Bombshell, the musical within a show on Smash, is in much disarray as the NBC drama wraps its freshman run this Monday at 10/9c – and yet Broadway vet Christian Borle says it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before on the real-world planks.
For example, coming off the egg that the Marilyn Monroe bio-musical laid with its original bleak ending, Borle’s Tom and Debra Messing’s Julia are tasked with penning a brand-new tune in time for the next preview – which is less than 24 hours away. “It’s very true is that in previews, you can arrive in the morning and have a new song that appears in the show that night,” the actor vouches. “And then it can be cut the next morning!”
Of course, the larger issue looming over Bombshell is that matter of who will fill the lead role now that movie star Rebecca Duvall has exited stage left. Because while both Ivy and Karen are familiar with the lead role, understudies actually aren’t rehearsed in until later in the process. That said, “Any understudy worth their salt is kind of doing work on their own,” Borle says, “because you never know what fate is going to hand you.”
For example, fate could sneak peanuts into your star’s smoothie. Has Borle ever witnessed that one on the Great White Way? “Not that I’m aware of. Or should I say, ‘Not yet.'”
While Tom casts his vote for the new Marilyn with at the very least “the raise of an eyebrow,” Borle says the ultimate decision comes from the director, in what he calls “one of Derek’s shining moments.”
“Finally, in crisis, he shows his mettle,” he continues. “As detached and emotionless as he can be, he’s the one who’s able to see the forest for the trees.”
As the scramble to serve up a new song and the back-and-forth on Marilyn plays out over this final hour of Season 1, Borle says, “It’s a ticking clock a la 24” — which of course regularly dealt with very different bombshells.
One mystery that’s much mightier than the casting of Marilyn is what Smash will even look like come Season 2, given the fact that veteran Broadway scribe Theresa Rebeck stepped down as showrunner earlier this spring, with Gossip Girl‘s Josh Safran now set to step in.
That unexpected transition – now coupled with the extra time on hand, given Smash‘s announced midseason berth for next season – has left much up in the air.
“Anything that could have potentially been in the works…. I don’t know how much credence you can put into it,” Borle says. “This feels like a major regime change to me, though I know that everybody is really excited about [Safran].”
According to Borle, “The joke is that we’re pretty sure that Smash is still going to be about musicals, and that [Bombshell] will still be, if not the entire focus, a focus of the show.” But beyond that, Borle maintains, “I haven’t heard a peep!”