A musical stage adaptation of NBC’s Smash is in development for Broadway, with Steven Spielberg, Robert Greenblatt and Neil Meron on board as lead producers. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who wrote more than 20 songs for the 2012-13 TV series, will write the musical’s score, with a book co-written by Bob Martin (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher).
Though no production dates were announced, development on the musical inspired by the series is under way, producers said today, offering a bit of hope to a Broadway industry shut down by the coronavirus at least through Labor Day, and likely longer.
Also returning for the Smash project is the series’ Emmy Award-winning choreographer Joshua Bergasse (Broadway’s On The Town, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
“I am personally thrilled to be a part of this musical and its road to Broadway,” said Spielberg in a statement. “Smash is near and dear to my heart, and it seems fitting that a new musical inspired by what we did on the show would eventually come to the stage.”
Spielberg, whose original idea led to the series, continued, “I’m beyond thrilled to be working with this incredible creative team and my producing partners, who began the Smash journey with me over ten years ago.”
Said Meron, “Speaking for myself and Bob Greenblatt, our partner when he was running NBC, we’re thrilled Steven wanted to embark on this musical with us. We’ve all felt that Shaiman and Wittman’s incredible score for Smash belonged on Broadway. Collaborating with first-class bookwriters Rick Elice and Bob Martin, and the world’s best choreographer Josh Bergasse, will be the icing on the cake.”
Though the series – which chronicled the development of fictional Broadway musical called Bombshell about Marilyn Monroe – lasted only two seasons on NBC, the show has taken on a cult-favorite afterlife, with a 2015 one-night-only Broadway concert version of Bombshell songs selling out within 15 minutes of going on sale. A never-aired film of that concert, featuring performers from the TV cast, was streamed as an Actors Fund benefit this week.
The series, created by playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck, starred Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katharine McPhee, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Anjelica Huston, Leslie Odom Jr., Jeremy Jordan, Krysta Rodriguez, Andy Mientus, Raza Jaffrey, Brian d’Arcy James and Jaime Cepero.
At least one of the Shaiman/Wittman Smash songs – “Let Me Be Your Star” – is confirmed to return for the musical, and the general storyline will follow the making-of-Bombshell plot, with the writer characters of Julia (Messing in the series) and Tom (Borle originally) also back. The Broadway actress characters Ivy (Hilty) and Karen (McPhee) will be “central” to the stage version, producers say, but all other plot details are “being kept under wraps.”
The musical will reunite Meron with his Hairspray film (and TV special) co-horts Shaiman and Wittman. Meron and Greenblatt are also currently working with the songwriters on a musical adaptation of Some Like It Hot for a planned Broadway debut in the fall of 2021.
Shaiman and Wittman wrote the score for Broadway’s 2011 Catch Me If You Can, with a book by Terrence McNally based on Spielberg’s 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Other Shaiman/Wittman credits include the Oscar-nominated Mary Poppins Returns, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me.
Book writer Elice co-wrote Jersey Boys, The Addams Family, The Cher Show and Peter and the Starcatcher, and his Smash co-writer Martin wrote and starred in The Drowsy Chaperone, co-wrote the book to the musical The Prom and co-created the television series Slings and Arrows. Martin and Elice also are currently adapting The Princess Bride as a stage musical.
Rebeck was the creator and executive producer of the Smash series, along with executive producers Spielberg, Meron and the late Craig Zadan, Shaiman and Wittman, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, and Joshua Safran. The series, which debuted February 6, 2012, and ended May 26, 2013, was produced by Universal Television in association with Dreamworks Television and Storyline Productions.
By Greg Evans