The first television show aired in 1926. Just 86 short years later, it peaked with the debut of the seminal show 'Smash'. Never quite appreciated in its time, the show was cancelled after only two seasons, never to be heard of again...
*Well, not technically as this concert was filmed in 2015 but it's less dramatic when I say it like that.
If you never watched 'Smash', I worry about your life choices. But let me sum it for you -
Fade in on a girl auditioning to play Marilyn Monroe in Bombshell, the fictional musical about her life. But wait - she has competition. Whether you were Team Karen or Team Ivy, the tale about two rivals kept literally hundreds of gay men gripped in the last decade.
If the talented cast and memorable scenes (Bollywood dance anyone?) weren't enough for you, the jewel in Smash's crown were the songs. What a selection of songs they were. The plan was to make Bombshell a real musical on Broadway but that never happened. In 2015, the majority of the cast got together for a one night only benefit concert performing the songs of Bombshell in New York. Five years later and with a lot of bored people stuck at home craving musical theatre, they put it online.
You get the idea you are in for something special from the opening. Christian Borle and Debra Messing played the fictitious creators of Bombshell on the TV show and reprise their roles for some hilarious banter before the evening truly begins. Before you know it, you are faced with living legends Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty performing one of the all time great musical theatre songs 'Let me be your star'. If that's the level they can start with, how will they sustain it for the next two hours?
The answer is quite easily. The songs come thick and fast. If you want to see a showstopper, Megan Hilty attacking act one closing number 'They just keep moving the line' is as good as it gets. The iconic choreography from the show is also faithfully recreated on stage with jaw dropping routines for '20th Century Fox Mambo' and 'Don't say yes until I've finished talking' (complete with men wearing nothing but towels - always a good thing).
Since coming off the air in 2013, Smash has become a bit of a cult classic and the songs have had a life of their own. As well as 'Let me be your star', 'Don't forget me' has become another classic from the show. Performed as a duet with both Marilyns, it is an emotional standout of the night.
In the intermission, most of the cast members from both seasons are reunited via zoom to talk about their experiences on stage. Mostly interesting, the biggest talking point was why they invited Andy Mientus only to not ask him anything. He got his own back though with the most iconic line of the 30 minute interview in the final question "What's one thing you wish could have happened?" to which he gave the cutting reply "Live until the end of the season"..
The only disappointment was that Bernadette Peters wasn't available to reprise her role as Marilyn's mother Gladys for the gorgeous 'Hang the moon'. We did get guest performances from Jeremy Jordan and original Aaron Burr in Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr, singing his Nat King Cole number from the show.
It wouldn't be 'Smash' without a mishap and Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee coming on stage for their bows too early TWICE is as hilarious as it gets.
This filmed performance only lived to remind us just how incredible and underrated Smash was. The songs still sound every bit as amazing as when we first heard them 8 years ago. After the final number 'Big finish' the cast teased this wasn't the last we'd see of Smash. Sure enough, it was announced today that a musical based on the show is heading to Broadway. With songs like this, there is definitely an audience for it when it does get there.
Filmed beautifully, this really was a flawless piece of theatre that deserves to be watched repeatedly and appreciated. You can watch the full concert and the reunion on the Youtube link below. If you can, make a donation with all proceeds going to The Actors Fund.
If you need a pick me up, I can't recommend watching this enough.
"The 20th Century Fox Mambo" – Katharine McPhee
"Never Give All the Heart" – Katharine McPhee
"The National Pastime" – Megan Hilty
"I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl" – Ann Harada
"Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking" – Christian Borle
"On Lexington & 52nd Street" – Will Chase
"They Just Keep Moving the Line" – Megan Hilty
"Cut, Print...Moving On" – Jeremy Jordan
"Public Relations" – Katharine McPhee
"Second Hand White Baby Grand" – Megan Hilty
"(Let's Start) Tomorrow Tonight" – Leslie Odom Jr.
"The Right Regrets" – Brian D'Arcy James
"Let's Be Bad" – Megan Hilty
So what was your favourite moment of this? And were you Team Ivy or Team Karen?