After a solid preview in Boston, the cast of the Marilyn Monroe musical Bombshell – including dueling divas Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) – are back in the Big Apple and hoping to make their Broadway debut at the fabled St. James Theatre.
But opening isn't going to be easy: Bombshell producer Eileen Rand's ex-husband launches a plan to make her funding disappear and close down the show. While Eileen (Anjelica Huston) and her team, director Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) and writers Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle), do their best to keep up appearances, Smash's characters deal with a variety of other problems.
Julia is depressed because her marriage is ending; Derek is being accused of sexual harassment; Ivy is coming to terms with her actions from season 1, namely sleeping with Karen's ex-fiancé.
In the meantime, Broadway's circle of life continues: Two-time Tony winner Veronica Moore (Jennifer Hudson) is a sensation in Beautiful, a hit show about a "sweet, 1950s Aretha/Etta James-type" with an overbearing mother.
Later, Karen meets Jimmy Collins (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle Bishop (Andy Mientus), a pair of talented youngsters with dreams of writing their own musical one day. When Karen gets a sample of Jimmy's music, she eventually gets Derek interested in directing their work. (If you're counting, that will make three shows within the show.)
But Smash's characters don't necessarily need a stage to sing! Apart from Veronica, who belts out "Mama Makes Three" in a scene from Beautiful, and Karen singing "Cut, Print ... Moving On" in Boston, many of the performances take place offstage.
In fact, there were no less than eight musical numbers in Smash's two-hour premiere. Among them: Karen and Veronica perform "On Broadway" at a press event where Eileen was hoping to announce the show's move to the St. James; Ivy performs "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House for an audition after getting fired from Bombshell; Karen and Ivy sing The Eurythmics' "Would I Lie to You?" dressed as Robert Palmer girls in Derek's drunk mind; Karen sings Jimmy's song, "Caught in the Storm" at his party in Brooklyn; and, at Eileen and Derek's request, Ivy belts out "They Just Keep Moving the Line" at a Broadway League event to prove that Bombshell hasn't completely imploded.