Recap/Review – Smash – “The Workshop” – 3/19/12

Hi, guys. This week featured Bernadette Peters and a cast member of the show got fired. Let’s take a look at an episode that was significantly better than last week. Oh, and just as I was finishing this, I heard about the season two renewal of Smash. I couldn’t be more excited!


With the workshops coming up, Ivy invites her mother, Leigh Conroy (played by Bernadette Peters), to see a rehearsal and the workshop. Everyone is happy to meet Leigh, and they pressure her into singing a song, much to the displeasure of Ivy. Derek notices and gives Ivy a compliment on how she’s handling everything.

Jump with me to read more.

The rehearsal space is very hot because the boiler broke down the day before the investors show up. When Eileen tells Nick, the bartender, about the problems, he mentions he knows someone who might be able to fix the heating.

Michael and Julia continue to flirt, but Tom walks in while they’re kissing, and Ellis happened to be in the room, as well. When Michael’s wife and kid show up at rehearsal, Julia isn’t too happy and runs outside. Tom goes after her to talk to her and figures she slept with Michael. Julia breaks down and goes home, and Tom goes back to the rehearsal room. Derek is mad at Julia for leaving while the book still isn’t finished. Ellis takes Eileen apart and tells her about Julia and Michael sleeping together. Eileen acknowledges that it’s useful information but warns Ellis to keep that information to himself.

When Julia gets home, she hears a noise and goes upstairs. She finds Leo and Mason using drugs. She blows up at Leo about the pressure of the workshops, but Leo tells her she sucks.

Leigh and Ivy are watching a movie at home when Ivy tries to talk about the steroids. Leigh mentions that she won a Tony without ever using drugs.

On the day of the workshop, Eileen takes Nick and his plumber to the boiler room, and they have to break a lock to enter.

That same morning, Julia tells Michael that Leo knows about their affair, but Derek interrupts and asks Julia and Michael to fix the dialogue of the breakup scene between Marilyn and DiMaggio. Julia and Michael use the moment to solve their trouble, but Derek loves it as dialogue for the scene. Julia and Michael leave, and Derek talks to Eileen. Derek’s worried the show is cursed, but Eileen is convinced he’s a very talented director.

Bobby is checking the crowd before the performance, and he sees a representative of three different Hollywood stars who could play Marilyn. He talks about it with Karen, but Sam interrupts and explains that Ivy can overhear their conversation. Bobby and Karen apologize as Sam talks to Tom about the ensemble being insensitive towards Ivy. Tom walks over to Ivy and asks how she is feeling. She mentions her mother keeps undermining her and how she’s annoyed at how Karen gets handed everything.

Nick interrupts Eileen welcoming the investors to tell her that fixing the boiler will take some time. Eileen invites Nick to stay and watch the workshop.

Before the workshop starts, Derek tells the potential investors how the play will focus mostly on Marilyn’s DiMaggio years. When Leigh shows up late, everyone applauds her, much to the irritation of Ivy, who looks in.

The workshop’s first act consists of “Let Me Be Your Star,” “20th Century Fox Mambo,” “History Is Made At Night,” and “The National Pastime.” Karen falls off a chair right before the intermission.

In the intermission, Michael tries to talk to Julia, but she shoots him down. Derek tells Ivy, as her director, to get her head in the game. Tom overhears and tells Derek that he shouldn’t talk to his stars in the intermission.

After the intermission, the show focusses on the breakup and Michael/DiMaggio performs the new song “Lexington & 52nd Street.” As the workshop ends, the air conditioning turns on again.

After the show, Derek congratulates the cast on a great workshop. The ensemble teases Karen about falling down, and Karen responds by saying she was overwhelmed by Ivy.

After the show, Leigh tells Ivy she loves the show, but doesn’t mention Ivy specifically. Ivy asks what her mother thought, and when she doesn’t give an answer, Ivy tells her mother how she sucks the life out of everything. Ivy draws a parallel between her life and Marilyn’s: “Marilyn was an unhappy, drug-addicted disaster because her mother didn’t love her.” Derek overhears the conversation.

Back at home, Leigh asks Ivy if she’ll visit home anytime soon, and Ivy declines. Leigh tries to guilt Ivy by mentioning how her family misses her but ends by telling Ivy that the theatre wasn’t the life she wanted for her daughter because it can be heartbreaking. And she doesn’t want her daughter to have to go through that, even though Leigh thinks Ivy is plenty talented.

Derek, Eileen, Tom, and Julia read up on the first review, and they aren’t stellar. They discuss what didn’t work, and Eileen suggests casting a name for Marilyn. Derek mention Ivy wasn’t at the top of her game, but Tom blames Derek for that. Tom mentions Michael might’ve been the problem, Julia backs Tom. Derek thought Michael was sensational, but Eileen backs Tom and Julia. They decide to fire Michael.

Back at home, Julia tries to talk to Leo, but he isn’t that talkative. Julia tells Leo they decided to fire Michael, which overwhelms Leo, and he starts crying.
In other story lines:

Karen sings “Brighter Than the Sun” at Bobby Roscin’s studio. He liked what she recorded and invites her to come by again. That invitation interferes with the workshop, so Karen decides to decline, much to the surprise of (colleague) Bobby and Jessica and irritation of Ivy, who overhears.

John shows up for the workshop, and when he tries to congratulate Tom after the show, he gets brushed off.

This week focused primarily on the workshop, and that made this episode more focused than the episode of last week.

I loved how at the end of the episode, Tom voiced his doubts about Derek and his probable need to humiliate Ivy for her explosion in the previous episode. However, I do feel he was trying to be genuine this week (and saving that payback for a later time). He was very sweet to Ivy at the beginning of the episode, showing that he actually pays attention to how she feels. And although intermission might not be the best time for notes, he did clarify to Ivy how he was talking to her as the director. It’s always tricky to combine personal and professional relationships, but it appears he was trying his best this time. And don’t forget that everyone stands a lot to lose at this point in the production. The best line of the night went to Derek as well with, “That’s the least offensive thing I’ve said in years.”

Tom’s sharpness didn’t show in his “stupid gaydar.” At least he can start showing some real interest in Sam. Their tension has been obvious since they first met, and especially with Tom brushing off John this week, it shouldn’t take long for them to hook up.

As far as Ivy, I really felt for her. This week showed how Ivy’s phone call with her mother went in the pilot. And until the final scene, I really felt for Ivy, and Bernadette Peters played that part splendidly. But when Leigh explained to Ivy the reasons for her behavior, I was moved, and hopefully Ivy won’t resent her mother that much.

Michael and Julia continued their affair, and Tom figured what was happening. I loved how Julia didn’t need to say it, as a testament of their friendship, but Tom understood anyway. And I think Tom was really trying to help Julia by trying to get Michael fired. But as far as the show went, I have to agree with Derek, Michael was the really sensational part of the workshop. “Lexington & 52nd Street” sounded amazing.

Karen’s story felt (again) like a reason to have her sing a song, and moreso because she decided not to call the producer. I really hope this story doesn’t end here, because then I’d (really) have liked to see more of the workshop.

And I have to say something about two cuts during the episode. One with the shots of everyone waking up, and the other of the discussion between Karen, Jessica, and Bobby during warm up. These shots were way too cheesy for my taste.

Finally, I have to close by saying I’m very glad that Eileen told Ellis to keep quiet. That probably won’t be the last of it, though.

This week, McPhee sang “Brighter Than the Sun,” originally by Colbie Caillat. I liked how she sang it. The song felt a little more romantic than the original. Bernadette Peters sang “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of the song itself, but she sang it fine, and it’s always nice to see an actress like her give a performance. Finally, we got the new song “Lexington & 52nd Street,” sung by Chase. He gave me goosebumps, and when he sang that final part to Julia, my heart broke.

Next week on “The Coup,” the team deals with the aftermath of the workshop, Ivy remains in the dark about her fate, and Derek recruits Karen to help steal the musical from Tom and Julia. Tune in at 10/9c at NBC. Go to to watch this episode again. Sorry, guys. No new music out this week.

What did you think?

– JJ

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One Response to Recap/Review – Smash – “The Workshop” – 3/19/12

  1. Johanneke says:

    I agree with your sentiments on Derek. He was trying to be professional by telling Ivy clearly that he was talking to her as her director. I was actually almost cheering that he was being so clear to her 🙂 And that line about the least offensive thing was genius!

    I’m sad that Michael is fired from Marilyn, because he was great for the piece. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him, considering how he apparently felt for Julia.

    The scene with Ivy’s mother performing got me confused. There were so many weird glances and looks that I felt like I was missing something. Leigh looked kind of scared, or at the very least reluctant, to sing a song (or sing a song in front of Ivy?). And there were some looks from Julia as well that I couldn’t figure out, like she was picking up on Leigh’s sentiment, or the tension between Leigh and Ivy?