[A]fter months of massive hype, NBC’s highly anticipated new series “Smash” premiered Monday night. And it’s already creating quite a stir.
The show stars Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty as two struggling actresses in the Big Apple, both competing for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a big broadway production.
The pilot opens with aspiring Broadway star, Karen Cartwright (McPhee), clad in a sparkling silver dress, belting an impressive rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. But like a cold shower, we’re quickly doused back to reality by the sound of a phone ringing in the background. And behold, we’re actually watching Karen sing in front of a panel of casting agents at an audition call.
However, the casting agents don’t look impressed. Seconds later we see Karen get the unfortunate, “Thanks! That’s all we need” and out she goes. Next to be called is blonde bombshell, Ivy Lynn (Hilty), who enters the room ready to audition for the part. But guessing by the show’s premise this won’t be the last time these two compete.
Debra Messing returns as musical writer, Julia Houston, who we’re introduced in the next scene, along with Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) and his assistant Eliss Tanchareon (Jaime Cepero). It’s here where Marilyn, the broadway is first concocted (thanks to the helpful assistant).
Meanwhile, Karen is waitressing, all while ranting to her boyfriend (it’s obvious by the smooch)about how “light” she keeps coming off in the auditions.
Quickly it moves back to Julia whose now at home with her family. We learn early on that her husband wants to adopt, but we can tell she’s a bit relucant. Her husband isn’t pleased on her decision to work oh the Marilyn idea, but unknowingly sparks the enthusiasm some more when he agrees that a baseball scene could be included in the musical.
At a somewhat shaky dinner with her parents, who happen to be in town, Karen is put on the spot when they question her career choice. But like a knight in shining armor, her boyfriend steps in to defend her.
Turns out Ivy and Tom are buddies, and soon start working on a track for the top secret Marilyn project. However, Tom’s assistant tapes Ivy singing and the footage accidentally gets leaked online. Julia and Tom, especially Julia are angry and fearful about the bad press they’re sure to get from all this. But luck is on their side, when a hard-to-please critic praises the demo. Now the musical is officially on.
Or at least it will be if only Julia and Tom can get a director. They end up giving Derek Willis, a highly acclaimed but difficult guy to work with. With the the urgings of Broadway producer, Eileen Rand (played by the fabulous Angelica Houston) and Tom’s disapproval, Derek becomes director. But seeing the hostility between the two men, it’s not going to be an easy alliance.
At tryouts, all the girls turn up dressed as Marily except Karen. From the start, Derek finds her appealing. And with her gorgeous take on Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”, who can blame him. Unsurprisingly, she and Ivy get a callback for the part.
We learn soon afterwards, why Tom has cause to complain about Derek. Seems Derek isn’t a stranger to mixing business and pleasure. He ends up sending Karen a text in the middle of the night in the pretense that it’s for next week’s callbacks. In all naiveness, she goes.
But we’re glad to see she’s made of more grit. Only clad in one of his shirts, (after being forced to show him she can play sexy) and does the famous “Happy Birthday” routine, only to say, “not gonna happen” at the last moment. Now that’s what we’re talking about!
The show ends with both Karen and Ivy singing (separately of course) “Let Me Be Your Star” before cutting off to small snippets of next week’s episode.
“Smash” has definitely wet our appetites. Here’s crossing our fingers the two starlets will finally meet next week.
*Photo credit: NBC Network