A show made for me. One that makes me want to follow my passions, be creative, love and live deeply. Draw. Create. Write. Sing. Dance. (OK, let’s not push it.) It is tough to find time to follow my passions. I am jealous. The characters are pursuing their dreams, while I am pursuing a paycheck. A recent scene showed one of the characters, Karen Cartwright, played by Katherine McPhee, bemoaning a $328 credit card bill. The other characters in the scene said they only wished they had a $300 credit card bill. There’s were in the $1000s. The characters are fearless and driven by passion in their personal and professional lives. They each embody the ‘X Factor.’ It is who they are day in and day out, take it or leave it. It all takes guts. For the viewer, it is a release from the day-to-day grind of daily, professional life. It is a world where you can have your cake and eat it too! I wish someday to be able to feel that professional freedom in one way or another. For now, I am just going to sit back and enjoy the show.
Not only does SMASH stir up my creative spirit, but it also reminds me of happy memories from my childhood. I need to be reminded of them, because they are so easily forgotten in my rather pessimistic mind. From the late 1980 to around the early 2000s I was a regular attendee of Broadway musicals and plays. Most of these have been seen in Boston, a city where they send the shows or initial national/world tours to test. I remember seeing Rent that way in 1996. It was the first time the show left New York City before numerous touring casts would bring it all over the country and into other parts of the world. Boston has been the place to test for many years. I saw Jason Biggs and Kathleen Turner in The Graduate before it began its run on Broadway. Everyone was shocked by Kathleen Turner’s willingness to take her clothes off, even in the early part of the twenty-first century.
Even before Rent and The Graduate revival, my whole family would attend shows regularly thanks to a BostonArts booklet we got in the mail every month. We received the booklet and would go through it to see if there was anything we all wanted to see. Everything from classic revivals like Guys and Dolls to newer shows that were just released to the Boston area after a lengthy run on Broadway, my family was able to catch. My brother, a strapping 6’4” Red Sox loving, financial analyst surprises people with the list of musicals and plays that he has seen. Evita (4 times…it is my mother’s favorite), Jelly’s Last Jam, Phantom of the Opera (twice), Oklahoma, The Who’s Tommy, Grease, Beauty and the Beast and many, many more. We would take trips to New York City and see plays there, too.
I always felt so special when in the audience of a theater, especially in New York City. Everyone is tightly packed into these beautiful, ornate theaters where the ceilings are painted, the stage is covered by a beautiful, velvety curtain. Sometimes, if sitting close enough, you feel as if you are in the show yourself. The performers’ passion transcends the boundary between the edge of the stage and you. As an audience member, you cannot believe how beautiful a voice can sound or how elegantly one could dance. That moment cannot ever be replicated again, even if the show runs every night till the end of the month. That moment in time is made unique by your presence and the collective experience you share with your fellow audience members in that beautiful room. Each party, the performer and the audience, is focused on that one moment where creativity and passion meet to make magic. Smash is magic. Magic that comes through my television screen and into my living room each week.