Smile The Musical

TrulyOutrageousJem
Chorus Member
joined:7/10/12
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 04:15pm
A theater in NYC is doing a limited engagement of Smile. Is anyone going to see this? I believe it opened last night. I'm going next week. I absolutely love this show and am really excited to get to see it.
SMILE
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 04:52pm
(delete)

EDIT: Sorry, I posted on the wrong thread.

"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
Updated On: 10/23/13 at 04:52 PM
TrulyOutrageousJem
Chorus Member
joined:7/10/12
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 05:04pm
What?? Umm, ok...
goldenboy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 09:03pm
Let me know how it is. That company is known for it's lackluster attempt to revive musicals. They murdered Fade Out Fade in last year.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 09:44pm
I didn't mean to "hit and run," but I posted in the wrong thread. I'm not seeing this new production, so I have nothing to add.

I did see the original show on Broadway, though, and I loved it! I was very disappointed that it didn't do better. Now I think the show would suffer because it's dated. It even felt slightly dated in the mid-'80s.

I look forward to hearing what you think.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
Updated On: 10/23/13 at 09:44 PM
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/23/13 at 10:43pm
Will they be producing the bizarre Broadway version, the much better acclaimed licensed version, or the "final version" that Hamlisch had helped to prepare a few years before his death?
TrulyOutrageousJem
Chorus Member
joined:7/10/12
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/24/13 at 01:27pm
best12bars, lol OK. I was very confused there for a second. I didn't see the original run of the show, unfortunately. I was only 3 at the time. But I have seen a dvd of the original Broadway run. And I've seen the show a couple of times regionally. I LOVE the music in the show. Just love it. I am really excited to see it again.

darquegk, I'm not sure which version it is. I would assume it'll be the licensed version. The Broadway version did have a couple missteps, but it wasn't all bad. I actually think theres a few things there that work really well that they removed for the licensed version. One of Bob's songs and Robin's original letters home to her Mom, for example. The new "Dear Mom"s are really stupid and pointless, I think. I'm interested to see which version they perform.
andi1235
Understudy
joined:3/15/07
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/24/13 at 03:25pm
I'm going on November 2, to the afternoon matinee. I can't wait to see people's reviews. I LOVE the music from this show (I have some recordings, including the Samuel French demo thingy), and I'm super excited to finally have a chance to see it!
sondhead
Broadway Star
joined:10/25/06
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 11:40am
Just some clarifications...

To my knowledge, there is no "final" version other than what is licensed, and this comes after extensive library research including the Howard Ashman Collection at the library of congress. The revised version (and the Broadway production, for that matter) already date to "a few years before his death," so I'm not sure where you got that information.

Also, it should be noted that the Broadway production is not the "original" version. Though what Samuel French licenses is called a revision, it is for the most part a return to Howard and Marvin's earlier drafts. Robin's postcards home, Very Best Week of Your Lives, Typical High School Senior (as it appears in the licensed version) all date back to before the material that replaced them for the Broadway production. It would appear that due to a lot of heat from Producers, Howard and Marvin were forced to compromise their vision of the show when it played Broadway. The Broadway production, while enjoyable, was stripped of a lot of its cynicism and was in many ways a more conventional light comedy about pageants. The licensed script restores many of the barbs and much more of the adult sub plot, which though not the the central thrust of the show, I think ultimately Howard was more interested in. I think one of the reasons there are so many specific 80's references in it is because Howard intended it to be an indictment on the Reagan administration and Republicans in general. The show explores what people are willing to do to win, and in the case of Big Bob and Brenda, there's a lot of delusion, hiding behind a moral high ground and intense nationalism that they use to either get ahead or convince themselves that they have. When I picture Howard writing this in 1985, a time in which organizations like Act Up were having to have demonstrations to even get the Reagan administration to admit that the AIDs epidemic was happening, it's hard for me to imagine that Howard didn't have this in mind when he wrote these characters.

Anyways, for the most part, the licensed version is much closer to Howard and Marvin's first draft than it is anything that came after it. He trimmed it a bit and further developed the songs until they were better, but the general structure of his first draft is essentially what he went back to when preparing the show for future productions. As far as I can tell, the only hold over from the post-workshop Pre-Broadway/Broadway productions is the end of Act 1, "Until Tomorrow Night." Every other "change" was made in retrograde.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 11:49am
There was talk, in fact on this very board, about a "new final" version of Smile, which Hamlisch was working on with a regional theatre. The idea was to use the licensed version as the jumping-off point but restore a few of the bits that DID work in the Broadway version and streamline away some of the more "topical" references that no longer play as well. I don't know if the show ever went up or not- as far as I can recall, this was very shortly before his death so it may not have come to fruition.
sondhead
Broadway Star
joined:10/25/06
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 11:55am
Oh you mean HAMLISCH's death. I was confused. That may very well be true.

I have to say, though, I think to take it out of the 80's would be to remove a lot of what Howard was trying to say with the piece. I've never understood the way people talk about period pieces, though, so I may just be of a different opinion here. I mean Company taking place in the 70's has never made it seem any less vital and affecting to me. Ditto Smile in the 80s... ditto Big River, for that matter, taking place in the 19th century.

I'm currently working on a production of Smile with college students, and I have to say we did not have to explain many of the references to them. They didn't know many of the political figures (Gerry Ferarro) but they certainly knew who Jane Fonda and Bruce Jenner were. My only quibble with the book, reference-wise, is that I wish it said Vanessa Williams by name instead of "that Miss America thing." By now there's been so many scandals that audiences wouldn't necessarily know which one they're talking about.
TrulyOutrageousJem
Chorus Member
joined:7/10/12
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 02:01pm
Sondhead, I'm actually 100% in agreement with you on the topic of "updating" the shows references. I did a production of Smile once and the director did update it and changed a few topical jokes. A few years later I did another production and we left it set in the 80s and the jokes worked just as well. I believe that the lines "If you count Vanessa..." etc we did change to "If you count Vanessa Williams..." just to jog people's memories but that's about it. There's really no need to update the show, in my opinion. It works just fine as it is. The world was a different place then and now. Now Little Bob would be taking pictures with his iphone and uploading them to facebook. There also would almost certainly not be only one ethnic girl in the pageant. And the political climate is very very different. You're right that Howard wrote the show very firmly thumbing his nose at the Republican party and the Reagan administration. At least, I think so anyway. I never knew the man and couldn't ask him personally. But he does write in the forward of the script that the show should glide along effortlessly but pack an unexpected punch. I'm paraphrasing there but you get my point. And I think the show does that. I once read a review of the show that called it confusing because the reviewer couldn't decide if the show was a funny satire or serious. And I can sort of see that. But I think it's a dark satire. You're laughing because it's so outrageous but it's also uncomfortable laughter because you've either been in these situations or know people that are.

That said, I do still think there are a couple musical moments, not necessarily scripted ones, that worked better on Broadway then in the revised version. Robin's postcards home, for example. I'll also say that in both productions I was involved in Shawn ended up winning the pageant. Yes, it's illegal to change the show but it really adds one final dark punch to the show. Sandra Kay winning is such a blah ending I think.

I also find that this show has the most outrageous quick changes I've ever seen. In multiple scenes the girls are on stage, blackout, and then they are on again in completely different outfits. The Ramp Scene into Young and American for example. Yikes.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 02:03pm
A lot of the references still work, but things like the Miss America scandal and Jane Fonda are complicated, not enlightened, by hindsight. Jane Fonda is mostly remembered for things other than exercise tapes today, and there have been so many pageant based scandals since that the reference is now ambiguous at best.
sondhead
Broadway Star
joined:10/25/06
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 04:57pm
Robin's Broadway letters home are a lovely melody, I'll grant you. I particularly like her opening of act 2 letter in which she admits to thinking about winning.

HOWEVER

I would never use them. In the first one, she says "Mom you were right. I should never have come." I think she is too well-adjusted to have a mom who would do anything but support her every endeavor. I think they would have talked about all that pageants entail and why in many ways they're not a good thing, but I don't think she would have told her not to go.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 05:10pm
Robin's postcards home were in the Broadway show when I saw it.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
sondhead
Broadway Star
joined:10/25/06
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 05:21pm
Right. But there are two different melodies to these postcards home; the original version and the Broadway revision. They are extremely different from eachother.
TrulyOutrageousJem
Chorus Member
joined:7/10/12
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/25/13 at 08:36pm
I LOVE her Opening Act 2 postcard in the Broadway show.

My main reason for hating the "new" ones is that they are about absolutely NOTHING and do nothing to enhance the story. She's singing about gardens! Why? Who cares? She's also complaining about not being able to go the gardens when, logistically, that doesn't make any sense. When would you have time to go? You're not on vacation, you're in a competition.

Robin's first "postcards" from Broadway during "Very Best Week of Your Lives" are some of my favorite. Some of the lines like "God, I bet when she was young she was gorgeous" not only add in humor to an otherwise bland song but also sound so perfectly "Howard" that I find it hard to understand why he removed them. And I don't think Robin's mother would have told her not to go to the pageant. But I do think that Robin was raised in a house that focused on loving support of each other and a strong emphasis on the importance of education. I don't believe her mother would tell her not to go but would strongly caution against it. In the beginning she says "Remember, I love you just the way you are." I think she's more cautious about what will happen to impressionable young girls, in particular, her daughter when she sends her to the pageant. Which, to a teenage girl, could sound like "don't go." Which would justify Robin saying in a moment of frustration and doubt "Mom, you were right. Mom, I shouldn't have come."
Ed_Mottershead
Broadway Legend
joined:10/20/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/26/13 at 01:51am
The only thing I recall with pleasure, which I saw while it was in previews, is that I got Helen Hayes's autograph after the show.
BroadwayEd
andi1235
Understudy
joined:3/15/07
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/28/13 at 11:49am
Regarding "updating" the show, I haven't had the opportunity to be involved in a production, but I would LOVE to see a version that really played up the '80s aesthetic, personally. I just have a vision of outrageous '80s pageant hair and clothes that I think would make this show extra fun. '80s fashion is too much fun to pass up, IMO. :)
Patash
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/08
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/28/13 at 12:22pm
Other than the above reference to this group's "lackluster" revival of musicals, is there anyone with a more positive reason to see this? Will it be fully staged with costumes and scenery or done more like a "reading"? I like the show, but won't bother unless I think it will be done at least reasonable well, although admittedly the price is right!
goldenboy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/28/13 at 05:27pm
I didn't see this show but I can report what I was told. Yes it's strictly heresay but wtf.. here goes. If I can't gossip on here.. where can i?

My friend said he was quite fond of the musical Smile and the score that was on Broadway some years back....but the show that was presented by this company was disappointing and it seemed like an awful musical because of it's presentation. He also said the cast needed to be miked and the cast was not,. He told me Barry Weissler was in the audience and Barry walked out of the show at intermission. He said the cast look like deers in headlights with script in their hand. So based on that review, I can't see what is redeemable about seeing this. Of course you and I are free to check it out if we want.

Again This theatre does no one favors by presenting this wonderful lost material badly.

Then he told me that this company was going to do Come Summer. I may have to go to that because I have never never seen Come Summer. That is the Ray Bolger-Margaret Hamilton Musical. I will go with very low expectations. Who knows.. maybe they will get one right. I can hope right?
LimelightMike
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/28/13 at 05:33pm
I, too, can't speak for having seen this incarnation -- but *can* speak from hearsay. The show, on paper, runs just shy of 2 hrs, 15 minutes: Breezy, brisk pace. When done properly. Apparently? Act I alone ran 90 minutes. Having not seen this production, I *did* direct it 2 seasons ago. And, loved the experience I had with that production. I didn't get as far as to hear about the actors holding their scripts. Sad.

LimelightMike's 2010-2011 Theatergoing Schedule: THE PITMEN PAINTERS (10.03.10) A LIFE IN THE THEATRE (10.10.10) BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON (10.16.10) THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (11.06.10) WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (11.13.10) BRIEF ENCOUNTER (11.22.10) THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW (11.28.10) LA BETE (12.23.10) A SMALL FIRE (01.13.11) THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (03.09.11) ARCADIA (03.16.11) BLACK TIE (03.19.11) PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT (03.21.11) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (03.26.11) BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO (03.30.11) GHETTO KLOWN (03.31.11) HOW TO SUCCEED... (04.07.11) ANYTHING GOES (04.12.11) JERUSALEM (04.20.11) SISTER ACT (04.29.11) iHO: (05.22.11)
Updated On: 10/28/13 at 05:33 PM
bk
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/03
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/29/13 at 06:57pm
If this is a staged reading, which it is, the actors are REQUIRED to hold their scripts. It's not "sad" it's an Equity rule. And if people haven't seen this incarnation then they should not be commenting on it. What I can comment on are the few staged readings I've seen this company do, which have all been absolutely dreadful and amateur. I sat with Ira Levin when they did his Drat! The Cat'! - I'd tried unsuccessfully to get Encores to do it and Reprise in LA to do it, and at one point the cast I used for the recording were all going to just get together and do a concert evening, but the timing never worked out - and poor Ira was so wanting it to be decent and fun and it so wasn't - it was musically inept, it was horribly cast, and the "staging" was, even for a staged reading, like a traffic accident. After that, I never needed to see anything this troupe did again, because they simply don't hire the right people to serve the material they're presenting. It does no one any good to see these things mangled like this.

People who profess to have "loved" the Broadway production of Smile, either are remembering it fondly for reasons of their own, or are selectively remembering what was good about it - i.e. most of the score, and the very clever staging of some of the numbers. Having seen several productions post-Broadway they certainly can't be remembering the book with fondness because the book is dreadful and the big problem. It was on Broadway and it is in the licensed version. No, Smile is one of those shows that develops a cult because of the songs - I like to think we helped in that regard, by doing several of them on the Unsung Musicals albums - they're quite wonderful.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Smile The Musical
Posted: 10/29/13 at 07:30pm
^ And the irony (at least as far as your opinion is concerned) is that the only Tony nomination this show received was for Best Book of a Musical.

I don't remember loving the book, but I don't remember being bothered by it either. Or finding anything sorely lacking. It was fine. Some good laughs, and it moved the story along. I do remember the solid music score and some very clever staging (as you said), absolutely. I also remember Jodi Benson knocking it out of the park with "Disneyland."
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3

SUBMISSIONS ONLY
Watch Ep. 1-4 | Ep. 5 Coming in...