Happy Tuesday and welcome to the ninth episode of SMASH Fact or fiction? Welcome to all you new readers, please take a moment to read the game rules before activating your buzzers. Thanks to New York Magazine for naming this blog as “highbrow” and “brilliant” in their approval matrix this week. I’m thrilled to achieve such a high honor with my pooping rhino video link still intact. http://nymag.com/arts/all/approvalmatrix/approval-matrix-2012-4-9/
Welcome back to America’s favorite TV trivia game show. If you’ve missed the previous posts, check out Why Smash Matters and our first eight game shows, for the pilot episode episode two episode three episode four, episode five, episode six, episode seven, and episode eight. If you are new to My Own Space the blog, my name is Sharon and I’ve been in pretty many Broadway shows. I am also friends with Theresa Rebeck, the creator, writer, and all around guru of the show–so I am here to remind you that I am in total support of the fact that the show is, in fact, a TV show–a fictional drama–not a documentary. Right? Right. Good. Please initialize your understanding of this fact here: ______. We are not out to do anything except use the show as a launching point for fun conversation about the theater world. Based on the success of A Chorus Line and other backstage shows, we here at My Own Space assume there is a basic appreciation and curiosity of what happens behind the scenes on Broadway. Or else, one might rightly ask, what in the world are you doing reading this blog. Right? Right. If you can’t sing at least part of the song “Tomorrow”, you’re in the wrong place and should maybe try this instead.
Truth be told, you don’t really even need to watch the show to play along, but you might be confused at points and you will not win the grand prize which is hidden behind door number five and may or may not be a pair of angel wings and a halo suitable for outdoor wear.
Here we go. Lights up…cue theme music….
I will make a series of statements based on events in this weeks episode, and then give my opinion on whether the statements are “fact” or “fiction”. You play along. Get your buzzers ready.
1) Broadway actors would never look as “over it” onstage as Ivy does in Heaven on Earth. Fact or fiction?
Fiction. Commonly referred to as “phoning it in”, this is more prevalent than we would want to admit. Yes. People roll their eyes, talk about where to go for dinner, goof off and generally hide in the back and just try to make it through a show. This is not always true, so don’t yell at me. But yes, it happens. I was watching Ivy and thinking that I know a dozen people who have done that, including me on a bad day.
Where is the line? If you come to work drunk or high and it is detected, you’re fired. End of story. Okay, maybe if you are really well loved they might let you go to rehab, but overall, shows are dangerous and that kind of behavior is not tolerated.
2) Producers sit and around and make lists of the stars who could be in their show, no matter how far fetched it might be. Fact or fiction?
Fact. I can’t go into a lot of detail here or I could get in trouble, but recently I heard a list of names for a show that wasn’t even on Broadway, and the list included Oscar winning actors. This had to be considered a viable list until all the agents had returned with a “no”, and only then could the casting director move on to more attainable names.
Are recognizable names critical to the success of a show? Everyone has an opinion about that, but I will tell you that if you look around at the landscape of Broadway in these economic times, everyone seems to be banking on a star. Or several stars. And then they replace a big star with another big star–no “B” list actors to be seen (Example: Theresa Rebeck’s play, Seminar just brought in Jeff Goldblum to replace the departing Alan Rickman.)
3) If you have a pair of sunglasses that belong to an actor in a Broadway show, it is a-ok to walk through the stage door, find your way backstage and then stand in the wings and watch the show. Fact or fiction.
Um. Fiction. Have you ever tried to get past a doorman at a Broadway theater? Good luck with that. If the doorman doesn’t throw you out, trust me that the on deck stage manager will have you thrown out within seconds. Okay, now just because it is fun to contradict myself, I have to tell you that several times during the run of Cats, people (and by “people” I mean men) managed to slip past the doorman through a side door and then run up to the dressing rooms. They were always after the same cat, the Siamese cat, Cassandra, who is usually played by a Rockette (or a Rockette look alike) and she slinks around the stage all night driving guys wild. So I guess if you have Cassandra’s sunglasses, you might be able to get in.
4) If you’re having a bad day, sometimes you can just leave the show and go home in your costume. Fact or fiction?
Fiction. As my friend said in her status update while watching the show: “and every wardrobe supervisor in the city just screamed in horror.”
Let’s go back to the lines of defense that wouldn’t let a stranger INTO the theater. Strike that and reverse it: they also won’t let the costumes get OUT. Here’s how serious that is. After Cats closed we were given our costumes as a gift. A very generous (and unprecedented) gift. NOT the norm to get your costumes when you leave a show. Anyhoo, I was playing Jennyanydots, the tap cat, and I left the theater with my costume, including a giant overcoat and tap boots. I will not lie to you–I absolutely had thoughts about “Ebay” and “My child’s college tuition” because these costumes were so valuable. I was GIVEN the costume, so I took it out in a bag (we all did) along with my wig and my basic costume, etc. I was not even in the door in my apartment (which was 10 blocks away) when I had a call DEMANDING I return the overcoat immediately. I jumped in a cab, delivered the coat, apologized profusely for the misunderstanding, and watched as they sold it the next day in an auction for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids (a great organization) for thousands of dollars.
Alas. My daughter will have to get a scholarship to college.
The point is, if you leave a theater in a costume, you’d better be on a stretcher.
P.S. I can’t even start about the sing off– in costume and drunk–in Times Square, although it did remind me of a time when a bunch of people got nailed for walking around drunk in Memphis in their show jackets. The producer thought it was a classless misrepresentation of the show. And that was just show jackets–not a whole costume.
But it’s a TV show and they have to squeeze in a musical number, so there you go.
Two quick fun facts: That interior shot of the casting office where Ivy and Karen mixed up their sunglasses while auditioning for the commercial was the actual casting office of Bernie Telsey casting, the casting office of SMASH and numerous Broadway shows, TV shows, movies and commercials. If you are an actor in New York, you’ve probably spent a lot of time there being nervous.
This episode had two industry people playing themselves; the excellent director Doug Hughes, and the “weasel” Michael Riedel, infamous columnist for the New York Post. They will both cash hefty residual checks for playing themselves.
Thanks for playing!
(For the next post in the SMASH series, go here)