‘Don’t Forget Me’: Five reasons why ‘Smash’ will be remembered by musical theatre fans

The cast of 'Smash.'

The cast of ‘Smash.’

The curtain is going down on NBC’s Smash. After two years Smash has struggled to find a focus and an audience and the series was officially announced as canceled on Friday.

Due to a low number of viewers, NBC decided to move the drama to Saturdays mid-season on March 13. Showrunner Josh Safran said on April 24 that the season finale could function as a series finale if the network decided to drop the series. The final two episodes of Smash will air on Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 26 at 9 p.m.

Even with all of the ups and downs, including numerous time changes and low ratings, the series will remain well-loved by theatre fans for being a first-of-its-kind drama that focused on a musical from conception to its Broadway opening and beyond.

Here are five ways Smash helped share the magic of Broadway with the world.

Megan Hilty as Ivy and Katharine McPhee as Karen in "The Tonys", the series finale of "Smash."

Megan Hilty as Ivy and Katharine McPhee as Karen in “The Tonys”, the series finale of “Smash.”

1. It defied the conventional views of Broadway. When most people think of Broadway, they think of mega-hits like Les Miserables or Wicked. Through Smash’s portrayal of the fictional musical Bombshell, viewers saw a different and less successful side of Broadway. They saw Eileen’s all-too-real struggle to find producers to finance Bombshell. They saw Ivy fight to overcome her status as a chorus girl and become a star. Then, even after Bombshell opened on the Great White Way, audiences saw the team’s desire for Tony nominations despite mediocre reviews. It’s harder now than ever before to make it big in the world of Broadway and Smash showed the reality of theatre.

2. It brought New York City to viewers around the world. The Public Theater. 54 Below. Joe’s Pub. The Times Square TKTS booth. The St. James Theatre. The Lincoln Center. Throughout its two seasons, Smash has referenced these staples of New York’s theatre scene. Set against the backdrop of NYC, Smash has brought viewers into Times Square, Brooklyn and Hell’s Kitchen. They’ve been to a Broadway bowling night with Bombshell’s ensemble and danced in Times Square with Karen and Ivy. Even if viewers had never been to the city, they were immersed in the world of New York City each week thanks to Smash.

3. It exposed audiences to the music of a more modern Broadway.  In the past decade, a new wave of composers have taken over Broadway. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (of Hairspray fame) composed all of the original music for Smash’s musical, Bombshell, exposing viewers to the classic flashy and jazzy side of Broadway. Then, with the addition of season two’s Hit List, viewers heard a newer, rock-infused side of Broadway. Tony nominated composing duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, along with composers Drew Gasparini and Joe Iconis provided the young and edgy music of Hit List. These composers are the future of Broadway and Smash provided a large platform for them to share their music.

4. It put Broadway’s stars on our television screens each week. Broadway veterans Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus, and Krysta Rodriguez all starred on Smash. Broadway royalty like Bernadette Peters and Liza Minnelli guest starred on several episodes. Not to mention the ensemble and behind-the-scenes members of Bombshell and Hit List, including Wesley Taylor, Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Harada and Phillip Spaeth, are Broadway veterans too. With the exception of big-screen stars like Jack Davenport and Anjelica Huston, almost every cast member of Smash has a history with the theatre. They gave viewers an honest portrayal of the reality of show business, having travelled the road to Broadway with their own shows before. Through Smash, viewers got to see Megan Hilty’s star power in songs like “They Just Keep Moving the Line” and Christian Borle’s quality comedic acting in tunes like “Public Relations.” The wonderful work of Broadway’s stars would have never been exposed to a wider audience if not for a show like Smash.

5. It exposed a new generation of rising performers and theatregoers to the Broadway scene. Each week, Smash broadcasted the true face of Broadway to aspiring actors and actresses. The struggle for success is real, as viewers learned through watching Ivy and Karen. Broadway has become increasingly less attainable for those who wish to work on it. But, even through the perils and pitfalls, Smash reminds us that there really is no business like show business. The auditions, the long rehearsals, the out-of-town try-outs – it’s all worth it, the minute the curtain rises on opening night. Was Smash unrealistic in its portrayal of working on Broadway and everything it entails? Sometimes, yes. But if the next Jeremy Jordan or Megan Hilty finds their passion for theatre because of Smash then it was well worth the money and effort NBC put into the show.

Even with the occasional absurdness, Smash was a true gem that will stay with its fans for many years to come.

What will you miss most about Smash? Should NBC have given the show another chance? Let me know in comments!

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3 Responses

  1. The bad reviews on SMASH especially its 2nd Season were mostly true, yet still I love SMASH because it truly is a gem on TV. It showcased a lot of really amazing original compositions and talented actors and singers. To conceptualize both a drama and an original broadway musical in just one show is a feat. I will miss being blown away every week!

  2. i’m gonna miss Karen (Katharine McPhee) on my tv each week! She was fantastic in Bombshell & Hit List! Her singing and dancing were amazing! And speaking of that you need to give credit to Josh Bergasse (sp) the choregrapher!

  3. I will miss everything that you wrote about . I live 40 mins from Broadway and have only been to a handful if shows as the tics are so much Smash made me feel so good to be able to enjoy the singing dancing and talented actors ! NBC just doesn’t get how there is a need for a brilliant show like Smash . I refuse to watch mindless sitcoms, Reality shows , violent dramas with serial killers and cults. Smash was a welcome bright ray of hope.