Broadway Preview: SMASH, A NEW MUSICAL (produced by Steven Spielberg)

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by Jim Allen on May 21, 2020

in Theater-New York


The 2012 NBC TV series, Smash, which had as many loyalists as detractors in its short burst of life, is headed to Broadway, which is where some critics thought it belonged in the first place. Subtitled A New Musical, Smash will be co-produced by Steven Spielberg, whose original idea led to the series creation by playwright Theresa Rebeck. Slated for 2021, the updated book — with songs by Smash’s original team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, will be co-written by Bob Martin (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher), who are currently co-adapting The Princess Bride as a musical for Broadway. Returning from the series is choreographer Joshua Bergasse, whose astounding choreography for the elaborate ballets in the recent revival of On The Town blew me away.

According to a press release, many of the songs that Shaiman and Wittman wrote for Smash will be used in the stage musical. (The songwriters previously adapted another Spielberg property for Broadway, the musical Catch Me If You Can, which was based on his 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.) While the story will generally follow the rollercoaster ride of mounting Bombshell (the Broadway musical-within-the-musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe), the stage musical will depart liberally from the series. The characters Julia and Tom (the writers), as well as Ivy and Karen (the stars) will still be central to the storyline, but all other details are being kept under wraps. Above are Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty, who played actresses both up for the part of Marilyn.

The TV score’s popularity has only grown since the onset. In fact, the cast performed an elaborate benefit concert of the songs from Bombshell at the Minskoff Theatre in June of 2015 which sold out in fifteen minutes. It was filmed but never shown until last night, when it was streamed in its entirety as a corona virus benefit for The Actors Fund.

Above photo original series cast: (l-r) Brian d’Arcy James as Frank Houston, Jaime Cepero as Ellis, Anjelica Huston as Eileen Rand, Jack Davenport as Derek Wills, Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright, Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn, Debra Messing as Julia Houston, Christian Borle as Tom Levitt, Raza Jaffrey as Dev Sundaram — Photo by Mark Seliger/NBC.

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