SMILE

BobbyBubbi
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/14
"Smile" who saw it? what'd you think?
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:10pm
I was wondering who had seen 1986's bomb Smile by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman, and what you thought? Apparently there have been revisions, but I don't see this one get performed regionally very often.

I love this clip. No one does the ending like Jodi:

DAME
Broadway Legend
joined:4/15/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:19pm
I saw it. It was mediocre at best but very entertaining. From first preview on word was out this was not going to last long so the hardcore theater goers of the day were all going and being one of those over enthusiastic audiences. The guy who played the choreographer was very good, and it was the first time I saw Jeff Mccarthy in anything and I was crushing on him big time.
HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
~~tiny3~~
Featured Actor
joined:2/20/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:25pm
oops double post

Updated On: 5/27/14 at 07:25 PM
BobbyBubbi
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:27pm

Hahaha, THIS Jeff McCarthy?

~~tiny3~~
Featured Actor
joined:2/20/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:28pm
yeah, me too,dame. I also liked marsha Waterbury. what ever happened to her
? the film however is just waaay better. superb black comedy, unappreciated at the time imho.
DAME
Broadway Legend
joined:4/15/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:31pm
I think Marsha Waterbury goes by a different last name now. She is here in Los Angeles and does a lot of regional and small tours. Last time I heard of her in anything she was a last minute replacement for Lainie Kazan in Fiddler somewhere. I will try to find her name.

And yes; THAT Jeff McCarthy.
HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
DAME
Broadway Legend
joined:4/15/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 07:39pm
Strike that. According to IMDB she still goes by the same name. Maybe I was thinking of Marcia Rodd?
HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
Visceral_Fella
Broadway Star
joined:1/18/12
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 09:46pm
I saw a college production of it, and I thought it was absolutely dreadful. I don't think that it was the direction or the actors, I just didn't think it was very good at all. It's also very offensive at times.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 09:53pm
I too saw it and thought it mediocre, but entertaining. Disneyland is one of my favorite show tunes though.
ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
BobbyBubbi
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/27/14 at 10:34pm
DAME- LOL. Do you remember anything about the set?

Visceral_Fella- That's interesting, what did you find about it that was offensive? I can't find a script or anything online so it would be nice to hear more about your thoughts.

ARTc3- Me too!

It's sad Marvin couldn't quite get another hit off the ground after A Chorus Line.

Updated On: 5/27/14 at 10:34 PM
Visceral_Fella
Broadway Star
joined:1/18/12
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 02:00am
There's a latin contestant who is written in thick spanish dialect who enters the contest with prize winning guacamole. She sings several songs about her guacamole and there are a lot of racist jokes toward her. That character leaves the competition and there's no resolve at all. It doesn't serve an purpose.

Then there's a gospel solo for what is usually cast as the black contestant. That isn't so bad I'll admit, but my eyebrow raised about that after seeing how poorly the latin contestant and the slurs toward her were written.

newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 08:42am
There are some who have argued that "Maria's Song" works on two levels - yes, it's an offensive Mexican stereotype, but that Maria is intentionally working the stereotype to win. I don't see it, but that's what they say. To me, the song is a bunch of easy Mexican food rhymes. I don't see wit, but others do, it should be acknowledged.

"Disneyland," on the other hand, is a song that some just go ape over and I'm not sure why - it seems to be the K-Mart flip side of "Somewhere That's Green." Both songs extol the beauties of artificial gloss, but "Green" does it in a cartoon-ish and satirical way. We love Audrey and laugh at her love of the vulgar. But "Disneyland" has absolutely no other level than being a sincere anthem to the American Girl's Love of Fake Over Real, and it seems we're intended to sympathize with that plastic point of view. Sure, she belts her head off, but the point of the song has always struck me as a strange thing to applaud.

And, in a nutshell, that's my problem with Smile - it seems to me that the writers somehow forgot that the source material was an indictment against pageant culture, and turned into something that could easily play at the American Girl Theatre.
ceisen
Swing
joined:5/12/05
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 09:24am
DAME--You were right about Marsha Waterbury. Before changing to Waterbury, she used the name Marsha Skaggs. She used that name when she appeared in the original production of They're Playing Our Song.

I have been obsessed with Smile for years. I just wish they had released the original cast album, but, from what I've read, Marvin Hamlisch refused to let that happen. I have the demo version that used the synthesizer and have several of the songs recorded by others on various cds.
doodlenyc
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 10:07am
Marsha Skaggs was also the replacement Audrey in "Little Shop..."

The biggest sin of this show was that they took a hilarious film and turned it into a boring musical.

There was no fire between the two leads. Neither were very good in this. Sparks fly between Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon in the film. Little Bob's obsession with taking the girl's pictures was funny in the film, and creepy in the musical.

The actresses playing the Misses were the best part, imo.

Maria, played by Maria O'Brien in the film, definitely is playing up her heritage to gain favor in the film. Somehow what was not racist in the film, felt racist in the show.

Watch the film...and see Melanie Griffith, Annette O'Toole (doing a hilarious striptease for her talent) and Denise Nickerson, Violet Beauregarde from "Willy Wonka..." sing "Spring is Here" for her talent.

Dark comedy simply didn't work on stage here.
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

finebydesign
Broadway Legend
joined:7/17/07
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 10:56am
doodlenyc, I cannot agree more with you about how creepy the nude photograph plot device is. While I understand it's a more interesting adult turn it is pretty bananas. There is also a creepy factor with Bob and the host of show. I'm not sure how this played in the 80s, but when I saw the tape it was very hard to relate to. This show also has tonal issues, who is the intended audience? It feels like teens but has very adult issues.

For me the single biggest problem with the show is who to root for. Robin and Doria want two very different things, and while I LOVE opposition and complexity the audience gets lost. I've always assumed Robin was the protagonist, but then you have Doria with the big song and bigger wants.

Doria's story feels more like Ashman doing his pro-protagnist thing, while Robin's story is complex and unexplored.
doodlenyc
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 11:04am
fine, I suggest watching the film and seeing how those plots work. They tinkered with the girls' stories. Jerry Belson wrote the film and adapted it for the musical, but he lost so much of the quirky charm of the original.

I simply think that that kind of dark comedy just didn't translate here.
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

Wilmingtom
Broadway Star
joined:7/18/11
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 11:59am
Waterbury is Marsha's maiden name. When she married Jimmy Skaggs, she took his name and years after their divorce, went back to Waterbury.

I saw the original and the problem was that the producers kept pushing the writers to dilute the darker, more satirical elements that make the movie so terrific. So the musical was just bland. The authors went back to their original impulses for the licensed version and it's much better. For anyone who hasn't seen the movie, it's a treat. Broadway titan Michael Kidd is a scream as the choreographer.
BobbyBubbi
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 10:39pm
Visceral_Fella- Thank you so much for your input, it’s strange Marvin let that happen. Do you remember when you saw it? Apparently it’s been reworked a lot over the years.

newintown- I like your take/argument with “Disneyland,” “Somewhere that’s Green” is excellent satire because at the heart of it there is still truth, she still wants love. “Disneyland” is just an anthem to, well, Disneyland lol. I still love the song lol.

doodlenyc- I guess I really need to watch the movie.


Wilmingtom- Michael Kidd?!?!! yea, I definitely need to see this movie.

Jodi should have done more on broadway!
evic
Broadway Star
joined:3/5/04
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 10:59pm
It wasn't good but the number that closed the first Act was fun involving a patter like song with a pillow fight with all the girls. There is a documentary following it's out of town tryouts and previews on Youtube from an ABC special with Diane Sawyer that is interesting.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
SMILE
Posted: 5/28/14 at 11:32pm
I think "Disneyland" works way better in context of the show than out of it, where it can appear as a sincere tribute to Disneyland. The reason it works in the show is that the character who sings it loves Disneyland because it is just like her- completely surface with no real inner life. It's like "Dancing Through Life" but significantly less self-aware and ironic.

One could argue that it's not a good theatre song because it aches for, yearns for, nothing- literally, for nothingness. But it's got to be one of the few songs where the singer is asking for a sense of emptiness, rather than a sense of fulfillment.

In regards to why the show doesn't work, the licensed version works much better than Broadway did. But at the same time, it's a show that is too much of its time without really satirizing its time. Plus, the tone is no longer apropos for the subject matter- the notion that beauty pageants are wrong because they hold girls to too high of a standard and are cynical and corrupt under has sort of been replaced by the idea that beauty pageants oversexualize young girls (which is barely touched on) and are often havens for pedophiles. Similarly, a gag about child pornography and a teenage peeper seems much less like a joke in today's media environment.
BobbyBubbi
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/14
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 05:15am
evic, I watched it, what a treat! Thank you so much! For those who haven't seen it, here it is:



After watching it, I really wish they had made a cast recording.

I love when after a HUGE pause, the two leads give the show an 8 1/2 out of 10. Yea girls, you're really selling it. LOL.

darquegk- very good points.

Updated On: 5/29/14 at 05:15 AM
Fan123
Stand-by
joined:8/30/08
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 06:12am
Interesting reading these takes on 'Disneyland'. Based just on my hearing Kerry Butler's version, the song seemed to work to me. The song did read as sincere, but I thought the listener was meant to pity the character for sincerely loving fake things so much. Based on the first verse it seemed the character had become dependent on escapism early on due to a difficult family life. But... I don't know the show, so may be completely off base. What's the character (Doria, apparently) really like in the context of the show?
jkstheatrescene
Understudy
joined:4/18/13
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 08:30am
I saw both the out of town tryout and the Broadway production.

I LOVED the out of town tryout. It was smart, self-aware (before self-aware hit it big in musicals), and exciting. The Broadway production featured several cuts and an almost complete change in tone. I remember specifically thinking at the time that they really copped out, playing it way too safe.

In the complete context of the tryout version, both the Hispanic contestant stuff and the nude photo thing weren't as offensive or as "creepy" as they came across on Broadway. As I said, the tryout version was much darker, and the Hispanic contestant was really a smart girl who played up what she knew the judges wanted to see and expected from her. She was as manipulative and nasty as the rest of the contestants who used their looks, sex and other tools at their disposal. She made the judges look like idiots. Similarly, the boys trying to get nude photos was played as much for the boys trying to put one over on their parents (who were pointedly ignoring them), as it was for the "horny boys will be boys" thing. Oddly, those two aspects of the show remained largely unchanged by the time it got to Broadway, probably making them seem much more severe.

Had they kept it pretty much the way it as when it started out, it might have been much more of a success. And I agree with the previous posters who lament the lack of a full out cast recording (there is a demo recording featuring the cast, but sounds awful, as the score is pretty great. If it were happening today, I'll bet they'd make it even darker and more self-aware.

And Veanne Cox was great!
Favorite shows of the 2013 - 2014 season (so far): Fun Home, The Glass Menagerie, After Midnight, The Bridges of Madison County, If/Then, The Most Happy Fella
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 09:10am
I think if you compare "Disneyland" with other theatre songs about wanting "the wrong thing" ("Happily Ever After" and "Someone Is Waiting" and even "Rose's Turn" come to mind), you'll see that "Disneyland" is set to standard-triumphant-power-ballad music, giving the passive listener no clue to the ambivalent or "off" nature of the meaning of the song (unlike the other [better, to me] examples mentioned).

But Hamlisch's talent always leaned more toward writing a really great tune than a song that musically reflected the character or situation with specificity. Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily. I'm very fond of his work on both A Chorus Line and They're Playing Our Song. His later three scores, not so much.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 09:11am
I saw it on Broadway in previews and loved it. It felt a bit dated at the time, with beauty pageants as major pop culture events well on their way out. They had been dwindling since the '70s, and with the Vanessa Williams "scandal" just a few years before "Smile" opened, I think general audiences weren't all that into the subject matter. Niche audiences, sure, but they don't keep shows running the way something with mass appeal does.

Since you asked about the set, I thought it was great! Simple but very flexible. I loved the way you saw certain scenes (like "In Our Hands") from both the front and back of the stage. Nicely done. And the "split set" showing all the girls' rooms for "Until Tomorrow Night" was great, and I loved how the pillows (from the girls' fighting) exploded into a shower of feathers as the Act I curtain came down.

The orchestrations were wonderful, and the score seemed a bit unconventional (in a good way) as far as structure. Lots of "montage" songs/scenes/songs, very much like "Hello, Twelve" from ACL.

The standouts were Anne Bobby and especially Jodi Benson. She did knock "Disneyland" out of the park, and I remember turning to my friends in the audiences and asking, "Who is THAT?!?" I thought she would get rave reviews when it opened, but the show (including Benson) seemed to be damned with faint praise or dismissed. I don't think it got awful reviews from anybody, but no raves either. It was gone too soon.

I saw the OBC of "Les Mis" just a few weeks later, and I preferred "Smile." "Les Mis" was slow, bloated, and ponderous, with stiff performances overall. The guy next to me (during the 4th performance after the show's opening) fell asleep and started snoring loudly. People around us were laughing. That's an idea of how "Les Mis" impressed us.

"Smile" was a lot of fun. Good satire (which came through clearly to me, despite the toning down from the out-of-town tryout). The whole show and all of the characters were satirical, so I'm not sure why anybody would single out the Latina number. It was very clear what she wanted and her goal (as a character) in the show. One of the other girls even calls her on her bullsh*t afterward. It wasn't like she was being portrayed as a "Spanish peasant." She was a smart girl, putting one over on the judges, and it worked.

Anyway, "Smiles" run was too short, in an era where it could have lasted a year or more. Now, I think the show is too dated in both pop references and in pop culture to "matter" to any general audiences. A good Off-Broadway or regional production would be great (and I mean a GOOD one).

And I wish there had been a complete OBC cast recording with those full orchestrations. I remember loving the overture, especially.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
SMILE
Posted: 5/29/14 at 09:55am
In many ways, I see "Smile" as being superseded today by "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," which tries to do essentially the same thing but succeeds better overall.

And I have only seen parts of the Broadway, but have seen and performed in the out-of-town version, as it is the licensed one, twice.

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