The big day is finally here and we get to see the cast perform The Workshop in front of a team of investors, the result of which could mean the end of their dreams before they start. It was good to see the the highlights of the actual musical as well, especially with Megan Hilty’s treatment of the part of Marilyn. However, the course of the series has never run smoothly and as usual a few gaffes turn up, which made us wonder if Derek was right this week in that some productions ‘are cursed’.
We were given a rare treat this week with Bernadette Peters entering the fray portraying Ivy’s mother – a famous Broadway performer. Within moments of her arrival she has taken the spotlight, upstaging her daughter by performing a throaty rendition of ‘Everything’s Coming up Roses’. Its not hard to see where Ivy has developed some of her issues with being the star of the show, and her facial expressions make it clear just how sad she is. Experiencing the relationship up close we were shocked by Ivy’s patience with her passive aggressive mother, and once again the pressure begins to build. Karen meanwhile took a back seat to proceedings. Even in the face of her own potential success, she lets the spotlight fall on Ivy allowing us to see the show all the more clearly.
As Will and Julia’s affair escalates we find the young lovers holding hands and stealing kisses behind closed doors during rehearsals. From the earlier burning passion, the sweet portrayal seems a shade too saccharine forcing us to feel that this affair does not feel as authentic as we would hope. Thankfully the stakes became raised once Julia’s son, Leo, announced that he knows about the affair, and raises the questions about how things would develop and if her husband would find out. Ellis meanwhile goes to Elaine to reveal the affair, but was shocked by Elaine’s quiet and considerate inaction while being threatened with dismissal if he says one word. This came to a head when Julia makes a decision which could wreak havoc with the show’s uncertain future.
The Workshop itself was a brilliant opportunity for the showrunners to give us more than just a few tidbits like they have done so far. They did reflect on some of the song and dance numbers we have seen in previous weeks, but still had a few little treats to show the audience that this musical has a genuine quality. It was also relishing to see a few little problems creep up, such as the odd trip and spill here or there, bringing about a return to the more organic quality of earlier episodes by scaling back the polish.
After the investors saw the show and gave some slightly more ascerbic comments than we were expecting, we wondered exactly what performance they saw – a strange discrepancy in these kind of series where the performers seem to give a terrific performance, but for some reason no one liked it. There was the odd problem, but nothing that warranted the drastic action which Eileen is now beginning to contemplate to make sure the show really is a ‘Smash’.
While preparing to hit the halfway mark, we were pleased that the series has finally picked up some speed as new spanners are flying into the works. It helped to give everyone a more unified goal, while still putting enough drama into the relationships to keep things intersting. While this episode has not quite hit perfection, it was pretty close, and we can only hope they hit their stride before the end.