THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two Premiere, Or, Change Partners and Dance

By Kenneth Jones
06 Feb 2013

Katharine McPhee and Jeremy Jordan
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

KYLE AND JIMMY AND KAREN: In a bold new direction for the series, two twentysomething musical-theatre writers — composer-lyricist Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan, minus sideburns because he was concurrently playing a teenager in Broadway's Newsies during early-season shooting) and librettist Kyle (Andy Mientus), friends since childhood — cross the path of Karen at the Restaurant Row boite (the fictional Table 46) where they work. The gay, adorable Kyle is starstruck (he saw Karen in Bombshell in Boston) and the straight, adorable — but brooding — Jimmy is aloof and pugnaciously flirty with her. Karen's imagination is piqued when she overhears Jimmy performing an ascendant, yearning, pained and inspiring song, "Broadway, Here I Come," in the back room of Table 46. The song is by rising theatre songwriter Joe Iconis, whose musical The Black Suits, is among his projects in development. Iconis wrote "Broadway, Here I Come" as a stand-alone song (not uncommon for the writer) before his association with "Smash." In an ironic twist, it was sung for the first time in one of Iconis' many cabaret-concert shows by future "Smash" regular Krysta Rodriguez. Here she is on youtube. It has also been sung by Molly Hager. "I wrote it when I was feeling fairly depressed, confused, but still totally hopeful about the theatre," Iconis told Playbill.com. "It's very much a song about all kinds of suicide and I think it's kind of wild that it's ended up on a very sparkly T.V. show in a context that really plays down the whole suicide aspect of the song." The song is expected to recur often in the coming season. (Also listen for Iconis' "The Goodbye Song," another one of his tunes that existed before "Smash.") Here's Iconis in a nutshell: with one foot in pop and one in narrative theatre, his work has the swaggering pianistic quality of a Ben Folds, with unexpected, detailed, soulful lyric turns and completely infectious melodies. For him, the piano is as much a percussive instrument as a melodic one. More than anyone whose work I've heard in a decade, he feels like the future of American musicals, a natural offspring from the age of Jonathan Larson, Jason Robert Brown and William Finn. Follow him on Twitter @MrJoeIconis.

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