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Welcome, friends, to the first official Smashurday… or should I say Zmashurday? (Yeah, I probably shouldn’t.)
There’s only one thing that could possibly ease the pain of Smash being relegated to the land of Cops repeats and hour-long infomercials: The presence of one Liza Minnelli, vamping and schlurring through a sweet original tune as only she can. No wonder the show’s writers chose to have Liza play herself; nobody they invented could be as much of a character as Ms. Minnelli is naturally. (Though this does mean that Smash takes place in a world where Liza Minnelli exists, but Bernadette Peters doesn’t. Perish the thought!)
Among Liza’s many abilities, she possesses the power to single-handedly heal interpersonal rifts wide enough to tear an entire show apart. As “The Surprise Party” begins, Ivy is still sullenly insisting that Tom can’t sit with her. (We never see her declare, “We can’t be friends — I’m in tech!” — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.) Tom is so glum about being iced out by his pal that he doesn’t even crack a smile when Julia jokes that Leo is off visiting colleges. Good one, Julia! Where’s he applying, Bag of Scarves State?
Adding insult to injury, Tom realizes in the midst of rehearsal that he’s forgotten it’s Ivy’s birthday. This sin is particularly grievous because unlike everyone else on the planet, “Ivy loves her birthday!” He decides he’s going to make it up to her with an extravagant present — LIZA LIZA LIZA — utterly blind to the fact that Ivy’s already planning a party to which Tom is not invited. Wait, am I accidentally watching High School Musical? Not again!
Meanwhile, Karen and Jimmy are indulging in some high school-esque hijinks of their own. (Admit it: If you’re reading this, there is a 100 percent chance that you engaged in a steamy backstage makeout session sometime between the ages of 14 and 18.) Jimmy’s still insisting that he and Karen don’t tell anyone about their offstage activities, because that would be unprofessional. Sucking face in the workplace during business hours is, of course, totally professional.
In between private sessions in the wardrobe room, K&J find time to rehearse a new Hit List number — “Original,” a song all about normal girls who got famous by embracing new, manufactured identities. (Hey, what’s the theme of Hit List again?) It’s a fun, poppy earworm of a song that sounds more like Taylor Swift than Jonathan Larson, which is not at all a bad thing; the choreography, which shows normally-dressed dancers transforming themselves into facsimiles of Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey, is especially cool. Let’s pray to Patti Lupone that this is the closest Lana ever gets to Broadway, though.
NEXT: Minnellium Approaches