are wrinkled and messed up. Jimmy is calm, per normal, and Kyle is stressed because they are missing a song. Some song is in an old notebook that Jimmy no longer has. It’s in “my old notebook. Which I left back at...” and Kyle jumps in to tell him, “Forget it. You can’t go back there. End of story.” They mystery of Kyle and Jimmy’s back story deepens.

Karen and Derek are in the rehearsal hall and Karen reminds Derek that they have to be done by dinner for meeting Kyle and Jimmy. He says they’ll have plenty of time. I can’t help but think that doesn’t bode well. Veronica calls and says she’s set up a meeting with one of the producers from The Wiz and Derek invites them to the rehearsal for the next day, because they’re staging a new scene.

When they start the practice, its Karen singing “Keep Movin’ the Line.” As soon as she started singing, I couldn’t help but think how much better Ivy was. Not that I dislike Karen, but Ivy just has that voice that Karen doesn’t have. And for all of us who are Ivy fans, the scene cut straight to Tom watching a recording of Ivy singing the same song from the workshop in the winter.

Ivy has stopped by Tom’s to pick up a cast recording of Liaisons and lets Tom know that she’s talked her way into an audition for Cecile. Tom is thrilled for her, but Ivy isn’t so sure. “They’re auditioning real names for the role. Like Jenn Damiano and Jessie Mueller.” I can’t help but love these name drops. Outside of a true theatre fan, who knows these names? I can’t help but hope it kicked Damiano, and Mueller up in google search. People SHOULD be searching their names on the internet. Tom assures Ivy that she’s perfect for the role and that it could be her breakout.

Julia bursts into Eileen’s office while Eileen is on the phone. Eileen is obviously dealing with things regarding the federal investigation and is quite annoyed at Julia bursting into the office. Julia tells Eileen that Peter’s notes were completely crazy and that he wanted to change the entire show. When Eileen tells Julia that she thought Peter’s notes were on the mark, Julia realizes that it was a set up. Even worse, Julia finds out that Peter pitched his take on the show to Eileen in Boston, meaning he DID see the show. Eileen informs her that Peter saw the show four times in Boston.

Julia tells Eileen that she refuses to have her work destroyed and Eileen tells her she won’t have to. But quickly follows up with some vicious cat claws, “Julia, no one has invested more in this show than I have. If you don’t want to do the work, I’ll find someone who will.”

Derek has totally switched to his “director” role with Karen. They are in the rehearsal hall and nothing Karen does is pleasing Derek. When Ivy shows up, Derek asks Ivy to watch what they’re doing. When Karen begins to object, Derek shuts her down quickly saying that Ivy has a great eye and can tell them where they’re going wrong.

I swear Julia is teetering between a temperamental toddler and a justifiably angry artist in this episode. She shows up and interrupts Peter’s dinner with friends. She tells him if she has not choice in his involvement with the show, then she wants a scene by scene on what his ideas are.

He accuses her of focusing on the Joe DiMaggio character in Bombshell because she was in love with the actor who played him. Peter also tells her that there was no heat, no lust in the show. He tells her that audiences don’t want to watch Marilyn the housewife. They wanted Marilyn the sex symbol. “Where was the steam on the windows?”

When Peter asks her where the heat was, she tells him she knows heat better than anyone. That she sacrificed a perfectly good marriage for heat. When Peter tells her to prove it, Julia tells him, “Go to hell” and leaves him in the street.

We go back to the rehearsal hall and Ivy watching Karen and Derek interact. You can tell that she loves Derek, but I hate the way they throw these crazy break-out songs into the show. Ivy does a beautiful job singing the song (“You’ve Got a New Friend” by Robyn), but it’s too “Glee” for me. I want REAL, not internal monologues and songs that none of the characters actually see.

Jimmy has broken into someone’s home. Looks like he’s gone to the mysterious place, to get the mysterious notebook, with the song that he & Kyle need for their meeting with Derek. We see a dark, male figure come into the room and say, “You’ve got balls Jimmy. I’ll give you that.” And a scuffle starts.

When Jimmy shows up at the restaurant and give Kyle the song, Kyle is upset with him about going back to get the notebook. Jimmy brushes his busted lip off with a “it’s your one shot, right?” When Karen calls to tell them that she and Derek won’t be making it, Jimmy is back to “brooding Jimmy” mode and tells Kyle they’re leaving.

We see Julia storm in to Tom & Julia’s place demanding that they work all night. She’s on a role AND she’s angry. The next scene is Ivy “auditioning” for the role of Cecil with Tom. When Tom and Ivy start talking about the character of Cecil, Ivy says, “Oh my God. She’s Marilyn.”

Julia, Tom and Peter come storming into the rehearsal hall and Derek says, “What’s going on? Who are you?” and Julia shoves Derek number to the side and does a scene and song about Marilyn and JFK. Veronica tells Derek that it won’t help him with The Wiz. He agrees with her.

Jimmy believes that Karen bailed on he and Kyle and Kyle still trusts her. He believes that Karen will call them back because Karen had put too much into the show.

Derek tries to get Veronica and the producer to leave because the number isn’t appropriate for The Wiz, but they stay anyway. The scene is at Bing Crosby’s home when Marilyn and JFK meet up and leads to the first time they have sex. Honestly, the “hot” song is just a little weird to me. It makes it look like JFK seduced Marilyn. And while I don’t know what happened (heck, I wasn’t even born yet), it just is so weird compared to what the original Bombshell was going for. I think I liked the original version better.

When the scene ends, we see that Jimmy has shown up. When Derek asks who he is, Derek says, “Jimmy who?” Jimmy storms out with Karen running behind him, the producer from The Wiz storms out with a “That was supposed to change our minds?” Eileen is thrilled. I can’t help but get a feeling there are fireworks underneath the friction between Julia and Peter.

Ivy calls Tom to let him know she got the role of Cecile. This makes me happy. Ivy deserves to be the lead in something. She’s too talented to be passed over. Ivy also tells Tom that he’d make a great director. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

Jimmy and Karen are standing on the street in Times Square and Jimmy tells Karen that she’d better be the one to tell Kyle if she wasn’t going to help them. It’s becoming more and more obvious that there is some SERIOUS history between Kyle and Jimmy. While not of the romantic kind, I am excited to see how this plays out. There’s got to be a huge backstory here and I’m hoping that Smash really goes in and explores it. 

When Tom, Julia, and Peter are discussing the new scene and Julia’s approach, Peter tells Julia that she “didn’t hit the scene out of the park” as she says she did. He disagrees that Marilyn was the prey and JFK the predator. This appears to be something that he and Julia may never agree on. Julia is looking at it form a woman’s point of view, obviously, and Peter see’s Marilyn for the sex symbol she was. Tom ends up jumping between the two of them to stop the fighting.

When Derek leaves the rehearsal hall, Veronica is waiting. She lets him know that she’s dropped out of The Wiz (WHAT!?!) and wants to take chances with her career. Chances that she’s not been allowed to take as Broadway’s sweetheart. Veronica wants to stage a one night only show and she wants Derek to direct it. Derek sees Karen leaving and asks Veronica for a rain check on her invitation to talk about her show. “There’s something I’ve got to do.” He takes off after Karen.

There’s a knock on the door at Jimmy & Kyle’s place. Jimmy’s drunk and when Kyle tells him that Karen and Derek are at the door, Jimmy accuses Kyle of being drunk. Jimmy doesn't talk to Derek when he walks in. He sort of apologizes for his behavior earlier in the day. Jimmy tells him “It’s cool you cam. You kept your promise.” Kyle offers Derek a beer and then we see Jimmy and Kyle telling the story of the show. Jimmy is obviously passionate about the story. It appears that this might actually be Jimmy’s story. The pieces start to fall together.

The episode ends with the four of them working on the show in Jimmy and Kyle’s apartment.

So now we have THREE musicals going on in Smash. Kyle & Jimmy’s show. Bombshell. Liaisons. And technically there could be a fourth, with Veronica’s one night only show. This is actually an improvement for Smash. I know people are often working on several things at once. And it keeps the show from being too focused on Bombshell. Because I have a feeling Bombshell could be a bombshell. If they don’t get their act together and decide on a direction for the show.

With ratings dropping like crazy on the show, we may not ever know how everything ends up, but I hope Smash stays around. If you aren’t watching, START.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Catch Me Cake!

Back in 2011 I was lucky enough to see the short lived (too short lived in my opinion) Catch Me If You Can on Broadway. It was a show that I wasn't super interested in and ended up LOVING after I got a chance to see it. Even now, the cast recording is often on my playlist when I need a pick me up.

A few weeks ago the tour stopped by Tennessee Performing Arts Center and I was very sad that I didn't get a chance to see it, BUT knowing it was there made me yank out my cast recording again and it got my creative juices flowing.

I ended up making a cake that was Catch Me If You Can themed! I wanted to do cupcakes, but it ended up not happening (time is scarce around here right now!). Either way, I wanted to share my creations with you.
Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meet Penelope

Some of you might not know me from the world of theatre. Some of you may know me from my other blog instead. I live with Type 1 diabetes. I've had diabetes since I was 4 years old. Part of my diabetes management is insulin that I take through an insulin pump that I wear twenty-four seven. 

Sometimes my world of theatre makes it's way into my world of diabetes.I purchased a skin for my insulin pump. And I named her (this is normal in the world of diabetes).

Meet Penelope.  

Obviously, I went with my favorite musical American Idiot. I figure if I'm gonna have something attached to me 24/7, I want it to represent a little bit of myself. In fact, my last insulin pump had a Wicked skin. Her name was Lola. 

See? Theatre can take over all kinds of areas of your life if you let it. :) Some people get tattoos of their favorite musicals.... I just stick them on my insulin pump.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


This year’s (mostly) children’s show at Cumberland County Playhouse is Footloose. I love these productions. Every year CCP does a show that’s mostly children and young people and it’s always a fun show to see. I also have a confession to make: I love the movie Footloose (original, of course) and I even own the movie soundtrack.

I couldn’t help but wonder how they were going to translate a movie with a great soundtrack into an actual staged musical. The staged version varied only slightly from the movie version, and they were able to make the songs fit in with the show nicely.

Taken from CCP's facebook page
Directed and choreographed by Leila Nelson, this production of Footloose was fun and full of young people having a good time. The set was designed by Jim Crabtree, and as per usual, was pretty amazing. I’ve always thought that the children that participate in these productions are getting an amazing opportunity to work with professionals at every level and getting a chance to see how a professional theatre could run.

For those who don’t know the movie (how could you NOT know the movie?!), I’ll give you a brief rundown. Ren McCormack and his mother leave the big city of Chicago to move in with family after Ren’s father leaves them. They end up in Bomont, a small mid-west town that is controlled by an extremely strict preacher and his cronies on the town council. The number one rule in Bomont? No dancing allowed.

Ren is played by Isaiah Banegas. I’ve seen Isaiah in many productions at CCP, so it was nice to get to see him taking a lead role and doing it so well. Ren is an angry young man, for many reasons, but he just wants to fit in. It’s a double sided character. On one hand, he’s very “worldly” compared to the Bomont kids. On the other hand, he’s seeking approval and running into brick walls no matter which way he turns. Banegas did a great job of showing both aspects of Ren’s personality.

Preacher’s daughter Ariel was played by DeAnna Etchison. Complete with red boots and a need to rebel, Ariel fights the need to be the daughter her father wants while still being the person she wants to be. Her relationship with her father is strained, at best, and her sudden attraction to Ren has made things worse. Etchison has a lovely voice and I enjoyed watching her onstage. Her ability to portray Ariel’s need to break out of her life and her town was charming to watch. You couldn’t help but cheer for her through the entire show.

Resident best friends Rusty and Willard were played by Emily Swafford and Lenny Lively. Both were hilariously funny in their roles. Rusty just wants Willard to pay attention to her and Willard is so awkward and shy that you can’t help but laugh at their interactions. Lively got the most laughs on stage the entire night. He had a way of taking the character of Willard and hamming him up, without making you feel weird about it (if you’ve ever seen an actor ham up a role that made you feel weird, you’ll understand what I mean). 

Reverend Shaw Moore and his wife Vi Moore are played by Jason Ross and Weslie Webster. Both resident actors at Cumberland County Playhouse, it was no surprise that they took their roles and owned them. Having seen them both play a variety of roles, it’s nice to know that you’re always going to get consistently good acting from them, without feeling like you’re seeing the same character over and over again. Webster’s Vi stands strong behind her husband, but lets him know when he’s making a decision that will hurt more than help. Despite several years of the Reverend’s stand-offish and strict personality, Vi lets him come to his personal realizations without alienating him.

Taken from CCP's facebook page
Some of the best numbers in the production were the group numbers from the kids. The show started with the title number, “Footloose”, and it was the perfect start to the show. It allowed the ensemble members to get a chance to shine, right from the beginning. “Somebody’s Eyes” was also a great number and helped show how much a small town can be like a fishbowl. I know I often felt like I was always being watched when I was growing up. Heck, sometimes I STILL feel that way. It’s a part of small town life. The most hilarious number in the entire show went, of course, to Lenny Lively’s Willard. “Mama Says” is basically a collection of crazy (but somehow true) things that Willard’s mother has told him throughout his life. It was great moment for laughs in the show.

This show is worth your time if you enjoy seeing a bunch of kids and teens on stage having a BLAST. It would be great for families with children, and great if you just loved the movie. Footloose plays at Cumberland County Playhouse thru February 24th. You can get tickets by visiting their website HERE, or by calling the box office at 931-484-5000. And if you’re into the whole social media thing, you can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Fallout: Smash Season 2 Episode 2

Warning: Spoilers Ahead! 

The second hour of SMASH started out with Karen basically stalking Jimmy by waiting outside his work. He plays his typical bad-boy thing by trying to hit on her when she asks about the voice mails she’s left him. When she asks about his music again, he denies even writing it, even after Karen tells him that Kyle told her that Jimmy wrote it. It’s immediately obvious that Jimmy wants nothing to do with Karen helping him with his music. When Kyle rushes down the street after Karen, she tells him that Jimmy doesn’t want her help. Kyle tells her that Jimmy does want her help…he just doesn’t know it yet.

Eileen asks Derek and Tom to attend the American Theatre Wing Gala and not to get attached to any other projects until she can get the money issues straightened out with the feds. She also lets them know that Karen has been asked to sing a number from Bombshell at the ATW Gala and requests that Julia be there in cocktail attire (which in her words means “no scarves”). Throughout the entire exchange Derek & Tom continually throw digs at each other, so that’s one relationship that hasn’t changed in the new season.

We see Sam and Ivy walking down the streets of New York again. It’s official that Sam is going on tour with Book of Mormon and Ivy can’t help but complain that she can’t even get a callback for a commercial. They end up running into (but first trying to avoid) and old actress “friend” Lisa McMann (played by Annaleigh Ashford!). Lisa has left the business and gone into…. Stationary?? She’s apparently done well for herself and is happy.

Derek ends up in a meeting only to find out that the producers of The Wiz are letting him go because the local news has picked up a story with five more dancers coming forward to sue him for sexual harassment. He finds out that Ronnie was still fighting for him, but it wasn’t enough to keep him on the project.

Eileen’s ex Jerry shows up just as Eileen is finding out that she, along with the creative team, have been uninvited to the ATW Gala. It very much appears that Jerry is behind the ATW ban when Eileen tells Jerry that he owes her and requests that he give her his table for the Gala. He acts surprised…but not really.

Eileen does a conference call with Derek and Tom to let them know that Karen isn’t singing, but they are meeting before the Gala. Even though Tom told Eileen that Julia was meeting with her realtor, we find that Julia is still in bed asleep. Or better yet, wallowing in her sadness. When he tells her about the ATW Gala, Julia begs off and when Tom tries to talk her into it, she basically lays a guilt trip on him. He finally gives her a pass and tells her that he’ll make her excuses to Eileen so that she doesn’t have to go.

Kyle and Karen are sitting at those horrible tables in Times Square! (Really, I can see the Marriott in the background. Go inside. There’s a nice bar there. Order a drink.) He’s showing Karen scratch papers that Jeremy writes on when he’s inspired. Karen isn’t impressed. She can’t really make sense of anything written on the papers and she thinks that she’s been led to believe there’s a musical when there isn’t. Kyle ends up inviting her to their place later that night to a party. He tells her to have a friend play what’s on the paper and then to come to the party if she’s interested in finding out more. She doesn’t commit.

Derek waits outside a pilates studio on a dancer. Daisy is one of the five dancers accusing him of sexual harassment. She tries to avoid him, but he walks with her down the street and he tells her that he never touched her. Daisy says she didn’t say that he touched her. It was interesting to watch the conversation between the two because Daisy is very blunt with him. She tells him that he doesn’t treat his position of power with respect. I thought I saw a moment of understanding on his face as Daisy walked away.

Tom runs into Harvey Fierstein (!!!) on the street and they have a hilarious conversation in which Harvey has heard rumors that Tom and Julia have broken up and that Julia has had a breakdown. Tom quickly lets him know that he and Julia are still a team and in the course of the conversation he tells Harvey that he and Julia are giving a speech at the American Theatre Wing Gala that night. Someone was exaggerating just a little bit I think.

Derek getting drunk at what I am now affectionately calling “Jimmy’s bar” with Jimmy as his bartender. He asks Jimmy, “If you have something someone wants does that mean you can’t sleep with them?” In true Jimmy fashion, he answers “I don’t know, my shift is over.”

When Derek tries to hit on a random woman, she hits him. During this, I’m not sure if it was the punch from the random woman, or perhaps he was drinking absinthe, Derek has this really wild hallucination that involved dancers in tight black dresses and hot pink high heels. This was almost as weird as the strange Bollywood number from season one. I’m really hoping this doesn’t become a normal thing for SMASH.

By the time Tom gets back to the apartment, Julia has already been told that she and Tom are speaking at the ATW Gala. She’s freaking out and running around the apartment trying to get ready and write a speech all at the same time. Tom laughs at her, but doesn’t tell her that it wasn’t actually happening. I could totally see this coming back to bite him. But the fact that Julia is out of bed seems to override anything else.

Ana and Karen (and a few other Bombshell ensemble members) are in their apartment while Ana plays from the pages that Kyle gave Karen. They all like what they here and someone makes a comment about him being “Jonathan Larsen-good.” It was funny to hear that little reference there.

When Julia shows up to the ATW Gala she immediately walks up to Miriam and starts asking when in the program they would speaking at the event. Miriam just looks confused. Miriam informs Julia that they weren’t invited to speak as Tom walks up. When Julia realizes that Tom lied to her she’s not only angry at Tom, she’s thoroughly embarrassed that the fools she’s made of herself. Tom apologizes and says he didn’t know what to say because she was so excited and it got her out of bed. He’d been so worried about her. Tom is nearly at his wits end with Julia and finally tells her that the rumor is going around that Julia couldn’t hack it on Bombshell and that Tom should find a new writing partner. As angry as he is, he tells her, “I don’t want a new writing partner. I just want my old one back.”

Karen and Ana head to Brooklyn to Kyle and Jimmy’s party. I find the apartment they live in hilarious. I know there’s no way that they could afford something like that on a bartender’s paycheck. But, hey, it’s television, right? When Ana sees Jimmy for the first time she tells Karen how hot he is. Karen goes over to speak with Jimmy and they share some verbal jabs with heavy sexual undertones. I can already see that this is going to be a love/hate relationship between the two of them.

Derek shows up drunk on Ivy’s front stoop. She asks why he’s there and he still is wanting to know what he’s done wrong. He’s says “I’m not a complete monster, am I?” Ivy just wants to know why he cares what she thinks now. When she mentions that she’s thinking of leaving the business he tells her she’s too talented to quit. When she mentions that she wasn’t Marilyn, he says “You weren’t MY Marilyn. What do I know?” 

Miriam and Eileen have a tense conversation at the ATW Gala in which she basically tells Eileen that she and Tom & Julia need to leave because Miriam has an organization to protect and that she can’t have even a hint of impropriety associated with the organization.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Karen and Jimmy are doing some serious flirting that ends with Karen practically giving him a lap dance while singing one of his songs to him surrounded by everyone at the party. He looks extremely uncomfortable and it ends in Jimmy, Kyle and Karen yelling at each other on a dark street while Jimmy accuses Karen of stealing his songs and telling Kyle he doesn’t write anything for their musical. He has some serious anger issues to deal with and I wonder what on earth is at the root of these issues.

Eileen, Tom and Julia make a phone call to Karen and get her voice mail, before calling Ivy. Ivy and Derek show up and they crash the party by jumping on stage and Ivy sings the HELL of out a song we hadn’t heard before. “They Just Keep Moving the Line” is a good number ad Megan Hilty makes if fabulous. I swear I could listen to her sing the phone book. When Ivy’s finished the number, the entire Bombshell team walks out.

Eileen and her ex Jerry run into each other in the lobby of the office building. He notes that she made quite the impression at the ATW Gala. She lets him know that the U.S. Attorney’s wife was present and she liked the performance so much that they’d been given permission to resume work on Bombshell. When Jerry asks how she’s going to resume work on the show when she doesn’t have any money she doesn’t have an answer. He asks how much she needs and she informs him she will have her lawyer draw up a contract. 

Kyle isn’t speaking to Jimmy. Jimmy apologizes for overreacting, but can’t help but say how much Karen annoys him. Kyle tells him, “I’ve been cleaning up after you since you were a kid” giving a little insight into the history that the two share. I have a feeling this should be an interesting relationship to watch as well. Kyle also tells him that writing the book for the musical isn’t just sitting and watching him write the songs.

Jimmy shows up at Karen & Ana’s apartment, thanks in part to Ana leaving Karen’s headshot on the fridge the night before. Jimmy gives Karen a USB jump drive and tells her that it has everything he’s written so far and that the reason he was giving it to her was because he owed it to Kyle.

Ivy shows up at Derek’s apartment to talk with him again and realizes that Karen is over (sharing Jimmy’s music with Derek) and Karen can’t help the dig “I heard you saved the day. I was on the subway when they called me” letting Ivy know that she was second best again. Really, this is a side of Karen that I do NOT like at all.

The show closes with Ivy looking sad as she the elevator doors close.

I found the second hour of the show to have more Broadway cameos, which made me very, very happy. I wonder where the rest of the story is going from here. Obviously they are going to land on Broadway, but there are so many side stories going on right now that I’m not sure what to expect. With Jimmy & Kyle. With Jimmy & Karen. With Tom & Julia. With Jimmy & Kyle’s musical. There is so much going on right now that it almost makes my head spin. What did you think folks? I’m thinking that next week should be interesting. Let me know if you want me to keep up the recaps. I may try to keep with it through the rest of the season, but I’m not sure yet.

On Broadway: Smash Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Season two starts out at the end. The end of Bombshell’s run in Boston, that is. We get another song from this faux musical called “Cut, Print, Moving On.” Personally, I liked the song, and this made room for the montage showing the cast, crew and creative returning to NYC. Karen has moved in with friend Ana (Krysta Rodriguez, who I’m THRILLED we’ll be seeing more of this season), signaling the end of her relationship with Dev. Ivy returns home and ditches all of her pill bottles a’ la Diana Goodman. Through the montage and the opening scenes it’s easy to see that Karen isn’t letting Ivy off easy. Karen even refuses to be in the same elevator with Ivy.

A creative team meeting with producer Eileen, writers Tom & Julia, and director Derek is quite the informative scene. Michael Swift wants out of his contract (there’s no arguing about that change from anyone). Julia refuses to read reviews, which Derek finds ridiculous. And Eileen announces she’s meeting with Jordan Roth to book “the best theatre New York has to offer: The St. James.”

Derek introduces Karen to Broadway Sweetheart Veronica Moore, played by Jennifer Hudson. We see a short part of Veronica’s show, and while I never really picked up the exact title of the song (or the show), Veronica’s performance was fabulous. It makes me wonder when Jennifer Hudson will come to Broadway for something more than a concert performance.

Seeing Ivy & Sam chatting about Ivy not being called for contract renewal is interesting, but only because they are sitting at those metal tables in Times Square. Who actually SITS at those tables? I think I once tied my shoe using one of the chairs. But I can’t imagine anyone outside of a tourist sitting at those tables and having a drink. Even being a tourist myself, I’d rather walk to the Marriot and go sit in the bar. But, it makes for good filming, I suppose. Great shots of Times Square and all.

We head back to the dressing room where Derek and Karen are talking with Veronica. Derek is apparently about to take the helm of a revival of The Wiz. Veronica is lined up to take on the lead role. When Derek asks Veronica to give Karen some advice, she tells her to “Protect the work.” And before heading out the stage door, she says “Get Ready. This is gonna be you in 6 months.” She heads out to a stage door full of camera flashes and yelling fans.

While Eileen waits in a restaurant to meet with Jordan Roth, her ex-husband Jerry shows up again. He throws his typical barbs about her not having the money or the friends to get her show to Broadway. Sadly, there was no drink throwing this time. Although Eileen does tell him to “Get out of here before I throw another drink at you.” Is this the first time Jerry Rand has NOT had Eileen throw a drink at him on this show? I think it might actually be.

Jordan Roth comes sweeping in full of smiles and announces to Jerry that he’s offered the St. James to Bombshell. This is immediately followed up by Eileen getting a call from Nick. She wastes no time before telling Jerry that Nick is her boyfriend. As both Eileen and Jordan walk away, Jerry texts someone (mysterious!) and tells them to go ahead with “the plan.”

While practicing for the press “soirée,” Karen finds out that Ivy will be singing a separate number with the ensemble. Karen is obviously disturbed by this. Ivy approaches Julia about her future with the show, and Julia tells Ivy to apologize to Karen again, and advises her that she may have been apologizing for the wrong thing. I worry more than a little about Karen at this point. We can see she’s run directly to Derek about Ivy’s participation in the press event. She waits for him while he does an interview with Michael Reidel. Reidel asks about Rebecca Duvall’s abrupt departure from the show. When he asked that question, I actually had to think for a moment about who Rebecca Duvall was. Oops.

As Karen waits for Derek we get our first glimps of highly anticipated (at least by me) Jeremy Jordan. Jordan is playing a bartender named Jimmy. You can already tell there is going to be some friction between Karen and Jimmy when she calls him on his poor people skills. When Karen finally gets her chance to speak with Derek, she tells him she wants Ivy gone. While not said in such a harsh manner, she refers to Veronica’s advice to “protect the work” and Derek tells her that it’s done. Do we think this is the end of Ivy’s participation in Bombshell? Not by a long shot. But the fact that Karen has taken her problems with Ivy this far is sad. I think it takes some of the “sweet/innocent” away from Karen’s personality.

Sam and Tom still appear to be going strong in their relationship, though to this point in the episode, we’d seen little of it (I was beginning to wonder). Sam tells Tom he’s been offered a leading role in the Book of Mormon tour, but that he’s passing it up to stay in the city with Tom. Tom tells Sam he’s crazy, but Sam says he’s staying with Bombshell and with Tom. While they are walking down the street, they also see Frank, Julia’s husband, putting a lady into a cab. They appear very comfortable and it’s obvious that Tom thinks Frank could be cheating on Julia.

The press soirée is where everything begins to fall apart. After the interview with Michael Reidel, Rebecca Duvall announced to the press that she left Bombshell because Derek sexually harassed her. This is causing all kinds of trouble for Derek with the producers of The Wiz. Veronica gives him her support and he asks her to call the producers for The Wiz to give her support.

Stage manager Linda approaches Frank about how happy she is to see Frank & Julia working on their relationship. When Frank approaches Julia about her co-workers known about their personal life, he’s obviously upset. Then Eileen gets a call from Jordan Roth who is backing out of the party ad isn’t telling her if they actually do have the St. James. Eileen looks for a “distraction” and it ends up being Veronica and Karen singing “On Broadway.”

Cue another montage. Ivy shows up. Nick shows up with a somber face and he and Eileen take off to speak in private. Tom pulls Julia aside and whispers something to her. Derek pulls Karen aside after the song and there’s obvious sexual tension. Ivy walks up as Derek is about to kiss Karen and we find out that Derek called Ivy to come to the party. Ivy realizes that she’s being let go because of Karen.

Julia approaches Frank about Tom seeing Frank with another woman and Frank is horrified. He makes a scene that eventually has everyone at the party listening in while Frank spills all the details of his and Julia’s relationship. Michael Reidel shows up just in time to say “Can I quote you on that?”

Ivy makes another attempt at an apology, and almost admits to trying to commit suicide “I almost did something really stupid.” She apologizes for getting in Karen’s way and wishes her good luck before leaving the party. This is the first Ivy apology that I really felt. I actually wanted to like her again!

Tom finds Julia standing outside and she says, “My marriage is over.” It felt slightly like déjà vu to me. But one thing I wasn’t expecting was Julia admitting to reading opening night reviews for Bombshell and being mortified at the all-around panning of her book writing. I do love most of the moments with Tom and Julia. They have perhaps the most heartfelt and real relationship of the entire show.

Eileen admits to Tom, Julia, Derek and Karen that Bombshell is under investigation after someone tipped off the government about the source of the money that Eileen was using to fund the show. What a halt to the party.

Ivy enters another audition and sings “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. Perfect opportunity for another musical montage. I’m beginning to think the writers of SMASH really like their montages. Ivy walks along the streets of New York singing (ironically, or perhaps not so ironically) under the awning of the St. James. We also see Jerry Rand (I’m not sure WHAT he was doing) and Eileen hanging a framed Bombshell window card on her office wall.

Karen has made her way back to Jimmy’s bar and she’s getting wasted by herself at closing. A bartending Andy Mientus plays a fangirling bartender named Kyle who asks Karen to autograph his Bombshell Playbill for his “collection of failed musicals.” When Karen returns to the bar to get her forgotten cell phone she hears Jimmy playing the piano in the back and singing “Broadway Here I Come.” She calls Derek and tells him to listen. Personally, I've already downloaded and listened to this song about a million times since yesterday. It is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

This was the first hour of the two hour seasons premiere, titled “On Broadway” and a great start to the night. It seemed to be clearing up a lot of things left hanging at the end of season one and cleaning up a lot of things that weren't so great in season one.

Still, my favorite part will probably always be seeing all the actors that I recognize from the theatre world. My recap of the second hour of the show will be up soon (I have to get to work on it tonight!). What did YOU think of last night's first hour? Anything surprising? Anything you hated? Anything (or anyone) you loved?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Last weekend I made the trip to see a play that was in the town where I went to college. The entire town has a really active theatre scene for its size, so there’s almost always something going on. This show was at Cookeville Performing Arts Center and was part of their “Backstage Series.”

I love these shows because they are so intimate. The entire show AND audience are on the stage. For this show, in particular, this was an incredible feat as there was a ROTATING set. Such an interesting title of a show, this Christopher Durang piece is entitled Why Torture Is Wrong and the People who Love Them. If you know Christopher Durang, you know that most of his shows are….disturbing, to say the least.

This show was no different. Staged in an incredible way, with a set designed by Kim Frick-Welker (and a shout out to Brandon Walls who is listed as “Master carpenter (Revolve)” in the program), perhaps my favorite part of the entire show was the set. There are several different scenes in the show, so a revolving set made it possible to have totally different sets, with little to no prop movement onstage.

Taken from CPAC's event page on fb
Another great part of the show was the song selection for both the pre-show and the scene transitions. Most were perfect for the mood, or what was happening in the scenes and I often times couldn’t help but silently sing along.

The show itself was funny, but really not my cup o’ tea. From the first scene we meet Felicity, who has woken up with a major hangover, and no memory of the night before, only to find herself married to a stranger named Zamir. Felicity, played by Kate Breidert, seems to be a sweet girl but is completely confused as to how she came to be married to Zamir, played by Matthew Wilson.

Felicity realizes quickly that Zamir is a little….off. He’s got a short fuse, and refuses to get an annulment or a divorce. When nervous and confused Felicity questions Zamir about what he does for a living and his personal life, he’s vague at best. Matthew Wilson does a good job of playing creepy. Zamir is creepy, he’s questionable, and he’s scary.

Felicity takes Zamir to her parents’ home in the suburbs, in part to meet her parents and in part so that she can get some help from her parents in finding a ways out of this marriage. We immediately meet her parents who seem to be as crazy as Zamir, just in a totally different way. Luella, Felicity’s mother, seems to be living in total denial of everything. Beverly Hedgepeth played Luella to be the type of person who adores avoiding reality. She continually talks about theatre, relating everything in her life to a show she’s seen and wanting to know if Felicity has seen any new shows, in spite of Felicity’s insistence that she hates the theatre.

Leonard is the epitome of a crazy right wing conservative. Every single crazy thing that you’ve ever heard is true, or heard made up, about a crazy conservative, Leonard is, says, believes. Leonard is played by Pat Frank. Frank is hilarious in this role. It’s almost a cartoonish take on an outspoken conservative and his wife with her head in the sand.

We later meet the “reverend” who married Felicity and Zamir. Reverend Mike is serious about his title as a reverend…and about his secondary career as a porn star/film maker. A hilarious character, Brent Fleshman gives the good reverend a slimy, yet endearing personality. You can’t help but like him, even though he’s a shady character.

We then find that Leonard is seriously off his rocker by his secret room in his house, and his friends Hildegarde and Looney Tunes who share his views and want to help bring down domestic terrorists. Played by Tracy Clark, it’s immediately obvious that Hildegarde has a crush on Leonard and that she would do anything he asked of her. Looney Tunes was played by Josh Rapp and was just that: Looney Tunes. Also crazy, Looney Tunes makes noises that remind you of your favorite cartoon characters.

When Felicity thinks that it’s possible that Zamir might be a terrorist, her father thinks the same thing. While Felicity is one to just pacify the situation, her father wants to do the exact opposite. When Zamir and Leonard meet, they immediately dislike each other. Felicity just wants the whole thing to go away, and Luella just keeps talking about theatre and changing the subject.

In true Christopher Durang fashion, there are bloody body parts in this show, and a very, very, very odd ending involving time travel. Honestly, when the show was over, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d seen a bashing of the conservatives, a Dr. Who special, or a comedy. And I kind of liked that.

While it wasn’t a show for everyone (the people sitting in front of me left at intermission), it was a show that was well done, well-acted, and funny, if you don’t take things too seriously. I enjoyed myself and left only slightly confused (time travel seems to do that to me).

I’m sad to say that it closed this past Friday and I’d like to apologize to the cast for only now getting this posted. It was a fun show and something on the fringes of “acceptable” in the mostly conservative South. Which is something I’ve come to expect from theatre in the Cookeville area.

You can check out the upcoming shows at Cookeville Performing Arts Center by visiting their website.