Smash is officially up and running on NBC! Each week, Broadway.com will offer a cheeky Smash flashback (or Smash-Back) list of five moments that captured our attention in this “most likely to succeed” musical drama. Read on, and see if the same characters and plot twists caught your eye.
Weirdest Reason to Write a Musical: The Broadway composing team played by Christian Borle and Debra Messing acknowledge that Marilyn Monroe already inspired one flop musical. But Borle quickly comes up with a reason to revisit the blonde bombshell: “She married Joe DiMaggio: We could do a baseball number.” When Messing’s husband (Brian d’Arcy James) says exactly the same thing (!), it’s game on: By the end of the episode, there’s a fully staged routine, “The National Pastime,” featuring saucy double entendres about diamonds and chorus guys doing bump-and-grind with baseball bats.
Best Double Take: Reaction shots are notoriously difficult to do well. (For proof, look back at any random Glee classroom performance.) Debra Messing skillfully sets up Smash’s “star is born” plotline with her understated response to Katharine McPhee’s initial audition. Others at the table exchange excited glances as McPhee covers the Christina Aguilera pop hit “Beautiful,” but Messing conveys her approval with nothing more than a quick glance and slight nod to the beat of the song. She makes us believe that a complete unknown might instantly become a contender to star in a big budget musical about Marilyn Monroe.
Dreamiest Boyfriend: How does Raza Jaffrey love Katharine McPhee? Let us count the ways: As a mayoral aide named Dev, he accompanies his girlfriend to dinner with her parents (gently chiding them that their daughter is an actress, not a waitress); lends a sympathetic ear to her nightmare audition stories; plays erotic games and offers wardrobe advice to help her capture Marilyn Monroe’s sexy side; and makes no objection when she answers a late-night booty call from the randy director played by Jack Davenport. What a guy!
Most Untrustworthy Assistant: Jaime Cepero looks to be baaad news as Christian Borle’s uber-helpful assistant, Ellis. This obsequious little rat manages to keep his job after secretly recording a rehearsal video, which turns up on “YouLenz,” and lurks during meetings and auditions he has no business seeing. Borle sets up what’s sure to be a future battle when he says aloud to Ellis that the Marilyn musical “was your idea.” Debra Messing has this guy’s number, but it may be too late.
Best NYC Moment: It’s only a 30-second scene, but Anjelica Huston’s evening stroll through Times Square with Jack Davenport as they chat about working together on Broadway captures everything we love about the theater district in 2012: brightly lit marquees and a central plaza teeming with pedestrians, all under the gaze of the statue of star hoofer George M. Cohan. Smash is giving its regards to Broadway in a very satisfying way.