Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Smash Episode 206: The Fringe

Hit List or La Boheme?
So if it's the WINTER Fringe and Julia's now-invisible son Leo is almost on his WINTER break, how come everyone is dressed as if it's late summer on Smash this week? Last week we were left hanging as to whether Bombshell was going with the earlier, flashy workshop version which flopped in Boston or the new artsy-craftsy, high-toned, Ragtime-Follies-Scottsboro-Boys-Caroline-or-Change money-losing version. We open back in the rehearsal room and it's obviously the former has been chosen with Derek and Karen driving the "Waaah-mbulance" about not getting their way and Tom, Jerry and Eileen lording it over them. Derek pouts as he stages the big Second Act opener Public Relations and Jerry demands another number be cut to make room for it. He decrees the lovely Lead with the Heart get the axe and Julia storms out. Unfortunately, Jerry happens to be right, the show has too many ballads with Marilyn standing solo and nothing happening.

Meanwhile, Jerry also axes Karen's participating in the Fringe production of Hit List. (I was wandering how Karen got from downtown to midtown so fast and how come she didn't get bawled out for being late to rehearsal. And doesn't she have an agent who would tell her she has to clear any other stage appearances with Jerry?) Karen gets back on the subway and delivers the bad news to Jimmy who instead of being a professional and understanding that she can't jeopardize her big break for an incomplete piece of crap performed in a pisshole, throws another hissy fit (getting tired of those, Jimmy!) He complains that Karen is doing this for her boyfriend Derek and before she can deny any hanky-panky with the slimy Brit, Kyle, to cover up his lying ass, quickly tells her to get lost.

Still meanwhile, Ivy delivers the one fun and joyful number of the whole episode at the press event for Liaisons, once again proving she should be Marilyn, not comatose Karen. In response, clownish movie star Terry has the number cut. Later she weeps in front of Terry who does a 180 and appreciates her honesty. (Yeah, like that happens in the real world.)

Tom restages the axed number--actually it is better--and Derek gets all territorial, quitting in a huff. Karen runs after him and urges him to return. He tells her to walk out with him and she says this is her big break, it may never happen again. To which he responds with the dumbest advice ever dispensed, "Yes it will, you just have to believe in yourself." Sorry, but, as much as I hate to admit it, Karen is right. Big Broadway breaks only come once in a lifetime. Ann Marie from That Girl found that out the hard way back in the 1960s. She kept missing her big break and wound up having to marry Donald. A second later, Eileen races up--in heels--to stop Derek. When he huffs off, Karen gives Eileen a juicy piece of info about the despicable Ellis spying for Jerry last season. (Karen learned this from Ellis' ex-girlfriend who just happened attend the Fringe. Residuals for Condola Rashad!)

As Derek and Eileen walk away, Karen sees the Time Out ad for the Fringe and decides to risk her whole future to do one performance of Hit List, an incoherent mess in a drafty pisshole. Jimmy and Kyle moan about the reception of their show's first performance--without Karen--and complain they spent all their money on it. How about moving into a cheaper place? The rent on that monstrous Brooklyn loft must be five figures a month.

Derek arrives at the Fringe performance in time to hear yet another Top 40-style ballad from the pen of Genius Jimmy performed by Karen dressed in a quilt and Jimmy in jeans. They're on a dock somewhere and they've broken up or something. He's an anger-driven guy out for revenge against his step-father and she's a rich girl. I think that's the story. Derek has a fever dream and suddenly the number is right out of Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme with a blazing red neon Pepsi-Cola sign and Karen in a nightgown getting blown by a wind machine. Never mind that Karen could--and should--be fired from Bombshell for doing this. (Does she think that Jerry doesn't read Twitter, Facebook, or Backstage?) Naturally it's a hit and Jesse L. Martin as the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Workshop--an amalgam of New York Theatre Workshop and Manhattan Theatre Club???--says he's interested in Hit List for his theater.

Again if this were the real world, the AD would say, "Nice work, it needs a lot of development. Why don't you take a year or two and call me when you have something a bit more substantial. Meanwhile, here's the number of the BMI workshop."  

The episode ends with Tom taking over the direction of Bombshell and he acts as if this is a surprise when they've been foreshadowing it for about three weeks now.

It's so predictable what's going to happen next--Karen joins Derek on Hit List, Ivy leaves Liaisons for Bombshell, Hit List goes on Off-Broadway and is such a big hit, it moves to Bway just in time to compete with Bombshell at the Tony Awards. I would still vote for Terry in Liasions over Jimmy in Hit List.

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