THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two, Episode 7, Or, Rewrite This Story

By Kenneth Jones
21 Mar 2013

Jeremy Jordan
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

It's a sure bet that the "Hit List" boys (including naive librettist Kyle, played by Andy Mientus) are gonna figure out their theme, drawing on their experiences of the week, by the end of this episode. And they do! Hit List is about "transformation," they conclude. That new number says it all! The eager artistic director — who has been given permission to book one slot without board oversight — commits Hit List to MTW's mainstage.

MTW, as reported here before, is patterned on New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), the East Village company where Rent began; Rent's casting director Telsey + Company casts "Smash," too. When Jimmy and Derek and Kyle are seen leaving MTW, they're walking through the doors of NYTW, on East Fourth Street, across the street from the fabled, risk-friendly La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Although MTW is a stand-in for NYTW here, the programming at NYTW, in real-life, is hardly dictated by lace-doily, Pick-a-Little-Talk-a-Little ladies resistant to edgy work and worried about the bottom line. This is the acclaimed downtown not-for-profit where Judge Brack famously quaffed a glass of tomato juice and spat it into the mouth of Hedda Gabler, who swallowed it down, in a rethinking of Henrik Ibsen's classic; where A Streetcar Named Desire was set in a bathtub, in a rethinking of that Tennessee Williams classic; and where a recent play about Armenian genocide included a long and grueling monologue about a mother forced to eat the cooked flesh of her own children. It's hard to believe a board of any East Village theatre would take issue with a rock musical shepherded by Derek.

(If the "Underground" name sounds familiar, it's because you may have heard that Roundabout Theatre Company operates a 60-seat subterranean venue devoted to new writers; it's called Roundabout Underground and it's proving to be a potent testing ground for emerging dramatists and directors. One of its recent plays, Bad Jews, in fact, will graduate to Roundabout's mainstage Off-Broadway home, the Laura Pels Theatre this fall.) 

Scott is going out on a limb with his mainstage booking at MTW, where he is the new artistic director. "If I fail," he tells Derek, "it's right back to regional theatre!" (You know, like the Tony Award-winning Arena Stage, the Tony-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Tony-winning Goodman Theatre, where great art gets made every single day.) In the episode, Scott bumps into Bombshell librettist-lyricist Julia (Debra Messing), and they seem to have a past. Future love interest? Martin is booked for seven episodes.