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.

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