Monday, March 19, 2012

Smash Report: Living in the Shadows

The day has come. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, for weeks! The big show, aka The Workshop! It’s finally here! But before we head inside for the big show, Julia and Michael have to hide their love from the world. But we don’t have time to revile because Snoopy Ellis overhears stuff that sets off the McSleazy. It’s gonna be a bad day at rehearsal! Meanwhile, Karen goes in for a recording session to record a demo of a lame Colbie Caillat song. Apparently it’s really good. If you wanted to see her shine, let her sing something bigger like, I don’t know, “Let Me Be Your Star”! Michael and Julia get it on in another rehearsal room only to be interrupted by Tom who warns of the wrath of Derek who wants to discuss the “Breakup Scene.” Well let’s not be subtle friends! But wait. Who was looming while Michael and Julia have their unprofessional moment? Snoopy himself! Jeez! Ellis! Where WON’T you hide! I’m afraid to go to sleep in fear of you being around! If ever there was going to be trouble, you bet it’ll happen tonight!
Brad Oscar appears as the building manager who Eileen annoys about the heat. The heat is really on upstairs in the rehearsal room. Linda, our faithful stage manager who has been given an identity, lets Karen go to another recording session, but she gets stopped by the legendary Lee Conroy played by the legendary Bernadette Peters. She’s so legendary t hat the entire room becomes faker than fake. And leave it to Bobby to burst out, “sing something!” When someone offers “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” Tom plays the accompaniment for Bernie/Lee to sing. Now I’m probably be alone here, but I think it’s a total cop out to have Peters sing that song. Of every song in the musical theater cannon, a song that Peters sang about ten years ago on Broadway comes across as, “I didn’t have time to rehearse the song you REALLY wanted me sing so I’m going to sing an iconic song I can pull out of my butt.” While the performance was great, it was lost on me. Anyway, we see that not only does Ivy fall under the shadow of Karen but of her famous mommy. Speaking of mommies, Michael’s wife and son barge into rehearsal. Listen, that would NEVER happen. So why does that happen here? Oh, that’s right, to let Julia have a run out of the room moment. Tom tries to rescue her, but Julia is far too damaged by reality to stay at the place she’s meant to be.
McSleazy is in a pissy mood when he discovers Julia ran off, but Eileen sets Ellis straight when he attempts to tell her of the Michael/Julia bombshell. She threatens to make Ellis never work in theater (and maybe “Smash”…wishful thinking?). Julia arrives home to see bad actor Leo smoking with his pal Mason. The boy is trouble, but he’s acting out because he saw his mommy cheat on daddy. At Ivy’s house, Lee is watching Marilyn and asks Ivy how she’s going to pull it off. Apparently Lee is way bigger than Ivy will ever be. At Eileen’s new hangout, she’s with the boy she just threatened to destroy. Why? Well, I can’t justify it. But she begins to flirt with her new bartender pal. In a montage of beds, we see all our favorites agonizing over the big day. The only one sleeping is Karen, who gets a call from her recording pal. Someone loves her!
Karen brags about her opportunity with Bobby Raskin which makes Jessica and Bobby tell Karen to just leave the workshop to record the demo. In what world does that happen! The heat is still on in the rehearsal room as Julia tells Michael about how her son knows about them. McSleazy wants to hear a part of the play read before the audience comes in, so Julia plays the role of Marilyn as Michael plays Joe aka Julia and Michael have a heated battle with her dialogue. Witty move writers. McSleazy tries to tell Eileen that the project is cursed. Eileen assures him that it will be a brilliant hit. As the audience wanders into the room, agent Joe Machota is in the audience possibly to get one of his big name clients in the production. This irritates Ivy. How does she alleviate the pain? She gossips with Tom about his lover John, his bad gaydar, and Sam who is gay. This leads her to have a near nervous breakdown because she still continues to live in the shadows. Jealousy to the max!
Eileen invites Nick, her new pal, to watch the workshop. Because he has the money to invest or she’s falling for a commoner? The workshop gets underway with an introduction by McSleazy only to get upstaged by Lee Conroy. She makes a scene. Wouldn’t a seasoned veteran know better? As we learned weeks ago, the musical begins with fan favorite “Let Me Be Your Star.” Ivy opens the song, which wows the audience. So much so Lee starts crying and Karen imagines it’s her in the role. We then journey to “The 20th Centurty Fox Mambo.” And then “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Then “The National Pasttime.” It’s basically just a montage of the songs we know a bit more fully formed with doses of Karen’s imagination intersected. Until Karen falls over leading to intermission. At intermission, Michael tries to talk to Julia who shuts him out. McSleazy tells Ivy to “get her head in the game” and focus, breaking the cardinal rule of talking to the cast during intermission. We head back to the performance with Michael singing a new song about how Marilyn hurts him but really it’s about Julia betraying his heart. It’s an interesting number, with the iconic Marilyn skirt moment, but would Joltin Joe really pull that? In the fantasy moment of the song, Michael sings straight to Julia. It’s tender for both. The air finally comes back on right at the end of the show but we never get to see the grand finale. Fitting. The cast does a curtain call and then it’s time for the schmoozing. John tries to compliment Tom but he gets brushed off. Tom! No! Don’t do that to him! We like him! Karen pays Ivy a compliment to the rest of the gypsies who are still on her case for not taking the appointment with Mr. Music Producer. Lee gives Ivy a bravo but can’t say one kind word about her performance. Ivy breaks down and compares herself, again, to Marilyn who had a non-loving mommy.
At Ivy’s, Lee starts to pack up her belongings and mend things with her daughter. Lee tries to warn Ivy of the heartbreak and pain she experienced as an actress. She assures her that she’s good at what she does; she just doesn’t like seeing her not be a star. Her day will come! At the recap, Derek reads the responses from the potential investors. Eileen tells the group they have to regroup, maybe a new Marilyn is in order. She lists a few ladies, including Scarlett Johansson, and Sutton Foster, prompting Tom to say, “stop” allowing for a miraculous hidden gem of the entire series. But the result of the meeting is they need to recast Michael Swift at Tom’s suggestion. This is not only to save the show but to save his writing partner. At home, Julia tries to patch things up with Leo who is slightly interested in how the workshop went. Julia tells Leo that they’re firing Michael (though isn’t it more like going in a new direction?). Leo breaks down after hearing the news. Why? Well, I wish I could tell you. But the episode ends.
So we saw Marilyn the Musical. Would you invest? Did Ivy cry too much in tonight’s episode? Where was Ellis at the workshop? And Dev? Did Karen not invite him! What is the next step for Marilyn the Musical after the workshop? If the promos are any indicator, BETRAYAL.