Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meat Pie (Ingredients unknown)

Me?  I'm a song and dance man from way back.  I remember seeing Jerry Orbach (of Law and Order fame) playing the lead in one of the revivals of 42nd Street .  I'm that old.  And Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd -- which I still can't get out of my head.

Sweeney!   Sweeney Todd!

Let me also add that I saw Bernadette Peters in Into The Woods because: a) her current turn in Mozart in the Jungle -- the Amazon Prime streamer about big time symphony orchestras -- is just one of many good things in the show, and b) it's a nice segue from the stage to the television.

I am sad to see Glee finish up its run.  I watched a couple of episodes early on but stepped away, knowing that my daughter would keep me fully informed.  And then, every once in a while if she absolutely insisted, I'd watch another episode so we could discuss it.  So I've probably seen between five and ten Glee episodes total.  Which was more than enough for me, but I thought it was a great idea for a television show.  I say this even though I could never once wrap my head around Lea Michele and her relentlessly needy I-want-to-be-Barbra schtick.

All of which brings us to Smash, that ill-fated experiment from NBC about a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe and the two women who want to play her ...


I thought Smash could have been amazing, and I actually watched all of the first year (hoping for the best and being constantly disappointed) and some of the truly horrible second year before I finally stopped.  A man, after all, has his limits.  The second year was so horrible, in fact, that unlike Glee (which, I'm told, had more than its share of ups and downs), I wasn't sorry to see Smash go.

And although there were numerous reasons why it failed, not the least of which being the ridiculous plot, I ascribe most of the blame to the dramatic stylings of Debra Messing.  In the annals of terrible acting in significant television shows, I always thought Philip Michael Thomas playing Rico Tubbs set the bar for the absolute worst (this theory is supported by the fact that since Miami Vice ended its run in 1990, we've heard almost nothing from Mr. Thomas).  But after watching Ms. Messing in Smash, I'm handing the baton to her.  Which is odd, given that she was relatively charming in Will and Grace.

And lest you think I'm making shit up, consider this from no less than The New Yorker ...
... since its delightful pilot, the show has taken a nosedive so deep I’m surprised my ears haven’t popped. All the caveats I noted but dismissed in my earlier review have become the definingly awful features of “Smash.” These include but are not limited to every domestic event involving Debra Messing’s character, Julia, from her attempts to adopt a Chinese baby to her decision to cuckold a dull man with a creepy one, to her alarming array of earth-toned scarves.
The good news?  They are actually going to make a Broadway play out of Smash.  I think it's just a one-night kind of thing, but honestly, how meta is that?  Meta enough, I suppose, for it to set the record for most money ever raised on Kickstarter for a theatrical production.  Vulture, the oddly named website for New York Magazine, has a nice article here.

The bad news?  Ms. Messing will reprise her role.  But I'd still go if I was, say, walking by the theatre on a warm summer night at quarter of eight and somebody offered me a half-price ticket in a nice location.  Perhaps five rows back, on an aisle.

I'll close with a U-Tube clip which could be, barring Marianne Faithful singing As Tears Go By, the best thing ever in the history of U-Tube ...

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