So this past Monday night, at 10:00 PM – actually it was 10:06, I parked myself on the couch and got myself into that shark tank that most of us know as the NBC TV Series Smash. By being six minutes late, I missed Katherine McPhee, as Karen Carpenter, singing a nice cover of the Colby Caillat hit song Brighter Than The Sun. This was a studio session to create a demo disc that could lead to a possible deal with Bobby Raskin, the biggest name in the world of music in Smash. We still haven’t met him, nor has Karen, as she blew off the call back.
We were all set up for the Workshop’s presentation of Marilyn, The Musical. But it wasn’t going to happen easy. First of all, the building’s boiler was stuck on full throttle so the rehearsal studio where the Workshop Presentation was being held, was like a furnace. Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) would get that dealt with through her new but not quite installed ‘beau’ who also was the bartender at the watering hole were Eileen claimed he made the best $7 martini’s in the city.
The pressure that was caused by Julia’s (Debra Messing) affair with Michael Swift (Will Chase) reached epic proportions. Michael was all over Julia at the studio. Of course, creepy Ellis was lurking and he overheard Michael and Julia. Later he couldn’t wait to tell Eileen. He is such a rat.
But Eileen wasn’t happy about the news, and even less happy that Ellis was such a snitch. Eileen told Ellis that it was interesting news, but she was going to pretend that he hadn’t told her, and if he said another word about this to anyone, she’d make sure that not only would he be fired on the spot, but that he’d never work again in any Broadway production. So finally – Ellis got put in his place.
Later when Michael’s wife and little son showed up at the final rehearsal the day before the Workshop, Julia had to get the hell out of the studio lest she become sick right there in the studio, in front of everyone. Her writing partner Tom (Christian Borle) followed her out of the building, and collared Julia on the streets. Just one look told him everything.
“You didn’t (he’s asking)… you did sleep with him (he’s stating the obvious)”, said Tom. Julia fessed up and then immediately headed for her home. When she got home, she found her son Leo and his pot-crazed friend there instead of being in school. The confrontation exploded quickly and Leo told his Mom that he knew what she was doing. “And it sucked. And you suck! “, was what he said before he stormed off.
That, and the Mrs Swift and son’s appearance at the rehearsal were the last straws. Julia knew she must end the affair.It wouldn’t be easy, and it wouldn’t be pretty. There will be blood.
Meanwhile, back at the rehearsal studio, there was a surprise visitor. Walking in with Ivy was her mother Leigh Conroy – a Broadway legend – who was played by a real Broadway legend – Bernadette Peters. Well Leigh’s mojo was so powerful that Ivy always felt undermined by her Mom, even when things were meant to be good. Ivy retreated further into her Marilyn persona as Leigh belted out a song for the whole ensemble, Everything’s Coming Up Roses.
That night, at Ivy’s apartment, she had it out with her Mom. Ivy told her mother that Marilyn was a drug-addled disaster, and all because her Mom didn’t love her. Pow! Ivy then popped a sleeping pill on top of the prednisone – a dangerous step.
So ‘Mom’ packed her bag and left. Seems like a one-off done for three reasons. One – to boost ratings, Two – add another reason for Ivy as Marilyn to struggle, and Three – to create another reason for Ivy to lose the role to Karen; drugs. Just like you know who.
Day followed night and the new day was the day of the Workshop presentation. Big Money was at stake. Ivy was very good, although not quite electric. But she was still dealing with the drugs in her system, and at one point, in the first act, she had a small stumble. So Derek, never one to appreciate niceties, took Ivy aside at the ‘intermission’ and gave her a dressing down that she must focus, focus, focus in the second act.
Tom was standing nearby and overheard. He then got all over Derek telling him that berating an actor at intermission just wasn’t done. Derek came back with, “It’s done when the actor is off her game.”
Anyway the second act played out, and Ivy took another half tumble. They got through the show, and received a warm and hearty round of applause. Tom congratulated Ivy and then found out that something about Ivy’s friend Sam. Tom said Sam was too straight. Then Ivy corrected him.“I’ve known Sam since high school, and he’s been my best friend since high school. Sam is gay. Really gaaaay. You’d better get your ‘gaydar’ adjusted.”
To Tom this was a bombshell of news, and from the look on his face – great news. I guess John, the lawyer, who was the guy Tom was seeing, is about to be eased out. They gave us plenty of clues about this beforehand. So I wasn’t surprised. I even predicted it- (Sam + Tom) in my last recap.
Then later, in Eileen’s office there was a meeting: Eileen, Tom, and Julia listened while Derek read out loud some of the just published Tweet’s about the workshop. Apparently some of the folks weren’t impressed. The show was ‘full of holes’, ‘the show was confused’, and …
Eileen said, “Enough. I don’t want to hear any more! The show’s fine and it’s going to be great.” They decided they needed another song number – this time it would be a solo for Karen. And there’s another problem. Michael Swift. This was raised by Tom, who of course, while saying this, was taking Julia’s back. Derek protested, saying that Michael was terrific.
Eileen said, because she already knew about the affair but couldn’t mention it, “I think Tom and Julia should make the call. Julia?”
Julia thought about it for a second then said, “Yes. Michael is a problem. We need to replace Michael.”
The only sounds we heard after were the imaginary sounds of the metaphoric knife slicing its way across Michael’s throat. Fix the show and get Michael out of Julia’s life in only five words.
Yes, Broadway is a jungle. Survival of the fittest. Depending on who was the most connected, or who you were sleeping with. Said another way – tune in next week to NBC’s Smash aka ‘The Shark Tank.’