A Stage Adaptation of ‘Smash’ Is Setting Its Sights on Broadway
A long-discussed stage musical version of the television series “Smash” is finally coming to Broadway … but fans are going to have to wait a bit more.
The adaptation’s producers, who include Steven Spielberg, announced Wednesday that they expect to bring the show to Broadway during the 2024-25 theater season. They said the musical will be directed by Susan Stroman, a five-time Tony winner whose latest endeavor, “New York, New York,” starts previews on Friday.
The “Smash” musical will be based on the two-season series, broadcast on NBC in 2012 and 2013, about a group of New York City theater artists struggling to bring “Bombshell,” a musical about Marilyn Monroe, to the stage. The show, with plenty of soap-style backstage drama and exuberant production numbers, was dreamed up by Spielberg, developed by Robert Greenblatt and created by Theresa Rebeck, and, although its TV run was canceled because of declining ratings, it retains a passionate fan base.
“It’s crazy that we’re still talking ‘Smash,’ but not a week has gone by where somebody doesn’t tell me they miss the show, so it’s kind of great to be seeing it in another incarnation,” said Neil Meron, who was an executive producer of the TV series.
Meron and Greenblatt, who will produce the adaptation with Spielberg, said the stage version would be funnier than the television show, and that it would include some of the same characters, but also new ones, and would be set in the present day.
“It’s a backstage comedy about the putting on of a Marilyn Monroe musical,” Meron said, while Greenblatt’s summation was: “We’ve been calling it a comedy about a musical.”
The musical will feature a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, including songs they wrote for the television series as well as new ones; the team is best known for the Tony-winning score of “Hairspray” and is represented on Broadway this season by “Some Like It Hot.” The book will be written by Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys”) and Bob Martin (“The Drowsy Chaperone”). Joshua Bergasse, who choreographed the television series, will do the same for the stage show.
The producers oversaw a developmental reading of the script about a year ago, and said they expect more workshops before the move to Broadway. The long lead time was needed to accommodate the schedules of the creative team, they said; casting has not yet been determined.
“Every few years the show comes back into our lives, and now we’re excited to go on a new adventure with it,” Greenblatt said.
The creative team has always imagined there would be a path from the television show to the stage, but its form has changed over time. In 2013 there was a concert performance of songs from “Hit List,” the musical that was a subject of the second season, and in 2015 an effort to develop a Broadway adaptation of “Bombshell,” the musical that was the subject of the first season, was announced after a concert performance of songs from that show.
But then in 2020, the current producers announced that they would develop a loose adaptation of the series itself, rather than working with one of the musicals-within-the-television-show.
“What we didn’t want to do was just put the TV series onstage — we wanted our own spin on it,” Meron said. “We are very conscious of our fan base, and very conscious that there’s a new audience that’s never been exposed to ‘Smash’ before. So our take is more comedic and more of a love letter to Broadway.”
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