According to NBC.com, the latest episode of SMASH is called, “The Fringe.” I honestly wasn’t sure because nobody ever once said the title. As many of you know, I never watch SMASH when it airs because I’m on Broadway. Streaming it off my iPad proved tedious this morning due to some excessive buffering. I soon realized it was because my hairstyle wasn’t asymmetrical enough to view anything taking place in the Hit List plot line. Now that I’m back from the East Village with the right side of my head shaved off, I’m ready to rock!
Top 10 Times SMASH Didn’t Give a Shit and Other Things I Loved: “The Fringe”
1.) It’s the Fringe! : Two weeks have passed in the SMASHiverse and now Hit List is ready to debut at FringeNYC. I’m going to ignore the fact that the amount of time between the FringeNYC application deadline and day of performance is actually longer than the amount of time that has taken place between the pilot and this episode. SMASH don’t give a shit! It’s the Fringe. The Fringe is where it’s at. Your show might be in a basement now, but sometimes you break out! Just ask Urinetown. And… Urinetown.
Kyle is really excited because “real people are coming.” Not the fake kind of people that come whenever our producers paper the house. You know who else is coming for you, Kyle? The FringeNYC Legal Team. Because now they own 2% of everything Hit List ever does. I guess it will end up being Kyle’s 2% because Jimmy will eventually throw him under the bus for doing absolutely nothing. Werk!
The Fringe was another great moment for Ana to not give a shit. I don’t know what the hell she does in Hit List, but she was forced to perform with non-equity people. So that explains why she was hanging outside the theatre at five minute call. Ana is like, “Um. This is a Showcase contract…” Ana also don’t give a shit about winter. Jimmy complained that there wasn’t any heat in the theatre, yet Ana is completely comfortable galavanting with Karen outside in a sleeveless top. We didn’t see her day drink in this episode, but I’m pretty sure she was warm from being high on awesome.
2.) Jerry Gives a Shit! : I want Jerry to produce everything. He sees through all the bullshit. Jerry thinks that Bombshell has “a lot of music” and one song “too many.” A wise man once tweeted, “Somewhere in the bowels of the Titanic, there is a trunk big enough to fit all the songs written for Bombshell” I agree with Jerry. I don’t like songs that are intellectual either. I like songs that make me feel something. They can’t be both. That’s why Jerry and I enjoy She Loves Me. Bock and Harnick wrote dumb, unintellectual songs but they make me feel good cause they sound pretty.
Jerry also said, and forgive me if I’m paraphrasing, “If we’re not going to have a star we need to put a lot of crap around her.” This leads Tom to surround Karen with a bunch of distracting dancers. I hope the future Michael Bennetts of Broadway are paying attention. Divas can’t sing alone. Derek taught us this when he re-imagined Veronica Moore’s “I Got Love” and Karen’s “They Just Keep Moving the Line.” Audiences like shiny things that distract from the plot.
3.) Introducing Karen Cartwright: Look, an Ivy-free Bombshell only works if it’s Bombshell: Introducing Karen Cartwright. Nobody is going to go see Bombshell if they find out the star they’re “introducing” did two performances in a festival that showcases two hundred productions. I almost bought tickets to see Thoroughly Modern Millie: Introducing Sutton Foster, but then I found out she had already done four Broadway shows, so I demanded a refund. Jerry is right. Introducing ain’t Introducing unless it’s INTRODUCING. We all know what happened when NBC tried to sell SMASH: Introducing Katharine McPhee like we had completely forgotten House Bunny or that other thing she did in the spring of 2006. Karen ended up doing Hit List anyway, and when she made her entrance in “Heart Shaped Wreckage,” she was giving us full on Soul Botox.
4.) People Still Hate Ellis: Ellis has been off our television sets for nearly ten months, but his ex-girlfriend (Phylicia Rashad’s daughter) came back to tell us that he was a “psychopath” and “gay.” I’m really glad they resolved her plot line. Cynthia Moran was honestly the most sympathetic character from season one. Her boyfriend may have been gay. He may have also been a psychopath. But you know what’s worse? He was Ellis.
SMASH has yet to acknowledge Julia’s pregnancy cliffhanger from last season, but they brought back Cynthia McClueless to let us all know she’s moved on. Ok…Ok… I guess she was really there to tell Karen something shady was up with Jerry. Who cares??? This moment when Cynthia joked about Ellis was honestly the first time I’ve seen genuine emotion in Karen Cartwright’s eyes. That’s how much people hate Ellis. I actually think SMASH is bringing Ellis back later in the season just to kill him off.
5.) That Awkward Moment When … :
- Ana’s boyfriend tried to play the piano but couldn’t find the beat.
- Margo Lewinsky slowly began her transformation into Ellis.
- Morgan James attended the first performance of Hit List and tweeted about it. #horrified.
- The Liaisons cast got in full makeup and costume for a press event where the ensemble stood behind the performers so the reporters could see their own self judgement.
- The Liaisons director was pretty much just a dramatization of every PA I’ve ever had.
- Karen offerred to give Understudy Audrey some “pointers.”
- Jimmy said he was going to go, “get high.” Not drunk. Not stoned. Not coked out. What exactly is Jimmy’s mystery drug? Is it the same as Ana’s?
- NBC Universal gave a rather subtle plug for their other troubled show, WICKED. “Nine years later it’s still one of the highest grossing shows on Broadway!”
- Karen told Derek her big break may never happen again. LOL, Karen.
- Cleopatra Rand shot an entire scene in broad daylight.
- Julia and Tom went to Chinatown.
- Julia and Tom spent roughly eight hours in Chinatown.
- Karen got the “none for Gretchen Weiners” cold shoulder when Jesse L. Martin invited Team Hit List out for drinks.
6.) Jimmy Don’t Give a Shit about Kickstarter: Jimmy is stressed out about how much of his own money he spent producing Hit List at the Fringe. He even suggests going back to work at “Table 46,” which is strange because I swore Jimmy had a new job at “Drinking Beer & Wearing Grey Wife-beaters R Us.”
I don’t understand this concept of spending your own money on your extracurricular activity. Last time I checked, that’s what Kickstarter.com was for. Like… I’m still scratching my head over this… Where did Jimmy get all that money from? Was it in his bank account? Did he work for it? I’m confused. The only way I know how to fund a staged reading, album, web series, Veronica Mars movie, or my most recent vacation is by shamelessly asking my friends for money on Kickstarter. This was one of the rare times when SMASH went from playfully not giving a shit, to just plain unrealistic.
7.) Never Understudy Karen: Clearly PSM Linda liked Julia’s other draft of Bombshell better, because she couldn’t be bothered to show up to rehearsal this episode. If she had, then I doubt Karen would be allowed to bolt out after Derek and then just hop in a cab and forget to go back to see if rehearsal was actually canceled. I’m sure Linda would have made them run music or something. Don’t fuck with Linda.
Karen makes it back down to the Fringe and Understudy Audrey is given the boot. Karen loves to wait until her understudy is hair and makeup ready before making a glorious entrance. Last time she did this to someone, Ivy almost deep throated a bottle of Prednisone. Covering Karen is DANGEROUS. Since we never actually see what happened to Understudy Audrey, I can only assume she died.
8.) Bombshell’s Ensemble: Veanne Cox provided the most meta moment of the evening when she said, “I have never been so ashamed of my work before. And I was in Urban Cowboy.” Ms. Cox was not actually in Urban Cowboy. She is, however, on SMASH. She is also suggesting that Urban Cowboy, a musical that appeared to only have been produced to showcase Matt Cavenaugh’s abs, in fact, included a character woman. That’s one more character actor than has ever been present in Bombshell.
Instead, the womanizing Derek Wills’ has given us an ensemble of male body builders in cut off shirts. And these boys are giving me ACTING BEATS during Tom’s version of “Never Give All the Heart.” At one point a male dancer walks to Karen, shrugs, and places one hand behind the back of his neck and the other one firmly in his pocket. I call this the, “Look-How-Cute-And-Conflicted-I-Am” position. It comes right after fifth. I also call FOUL. This guy must have seen my summer season at Forestburgh Playhouse where I used the exact same move as Tulsa, Rolf, Tommy Djilas, the son in La Cage, Baby John, and Tevye. I invented that shit.
9.) Hit List vs. Rent: Hit List is the new Rent. I know this because one of the original cast members of Rent picked up the show to bring it to the Manhattan [New York] Theatre Workshop where Rent premiered. I also know this because Derek Wills’ vision for Hit List is actually Baz Luhrmann’s vision for La Boheme which is an opera based on Rent. And since Kyle doesn’t do anything, I guess Jimmy is also the new Jonathan Larson. The only difference between Rent and Hit List, is Rent had AIDS and Hit List has ANGST. I happen to believe ANGST is a serious epidemic sweeping musical theatre. After years of sitting through shows like Spring Awakening and American Idiot, I almost started my own foundation: Broadway Cares / Equity Fights ANGST.
10.) Jimmy Wildhorn: In previous racaps, I stated that Kyle wrote the lyrics for Hit List as well as the book. I stand corrected. Kyle doesn’t write the lyrics, and last week his friends all but set fire to his book. So… I guess Kyle is head cheerleader now? Since Jimmy’s songs always include a well placed key change and the inability to further the plot, he is pretty much Frank Wildhorn. Karen is obviously Linda Eder. That makes Kyle one of those fans that sees the show three times a week on a rush ticket. Don’t fuck with those people. Those are the same people that kept The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway through four incarnations. Kyle is probably the most important person on the Hit List team. Never underestimate a crazed Broadway fan with a shit ton of time on their hands and a student ID.
A Public Letter to Ivy Lynn:
Dear Ms. Lynn,
You need to stop. You need to stop this madness now. I no longer wish to see you engaging in a well executed arc. How dare you break rank and actually grow as a character.
If you want to win back my trust, I suggest you snatch some of Terry Falls’ meds and take to Duffy Square to perform a one woman concert as Rihanna/Judy Garland doing the music of Elton John in a costume by William Ivey Long. I don’t want depth, Ivy. I want Showgirls. I want you to throw beads on the stage at Liaisons, I want you to have an erotic seizure in the pool at the SoHo House, and for the love of God Ivy, do a pique turn.
Come back to us. Please.
With love and concern,