Smash, the NBC television drama that has been a frequent topic of discussion (and sometimes derision) among Broadway fans, will not return to the small screen next season. The final episode of the series will air on May 26.
Starring American Idol alum Katharine McPhee as a young performer pursuing her Broadway dream, Smash spent two seasons charting the creation and development of a Broadway-bound musical about Marilyn Monroe called Bombshell. The sometimes soapy, sometimes comic drama offered a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Broadway, spotlighting songwriters, directors, producers, and more.
Created and produced by playwright Theresa Rebeck (Dead Accounts), Rebeck was replaced with showrunner Joshua Safran (Gossip Girl) in the show’s second season, but ratings continued to fall. During its run, the cast of Smash boasted many Broadway regulars, including Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher), Jeremy Jordan (Newsies), and Megan Hilty (Wicked). Other series regulars included Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, and Debra Messing.
Theater legend Liza Minnelli (daughter of yet another theater legend, Judy Garland) is scheduled to play herself in an episode of NBC’s soapy Broadway-themed television drama Smash, which returns to TV for its second season this coming February.
It is anticipated that the Tony Award-winning Ms. Minnelli (Cabaret, The Act, Flora, the Red Menace) will be singing a new song by Smash‘s resident songwriters, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). She will have a duet with fellow Tony-winner, actor Christian Borle (recently of Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher), who co-stars on Smash as Broadway composer Tom Levitt.
The name of the Smash episode that Liza Minnelli will appear in is called “The Surprise Party”. Of her guest appearance, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said, “Liza Minnelli is the essence of a multi-talented, singular show business sensation, particularly for her extraordinary contributions to Broadway. So what could be more fitting than to have her legendary talent on a show that celebrates a world Liza has dazzled for decades?”
It will be a Will & Grace reunion on NBC’s primetime Broadway soap Smash this coming season when Sean Hayes (who played Will & Grace‘s flamboyant scene-stealer Jack McFarland on the successful sitcom) joins the much-buzzed-about television show featuring Debra Messing (Grace herself) for a multi-episode arc.
Hayes, who recently impressed Broadway in the revival of Promises, Promises as office drone Chuck Baxter, will play a character not unlike himself, a comic television star who is making his Broadway debut. Though unlike Hayes, who wisely chose a musical comedy to show off his Broadway chops, his Smash counterpart will be starring in a musical version of the seductive drama Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
It has been reported that Sean Hayes’ character, named Terrence Falls, will cause difficulty’s for Smash‘s talented-but-overshadowed Broadway trouper Ivy (Megan Hilty). But it’s not yet known how much screen time he will share with his old TV castmate Debra Messing, who plays Broadway show scribe Julia.
Fresh off her high-profile divorce from Tom Cruise and now living in Manhattan with daughter Suri, Katie Holmes is getting right to work, coming back to Broadway in the upcoming new play Dead Accounts. Holmes will be playing a woman who is living with her parents while trying to get her life back on track.
Katie Holmes made her Broadway debut back in 2008, when she co-starred in a revival of the Arthur Miller play All My Sons, which also starred John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, and Patrick Wilson. Though she created more of a sensation at the stage door than onstage, Holmes did prove she could handle the rigors of performing in a Broadway show.
For her return to Broadway, Holmes has taken a different tack, choosing a brand new play by one of modern theater’s more prolific playwrights, Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Mauritius, TV’s Smash). Rebeck specializes in intelligent, thoughtful comedies, so the play could provide a good opportunity for Holmes to distinguish herself in an interesting new part. Directed by Jack O’Brien, Dead Accounts will open at the Music Box Theater this fall.
From the beginning, Smash, the NBC TV show about the creation of a Broadway musical, has employed many real-life Broadway stars. Christian Borle (a recent Tony Award winner for his role in Peter and the Starcatcher), Brian d’Arcy James (the man behind the big green costume in Broadway’s Shrek), Will Chase (Rent, Billy Elliot), and Meg Hilty (Wicked) are among the Broadway regulars that have populated the world of Smash, giving it a special air of authenticity for musical theater fans. The recent news that d’Arcy James and Chase won’t be series regular next year, though, made it seem that the show might be chipping away at the genuine Broadway babies.
Theater fans can relax — for now — though, since it appears that Smash is continuing its policy of hiring actual musical theater performers. One of the most recent cast additions in Jeremy Jordan, the break-out star of the 2011-2012 season for his roles in Bonnie & Clyde and Newsies. On Smash, Jordan is set to play a Brooklyn-born singer (perhaps borrowing some of the tough-guy, New York attitude that he is currently showing Broadway audiences in Newsies?).
And now there is news that Jennifer Hudson will be joining Smash. The former American Idol contestant wowed musical theater lovers in 2006 when she played Effie White in the film version of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls. Although Hudson has not actually starred in a Broadway production (her appearances on the Great White Way have been limited to a couple special benefit concerts), she will be playing a Broadway star named Veronica Moore in a multi-episode arc.
With any luck, Smash will be employing even more Broadway and musical theater talents in the future. Given that the TV show films in New York City, it creates the possibility for working Broadway performers to do both theater and television. Of course the extent to which they can do both may depend on how demanding their roles are and what the show’s shooting schedule is like. Jeremy Jordan, for instance, plans to continue playing his part in Newsies while also filming Smash. But Christian Borle, who has a starring role on Smash as a composer, will soon be departing Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher to begin filming.