Originally published on Advocate.com February 05 2013 8:00 AM ET
If you thought Smash quickly jumped the shark, its producers are trying to lure you back to the Great White Way. After a fantastic pilot that was beloved by both critics and viewers, Smash fans were treated to a Bollywood dream sequence and Debra Messing’s scarf collection and left staring into their Playbills for cues about where this all might be heading.
The show was not working on multiple levels, so out with creator Theresa Rebeck, and in with former Gossip Girl showrunner Josh Safran, who is set to debut the new and improved NBC hit tonight. Here are five reasons to gear up for Smash season 2 and prepare to become a Broadway baby all over again.
1. Jeremy Jordan The star of Broadway’s Bonnie & Clyde and Newsies joins the cast as Jimmy, a young composer writing a Rent-type rock opera, and who the creators of the Marilyn Monroe musical are trying to woo. Aside from his good looks, Jeremy can belt tunes with the best of them and recently received rave reviews on Broadway and for in the Queen Latifah-Dolly Parton vehicle Joyful Noise. Watch him sing "Broadway, Here I Come" from the season premiere below:
2. Jennifer Hudson
The Oscar-winning Dreamgirl returns to television in a multiple=episode guest spot that could find her closer to EGOT glory. Playing a Tony-winning Broadway star whose own musical threatens the Broadway-bound Bombshell, Hudson brings down the house with songs such as"Can’t Let Go" (which you can watch below), and completes the feat of making a show diva lovable.
3. Guest Stars!
More star-studded than a season of The Love Boat, the new and improved Smash already has J. Hud as a guest star, but it’s pulled out all the stops when it comes to stage legends. Bernadette Peters will return as Megan Hilty’s mother, while Rosie O’Donnell, Matthew Broderick, and Sean Hayes will all return to the Broadway stage in the upcoming season. Also in attendance is the one and only Liza Minnelli, who sings an original number by series composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
4. Plot Ch-Ch-Changes
Even lovers of the show knew that all was not well in the world of Smash. The backstage gossip and drama featured in the series was no match for reality when NBC decided to fire creator Theresa Rebeck and retool with Josh Safran, the former Gossip Girl showrunner. Debra Messing’s character, Julia, had her endless collection of scarves, and her family subplots (adoption! adultery!) were just as boring. Her husband's storyline is quickly wrapped up in the season premiere, while other hate-watcher favorites like Ellis, the backstabbing assistant, and Dev, Katharine McPhee’s boyfriend, have both exited stage left, and hopefully only return for a limited engagement.
5. The Music
While viewers debated the quality of the first season, one integral ingredient that was never questioned was the original music. The songs for the fictional Marilyn Monroe musical, Bombshell, were written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. They are the same team behind the musical versions of Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can, along with a slew of other film and television projects. The dance numbers from the show-within-a-show were always the best part of any episode, and now they have all been compiled into an actual cast recording. Spanning seasons 1 and 2, Bombshell, which hits stores next week, is a 22-song soundtrack featuring all the songs from the show in story order, and the outcome is a musical that holds up to some of the most classic of Broadway albums.
The second season of Smash premieres tonight at 9 on NBC.