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- Theatre review: Murder Ballad @ Arts Theatre, London West End - 27 October, 2016
After the original feel and success of the first series, I was excited to hear that Smash was returning for a second season. However, according to American viewing figures, it is highly unlikely that the curtain will rise on a third season for this theatrical themed show. As Smash slowly becomes available on this side of the pond, I decided to take a look at one of my favourite shows of 2012 and why the 2013 season received so much flack.
The first episode follows on from the end of season one, the only difference being that we are now at the end of the run of Bombshell!, the Marilyn Monroe themed musical in an Off-Broadway theatre. The aftermath of the affair between Ivy and Dev, Karen’s former partner, still rings true in this opening episode. The rivalry between the two girls has turned more one sided however, and Ivy spends most of her time feeling regretful, particularly when she realises that her future within the realm of musical theatre is determined by Karen herself. To be honest, the creators were wise to decide that by the end of the episode, this would be somewhat resolved as it did run the risk of running on a little too long.
Making a guest star appearance in this season two opener is Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore, a current Broadway star. Although Katherine McPhee has a powerful voice, demonstrated by the opening number of the show in the form of the closing number of Bombshell!, Hudson demonstrates what real musical theatre power can sound like. She is incredible.
The strength that Smash as a concept and series had over similar shows such as Glee was its unique placing of the music and songs in realistic settings within rehearsal rooms, stage performances, or even soirées for investors and theatre goers. This is what kept this show different to its predecessor shows like Glee where their characters burst into song at times of heightened emotion – much like a musical.
However, although it did occur once or twice in the first series, there are now a few moments where Smash chooses to take on such traits, forsaking the realistic setting. This is what kept the show interesting! It was an insight into the creation of a musical (warts and all) but presented in an entertaining fashion. I, for one, always enjoy watching Smash, but I have heard non-theatrical types praise the show also.
Another refreshing factor in the new series, and something that the first definitely lacked, is the presence of a strong male singer. Although the first series had the love interest of writer, Julia Houston, in the form of Michael Swift singing a few songs with Marilyn, it was more of a drama role than a musical role. Introduced in this first episode of the new season is the youthful, deviant-esque, barman Jimmy Collins (played by Jeremy Jordan.) His debut song for the show is ‘Broadway Here I Come’ which is fast climbing its way up my most played songs list on my iPod.
After watching this debut episode from Season Two I found it really hard to believe that this show had to be cancelled. The show’s creators blamed it on the moving of the show from their usual slot to a Saturday night slot and it saw their figures drop from almost five million down to below 2.5 million over the series and even a low of 1.8 Million for one particular episode.
It’s a real shame that this series will not be returning for a third series, however, you can still catch the second season in the UK over the next few months. The figures might not class it as a smash hit, but Smash is not a show to be missed.