Daily Dose (Why SMASH Matters)

This is great homework

This is great homework

Happy Tuesday!  I gave you all homework, which was to watch Smash.  Did you do it?  If not, don’t worry, I haven’t watched it yet myself, although it debuts in an hour.  Rob and I decided to be “purists” and watch it on a real TV and not downloaded from iTunes on the computer despite it being available online for a couple of weeks now.  I’m blogging prior to watching it because I have plenty of things to say about why SMASH matters before I watch it.

Let’s start with something that doesn’t have to do with SMASH, but does have to do with show business.  I had an audition today for a currently running Broadway show and it’s a show that has some intense singing.  I also have a fairly whopping sinus thing, which makes the above mentioned intense singing extraordinarily difficult.  Additionally,  I had decided before ever walking in the audition room that I wasn’t right for it and (with that kind of winning attitude) it’s shocking–but I didn’t do my best.  I did okay, but I wasn’t (what I like to refer to as) “shiny”.  You can usually tell who is going to do well because they exude a confidence that makes them “shiny” in the hallway as they wait to audition, or they look “shiny” as they come out.  I was good, but I wasn’t shiny.

The bummer was that it was a Broadway gig, and I haven’t had very many Broadway auditions this year.  So that was an ouch.

And beyond the not getting it?  The worst part?  They were telling people on the spot if they were called back, and doing it out in the hall–a hall

All of us in the 1800's, waiting for an audition.  I wasn't called back that day, either.

All of us in the 1800’s, waiting for an audition. I wasn’t called back that day, either.

full of people who all knew each other because we’re been auditioning together since the early 1800’s.  This means the whole group knew who was called back and who wasn’t, in real time.  “Sharon?  That’s all we’ll need for today.”  Yelled down the hall.  Horrifying. But then again, it was all okay because, like I said, this group of women has been auditioning together since the 1800’s and we know and support each other in that way that only women of a certain age who are still crazy enough to do this, can support each other.  I looked at everyone and said, “Well, it’s not my job.  Good luck everyone!”

Having a touch of a sinus thing coupled with Rob being home to take care of the kids, and me having an el crappo day meant one thing and one thing only.  I came home, crawled into my bed and stayed there for three hours.  I had a great pity party for myself, which ended only when Beatrix climbed into my bed with a small bowl of ice cream, demanded that I watch BLUES CLUES with her, then gave me an unprompted (but sticky) kiss saying, “I love you so much.”

That got me out of bed.

Funnily enough, it put me in a weird head space to watch SMASH tonight because it feels a little bit (or a lotta bit) like I am about to watch my very crappy non-fiction day play out in a very real yet fictional way.  But the fact that a story like my story is about to show up on network TV is reason one why SMASH matters.  I mean….if NBC is using a TV show about the inner workings of the New York City musical theater world to try to drag their network out of a ratings slump…..then ANYTHING can happen.  And even better, apparently someone yelling “That’s all we’ll need” down a crowded hall is such an awful thing that someone wants to write a TV show about it.  Ergo:  My three hour pity party is justified.

Theresa Rebeck.  Uber cool.

Theresa Rebeck. Uber cool.

Theresa Rebeck, the head writer and creator of the show, describes it as a behind the scenes drama like THE WEST WING, but about the making of a new musical.  It is also called GLEE for smart people, but I don’t want to get into comparing it to GLEE, which (I suspect) has a different audience base, and is set in a high school.  Oh, and I have to give you full disclosure here–I am friends with Theresa Rebeck.  Not like, we’re been at each others houses a million times kind of friends, but more like we’ve been to dinner and seen shows together kinds of friends.  I tell you this because she is a person I admire and root for 100%.  I met her doing a writing seminar in Seattle two years ago (have you seen her show on Broadway called SEMINAR?) and, funnily enough, we actually went to the same high school in Cincinnati.  And I think she is great and smart and since she’s the brains behind SMASH, we’re all in good hands.

So there you go.  That is my one degree of separation to SMASH.

The purpose of this post is not to review the show, but instead to talk about what is accurate in the show, and what is made for TV entertainment, because there is nothing more fun then watching your Facebook feed as it lights up with comments from people in the biz weighing in on whether the TV show is accurate.  So far, the FB feed seems to like it.  I’ll keep you posted as it rolls along.

But, look.  More than anything, I am praying SMASH is successful because it will be a flood of jobs for actors in New York.  Theresa says they are hoping it brings the kind of jobs to NEW YORK actors that LAW AND ORDER did before it ended.  Just in case that is too show-biz insidery, let me explain.  The TV show LAW AND ORDER (the original one with Jerry Orbach) filmed in New York, and employed many actors.  There aren’t a lot of shows that shoot in TV (most shoot in LA) and many actors thought  getting a job on LAW AND ORDER was a marker of success.  If you’ve ever read a Broadway Playbill, you could play a drinking game where you take a drink for every actor who lists LAW AND ORDER in their bio and get very drunk.  When LAW AND ORDER shut down production recently, actors lamented the loss of jobs (and crew and writers, and other show biz people).  Theresa and Marc and Scott (the guys writing the music, who also wrote the music for HAIRSPRAY among other shows), are thrilled to be the “new LAW AND ORDER” in New York.  Here’s to a long, long run and many jobs. My friend Ann Harada said it best in her status

Ann Harada seeks dental coverage.

Ann Harada is going for dental coverage.

update this morning:  “I urge all my facebook friends to watch SMASH (NBC Monday 10pm ET). Not only is it a terrific show, with charming and talented performers, written and directed by the top names in theatre, on a network that really needs a break, but if it’s a hit, I will be able to treat my family to health insurance. Maybe even dental.”

Ann was the original Christmas Eve in AVENUE Q, and in SMASH (as she said): “I play the part of the stage manager, Linda, who comes on board once the musical goes into rehearsal for a workshop. I’ll be the character whose lines consist of  “That’s a ten” or “Lunch”. I do get more to say and do as the season progresses, lets hope we last that long!”

So for Ann and Theresa, and all the actors and potential jobs, here’s hoping SMASH is a SMASH.  It’s 10:12pm, and I’m off to watch it.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a roundup.  If you haven’t watched the show yet, now would be a good time to head over to HULU or NBC.COM to watch it, and then re-join us.  For everyone else, hold tight.

(To read the next post in the SMASH series, go here)

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About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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2 Responses to Daily Dose (Why SMASH Matters)

  1. Rachel says:

    I watched it a few weeks ago when it was available for free download. I had no expectations, I just needed something to watch on the train. I LOVED it. I can’t wait for the next episode. I hope it succeeds on its own merit, but you shared an interesting perspective. My sister once lived in New York and worked in television production on many shows that are no longer in existence. She doesn’t need to worry about that any more since she has moved, but I can appreciate that desire…or rather, need, more than I ever would have thought. Good luck to Smash and your friend…..well done.

  2. Sara says:

    Sharon, I enjoyed your book so much and have been looking forward to carving out some time to read your blog. I'm AEA in Cincinnati (Theresa Rebeck's parents are terrific, though I've never met her! They enjoyed ETCs production of Mauritius and were very kind to tell us:) ) and this Smash blog is a very enlightening read for those of us who have a very different professional life here in the regions. Though I enjoy the writing and the music – as well as Megan Hilty – it took me quite a while to warm up to Smash. I stopped watching and then came back one week when I was ill. I'm glad I did. I became more invested in the people than I had been when it first began.
    Thank you also for airing your unshiny audition story. I was just there – good but not shiny. My pity party consisted of Game of Thrones and Chipotle. :)
    I'm so glad you are continuing to write. You have such a talent for it. Thanks, and as your reader says above -0 good luck to Smash and all of your friends involved. I'm tickled to see a few old friends pop up on it myself!! Law and Order for this era, indeed!!

    Best to you!

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