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'Smash:' Potential, depth, production value

By Tallyn Owens
Executive Entertainment Editor
Musical numbers, Broadway or otherwise, are an acquired taste.
However, they are always big, flashy and as “Glee” has taught us, disgustingly elaborate — even if they’re fake.
And if disgustingly elaborate is the route that a Broadway show (or the show about a Broadway show) chooses to take, it should at least be done well.
NBC’s latest big-budget production, “Smash” is the best example to date of elaborate fictional musical numbers being executed in a way that both entertains and exhibits a fine display of craftsmanship.

The musical drama, which premiered on Feb. 6, centers around the team of composers, directors, producers and of course, starlets, who all hope to create a new Broadway show based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
In addition to the all-star cast including Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston and former “American Idol” contestant Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright, the unlikely newcomer vying for the role of Marilyn, “Smash” has an all-star crew to match, including seasoned Broadway producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan.
And this other guy, Steven Spielberg, maybe you’ve heard of him?

“Smash’s” pilot had been available on iTunes and since then, I’ve watched it no less than three times and therefore I can say: this show has a startling amount of potential. 
Aside from the two leads, McPhee and Broadway actress Megan Hilty, who have voices to match their beauty, the supporting cast of “Smash” provides an inside look into the catty underbelly of musical theater. 
My favorite supporting character as of the pilot is Tom (Christian Borle, whom Wikipedia informed me was once married to Sutton Foster, my favorite real-life Broadway singer), the second half of a composing duo lead by Messing’s Julia. 
Tom embodies a bitter gay man, which is essentially my mindset on most days, whether by choice or not.
Also, his naive assistant, who has already made the mistake of leaking a private recording session, brings the interesting perspective of a theater fanatic caught up in the creation of a new show.
In addition to the characters that each serve a distinct purpose, each musical number featured in the pilot serves a distinct purpose as well.
The most emotionally relevant and climactic number, “Let Me Be Your Star” which fills up the final scene of the pilot. (Available here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu4oYy8VgHQ)
The song is interesting because while written to fit the storyline of Marilyn’s own quest for stardom, it also provides an obvious parallel between the same search that Karen and Ivy (Hilty) are going through.
It’s too early to tell if “Smash” will be able to live up to its name, but, as with most things, only time will tell.

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