Race Or Whatever

Om Nom Nom Nom Nom

So, The Hunger Games, talk about a bait and switch. I didn’t read the books but I made sure to see the movie because I thought it was about a sassy independent woman named Katniss who is trying to diet down to her birth weight to win the love of Gale, a blood diamond magnate, all while being plied with carbs by a sinister doll-faced baker who harbors a slightly creepy love. Apparently, I was wrong. I am using italics to telegraph my disapproval.

Despite the italics, I did enjoy The Hunger Games. I love any movie about food. And I know that The Hunger Games is not technically about food so much as it’s about a totalitarian state that has lost its humanity to an obsession with status, leisure and possessions. Or whatever. But I try not to pay attention to that and focus on the food. Trust me, if you take away the carnage, The Hunger Games is basically an episode of Chopped.

Anyway, to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to see the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. I felt it was an appropriate choice given that Thanksgiving is the greatest eating holiday of the year. I enjoyed it too, even though there was much less food in it. It was like my favorite episode of Lost plus my favorite episode of Project: Runway plus Stanley Tucci’s cackle times two hours of unrelenting human cruelty. So, a great time  for the whole family.

Caesar

Best part, that bit where the island starts spinning. Thrilling! I was like, “Oh, I know what’s happening, Desmond forgot to put the numbers into the computer on time. Katniss needs to go to the Swan station and punch in 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 and then Capote will stop spinning the island. That crazy Capote.”

When they make a Hunger Games amusement park I hope that’s one of the rides. But, now that I think about it (I try not to put any thought whatsoever into what I write before I write it. That’s my process.) a Hunger Games amusement park is the absolute last place on Earth I’d like to go. 1) Everything will probably kill you; 2) The concession stands will likely be empty.

Unless, of course, it’s an amusement park modeled after the Capitol. That would be fun, if morally awkward. (BTW, “Fun, if morally awkward” is what it reads on my tramp stamp. The more you know.)smileson

Speaking of the Capitol, can we talk about Capote some more? When Plutarch Heavensbee (Lord,  these names. So ethnic!) showed up I was like, “Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman confused? Why is he not wearing a costume? Did he just wander on to the set after teaching a class at Fordham called ‘Symposium on Rumples and Sighs’? Is he cameoing as himself? ” Elizabeth Banks spent 6 hours in the makeup chair (those eyelashes! I die!) and he’s picking a blazer from his personal collection, running a comb through his hair and showing up looking non-plussed. There are no plusses in that scene. He’s like “Hi, I’m Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Pleased to meet me. Where do I stand? Never mind; doesn’t matter. I’ll stand wherever I want.” Meanwhile, Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence is dressed like a character from Zoobilee Zoo and going through the nine stages of struggleface and Elizabeth Banks is in the background lip-synching for her life. She is giving you everything! Hair! Glitter! Curtains! Sashay, you stay, Banks.

effie_mahoganyI do find it confusing that her character’s name is Effie Trinket because I always think of Effie White from Dreamgirls and then I think Is JHud here? IS JHUD GOING TO SING?! Which is, I guess, my one criticism of the Hunger Games movies: they don’t have enough moments where JHud enters, the screen goes dark, she looks directly into the camera and sings the hell out of a ballad. Maybe in Mockingjay.

Despite my love for Effie, I think my favorite character is Peeta because in every scene his primary motivation is to get back to baking bread. This is a man who has priorities (And a pretty, pretty face. And absolutely no survival skills. But such a pretty face.) His life is on the line and he’s like “Challah anyone? Freshly baked challah.”peeta

My second favorite character is Finnick, a man who just fucking eats sugar cubes because he can. This guy knows how to live. Plus, he’s like a strangely appealing tornado of sex appeal, cuddly grandma love, and probably diabetes. That’s exactly what I search for on OkCupid ever damn day. As God as my witness, one day I will be Mrs. Finnick O’Dair-Thomas and we will feast on sugar cubes and wear rock candy necklaces forever!Finnick

My least favorite characters are Rue and Beede because I imagined them as blacker.

I’m kidding, INTERNET.

Anyway, what am I talking about? This post isn’t even about the Hunger Games; it’s about food. TWIST! ::cue Lost sound effect and tinkling bells::

Actually, can I be serious for a minute? I know this blog isn’t really the place for seriousness, but I do have a rather sober thought.

Wait, before I get serious, I just want to say that my favorite scene in Catching Fire is the one where Peeta gets electrified and Finnick has to give him CPR because obviously. I love how they edited it so craftily; one gets the impression that Finnick is giving Peeta mouth-to-mouth but there isn’t ever a clear shot of it. Probably because the GIF of their lips touching would break the internet. When I become an overnight singing sensation I’m going to perform at the VMAs in front of a video where Finnick breathes life into Peeta’s obviously Burt’s Bees’ smothered lips on loop.

Okay, now seriousness.

Just kidding! Here’s a GIF of a cat who was shocked by my sudden change of topic!

shockedcat

But seriously. Catching Fire was surprisingly heavy. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how heavy it was; it’s a movie about kids locked in a stadium and told to kill each other. I’m just saying, it’s not exactly Best Man Holiday. It’s weird to claim that I enjoyed a movie that I grimaced through the whole time. And I kind of wonder what it says about our culture that this mentally taxing, dystopian film is such a massive blockbuster.

I found the scene where Gale was whipped to be especially disturbing. It took me by surprise, too. This was the first time I’d seen on-screen whipping since seeing 12 Years A Slave and the combined effect of those two paeans to human darkness really threw me for a loop.

I saw 12 Years the week before. For a month everyone my Facebook had been saying “Oh, you must see this movie! It will destroy you.” But I couldn’t really find a clear spot in my schedule for utter psychological collapse until mid-way through November.

I’ve been trying for weeks to find words to write about the movie but I think I’m just going to give up. It destroyed me. And there’s absolutely no way I can write about it on my ridiculous whimsical blog. I sat, hunched forward, arms crossed through the entire movie. I held my breath. It was oppressive. And the minute the screen went blank and the credits started, I burst into tears. Like sobbing. It would’ve been embarrassing except the theater was full of crying people. The place was a disaster. Even as I fell forward, keening, I started thinking about the kids at the concessions stand. What must it be like to work at a place where every 2 and a half hours, 100 people have complete breakdowns? It was like a psych ward.

I could not stop crying. My friend Daniel sat next to me and rubbed my arm. I’m glad he was there because what I really wanted to do was lie down on the floor and ugly cry. Like I desperately wanted to melt out of my chair and just lay my face in the puddle of tears and popcorn butter and mourn.

This is me after the movie ended:crying

This is me 10 minutes after the movie ended:Crying3

This is me 20 minutes after the movie ended:crying2

This is me the next day:Oprahcry4

I want so much to write about that movie but I just… I have no words. So, I’ll tell you this Thanksgiving story instead:

As every year, I had Thanksgiving at my parents house. In the past, I’ve gotten in trouble for “talking to my friends on the Internet” about the people who gave birth to me, so let’s say I’m not talking about my parents. Let’s say I’m talking about Cliff and Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Anyway, it was a nice intimate dinner, just Cliff and Clair, my brother Theo and me, Lisa Bonet.

This is what happens when we discuss my 401k.

This is what happens when we discuss my 401k.

My mother cooks every year, using recipes from a huge binder that she’s been compiling since before I was born. Every year she makes the same thing, so the binder isn’t full of new recipes but rather the same recipes copied over. My grandmother’s rolls recipe in her handwriting, then in my mother’s handwriting, then typed. My aunt’s orange jello recipe photocopied, revised. The stuffing recipe in my mother’s perfect penmanship, then in my teenage scrawl from the year I was entrusted with making it and decided to revise it, then the same recipe typed up from the year we got a computer and a printer.

SECRET FAMILY RECIPE

SECRET FAMILY RECIPE

My mother makes and revises a schedule for Thanksgiving dinner preparation every year, mapping out her plan up to a week in advance. And she saves each year’s schedule, and each year the binder grows. In the back of the binder she keeps the Christmas recipes, the Christmas schedules and every person’s Christmas wish list from every year. And so the binder has become a sort of family history through food, a beautiful scrapbook of our traditions. Nowadays, when we don’t see each other but a few times a year, the binder represents the thread that ties us together even when we’re physically apart.

After dinner this year, Theo went to work (he’s a detective, like a real one, not just a nosey person who watches too much of The Closer like I am) and Cliff and Clair and I retired to the living room to watch TV. Clair had DVR’d an episode of The Big Bang Theory that she really wanted me to watch. Like, she was serious about it. She’d texted me twice to let me know we’d be watching it. After that episode, we switched to TVOne where they were playing old Thanksgiving episodes from The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Living Single. 

rollsI was immediately taken back to a time when my conception of the world, of my place in the world as a black person, was shaped by the people I saw on TV. Inasmuch as 12 Years A Slave destroyed me, The Cosby Show made me by portraying a black family that loved each other, laughed with each other, and wasn’t weighed by oppression. It was liberating and it created a place for me that didn’t exist in the world I knew outside of our happy, literate, talkative home.

macandcheese Similarly, A Different World created a cultural reference point that, with every episode, made me feel more and more in touch with–for lack of a better term–my people. On the night that Whitley was supposed to get married and Dwayne Wayne burst into the ceremony and objected, Clair and I were at Security Square Mall (the black mall), and we stood at the window of a Montgomery Ward store with a crowd of maybe 15, 20 other people watching the now-iconic scene take place, watching Diahann Carroll scream “Die, just die” as Dwayne came running down the aisle. The store manager turned off the TVs just before the end of the episode because they were closing so, of course, we rioted.

At my parents’ house, we eat Thanksgiving dinner at a big wooden table. Just before we sat down, my mother came in and surveyed the room. “Oh no! I didn’t even put on the nice tablecloth,” she said. I replied. “It’s fine. No need to put on airs.” She said to me, “At my age, airs means gas.” We sometimes speak in punchlines.

My mother would like you to know that this is not the fancy tablecloth.

My mother would like you to know that this is not the fancy tablecloth.

We all sat down to eat, my father said grace, and we dug in. We talked about work, we talked about my other brother’s newborn baby, we told old stories we’ve all heard before. We re-wove the fabric of our history, our present and our future, over food.

On the wall behind the big wooden table, my mother has mounted two photographs of a dilapidated gray shack. This is the slave cabin that my great-grandfather was born in. It still stands today in Virginia. My mother and father visited about 10 years ago. It’s no bigger than a common half-bathroom. It’s slats don’t look like they kept out the wind or the rain or the heat. I sat at my parents table, beneath this picture, eating the food that symbolizes our shared heritage, and as with every year I felt the loving embrace of my childhood home, the familiarity of old patterns, the excitement of new ideas. But more than anything I felt grateful. I felt grateful to be free.

Advertisements
Standard
This publicity image released by NBC shows actress Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore in a scene from the second season of "Smash." "Smash," set in the world of New York theater, stars Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Angelica Huston. Guest stars this season include Jennifer Hudson. (AP Photo/NBC, Will Hart)
Smash

The Miseducation of Anita Hill

Okay, Smash we have to talk!

You’ve legit become an engrossing ensemble show; I actually care about what happens to most of the characters. I want more of them to succeed than I want to perish in hang-gliding accidents now. This is progress. I even am, sometimes, sort of, a little compelled by Karen. (#StillAnIvy) but we have to nip this Jimmy relationship in the bud before it gets going. I can’t.  I can’t. I CAN NOT with this. Jeremy Jordan is great; he sings like a lark and has the face of a young Jeremy Jordan ::swoon::. But this plotline is going nowhere.creep copy

Actually, I’ll tell you exactly where it’s going. If Smash wasn’t getting cancelled at the end of this year (which is it because somebody in Hollywood hates me–I’m looking at you, Girl Who Played Six on Blossom!) the season would end with a cliffhanger where Hit List inexplicably makes it to opening night on Broadway (despite the fact that it is written by amateurs, Off- and off-Off-Broadway are totally viable options, and the book doesn’t exist in this spectral plane). Then Jimmy, being that lovable loser that he is, would OD on X or whatever the kids are taking these days and disappear, leaving only a sad spotlight at curtain call, as Kyle, his floppy-haired footman, and Karen, his corpse bride, take to the streets to search for him, singing a song called “Codependency! (Fuck Yeah!)”

AND

I

CAN’T!

I can’t with Kyle being a lowly manservant, thrown hither and yon to the whims of his chemically dependent, moody friend (who probably has a borderline personality disorder).

Kyle and Bobby. Swoon.

Functional relationships? Matching swoop bangs? Absence of ironing? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I can’t with Karen lap-dogging after any man who is mean to her, just like Uncle Gerald from Iowa. I can’t with Julia castigating herself for all that is wrong with modern theater. I can’t with sad Ivy. And I can’t with Sexy Purlie.

Yes, you heard me. I can’t with this Derek storyline that somehow ends up being resolved not with him being chemical castrated and stuffed into a gimp suit, but rather proven right and competent by doing the one thing that you are NEVER TO DO: he makes JHud dance.

And you know that JHud comes from the Mariah Carey School of Standing Still and Singing. And you know that “I Got Love” was already roused from the moth balls and given glorious new life earlier in the episode when JHud stands still and saaaangs the hell out of it like God and Ossie Davis intended. And yet, for some reason, Derek and Josh Safran put their heads together and decided to Fosse-fy it. They turned every belt into a whisper (Don’t you know Jesus can’t hear you if you use your head voice?) They put JHud in character shoes like she’s a seven-year-old version of Lea Michelle on her first day of tap school. And they choreograph it like the Shady Pines production of Chicago.

And I can’t.

The only thing that would have made me more uncomfortable is if this was a scene from Clarence! The Clarence Thomas Musical and JHud was playing a Anita Hill. Act I closes with a showstopper called “What’s On My Coke (Ain’t No Joke)” ::abandons blog to go feverishly work on the book of said musical. Uses only scraps of paper and glints of light to write on because I am a poor gay striver and I exist primarily as a function of the whims of my straight counterparts (and sometimes in the novel The Hours).::

This publicity image released by NBC shows actress Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore in a scene from the second season of "Smash." "Smash," set in the world of New York theater, stars Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Angelica Huston. Guest stars this season include Jennifer Hudson.  (AP Photo/NBC, Will Hart)

100% not here for these Gwen Verdon shenanigans.

This is unacceptable.

Seriously, ladies and gays of Smash, can we please work on your self-actualization? There are like 2.25 straight men on this show and you’re all cow-towing to them. Porquoi?
This is professional theater, ladies and gays–your kingdom. Has any of those straight men every hit a high E on a belt or run into Michael Musto at a bathhouse? No, they have not. But you have. Who run the world? Gurls.

The only place ladies and gay have more power than professional theater is the dressing room at H&M, where one’s actual perception of reality is bent to the iron will of the surly staff. H&M is like Oz (both the magical land and the prison). I love how H&M even has a special “Real life” lighting, like “You may think you can see what things look like out there, in the ‘world’, but bitch you have no idea. Now buy these red skinny jeans before I shank the fuck out of you.”

I need y’all to rise up, ladies and gay! I need Ivy to own her fierceness. PLEASE. For instance, she rushes in to fill in at JHud’s concert and, upon seeing Karen, apologizes for her pressence.

Exsqueeze?!

Why is Ivy apologizing to Karen for taking a J-O-B? The market ain’t what it used to be, people are cutting back, you gotta catch as catch can.  If she hadn’t gotten this job on “Ronnie Moore Serves You Fosse’s Corpse” she would’ve had to make money selling her hair to French prostitutes or baking kitties into pies. What I’m saying is times is hard, times is haaaaaaard.

::applause break::

Seriously though, Ivy is a Broadway veteran! Stand up for yourself, girl! Karen was a last minute choice to star in an out-of-town tryout of a failed musical. Even I’ve done that. Ivy needs to go on Iyanla Vanzant‘s show and work out these inferiority issues. I am over meek Ivy. Own your life, woman! It’s like she’s playing Celie in an all-white version of The Color Purple (working title:  Beige.) Derek is playing Mister; Justin Beiber is Harpo; Adele is Miss Sophia; and I’m in the front row getting my life!

::praise break::

My one saving grace is the regal presence of Miss Deena Jones herself, the mother of an entire generation of on-screen singers from Moesha to Lauryn Hill’s surly Catholic school girl in Sister Act: Miss Sheryl Lee Ralph! Hallelujah!sheryl

I love that she comes striding in all shoulder pads and clear understanding of the hierarchy of needs. I love that she is essentially playing an alternate universe version of her character in Sister Act 2: Gangstas Paradise, complete with pursed lips, crushed dreams of a singing career that she takes out on her daughter and a revelatory moment of shiny-eyed pride during a concert at the end.

After a season of compulsive poor decision making from every character, Ms. Sheryl Lee takes these ladies and gays to school, Sister Mary Clarence-style. Derek’s sexual hangups? Not here for that. Drugged out white boy angst? Not here for that. Just write the damn song, thanks. Karen v. Ivy? Here for that, I am not. If you wanna be somebody, if you wanna go somewhere, you better sit on that stool and sing backup for my daughter!

Class dismissed! See you next week.

Standard
Smash

Happy Black History Smonth!

Oh, it’s been so long since we last had a Smash! (That’s what she said!) The last time Smash came on TV was forever ago! An asteroid hadn’t hit the Earth! And I had yet to sell my soul to Robin Wright’s bangs on House of Cards. It’s a different world, Dwayne Wayne.

Previously on Smash: new show runner Josh Safran showed up and was all like “Last season didn’t happen, okay? We burned a scarf, spat on its grave, and lined up so many buses to throw Theresa Rebeck under you would’ve thought it was a student matinee. We’re different!”

And it’s true.

Smash is so different in fact that this episode opens with a scene from Queer as Folk. Karen is…yawn. Sorry. Karen is being held aloft by what looks to be a mass of gyrating and jump-dancing homosexuals. Pop quiz: Is this is A) Limelight during my freshman year of college (I’m 31, do your own damn math) B) Boys Night Out at Fuerza Bruta (motto: look up… so it’s harder to identify who groped you), or C) the bouncy castle as my son’s Christening (what? I don’t have any straight friends and a petting zoo seemed a little Catholic)?

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Anywhoozles, this scene is a blah blah dream sequence blah blah Mean Jeremy Jordan zzzzz subplot of intrigue.

Guys, I really wanted to write about Karen this week. I did!  I have so many thoughts about her and about Katherine McPhee (who really hits the riffs in this song snippet with a wallop; that girl should try out for a television singing competition or something). But, listen, I was already sick of her by the time the sexy new credit sequence hit. (That I WILL address that at some point, but suffice to say it was the most enjoyable grand mal seizure I’ve ever had).

Too bad, so sad, Karen. Maybe next episode. (If every other character suddenly dies like this is Downton Abbey or something).

We can however, take a second—Hallelujah—to talk about the triumphant return—Praise your name, Lord—of the only thing keeping this ship sailing (and the only black person any of them know—and yes, I am aware of Tom’s “boyfriend” and no I don’t care). JHUD returns!

And what a return! She’s introduced in a HUGE apartment over-looking Central Park that on most shows signifies that the owner or resident is a mogul of some sort or Patty Hewes or Buzz Aldrin in that one episode of 30 Rock. But, this is Smash-world, which means that someone with a 1999 Audra McDonald level of fame and accomplishment  can totally afford it, too! No (110 in the) shade to Ms. McDonald, but I mean come on. CPWVeronica Chase is supposed to be a 29-year-old Broadway darling, not Alicia Keys. You know in real life she’d still be propped up in a sublet in Brooklyn, selling real estate on weekends.

Smoving on! JHUD is singing! (Because the writers of Smash know which side of the bread their bread is buttered on… what’s that phrase? Where their bread butter comes from? Who brings the boys to the milkyard? Where the dogs got let out from whence? I don’t know.)  ANYWAY, JHUD is singing “Soon As I Get Home” from The Wiz! I’m just going to give you a moment to compose yourself.

Ready?

AAAAGH JHUD in all-white singing the second best song from The Wiz!  Have I died? Am I deceased? Is this my funeral? Because these things are clearly stipulated in my living will? Am I in E. Lynn Heaven?

Jennifer Hudson and her hair

Unbe-weave-able.

It is glorious.

I must admit, however, I’m pulled out of the moment by her Coretta Scott King weave. I know it’s Black History Month, but I am 100% not here for that His Girl Friday cinnamon bun swirl.

Speaking of black hair, I’ve got to go work on my new Good Times-meets-Dark & Lovely drag character, Madame J.J. Walker. I was going to go on and on about, ::cue dramatic music:: THE DRAMATURG, but that’ll have to wait til tomorrow.

Happy Black History Smonth!

Standard
Smash

Musical Notes: Episode 1

Okay.  I might start crying at a few points over the next few paragraphs.  I fucking love the music on Smash.  This is completely unabashed.  There are no abashes here.  Unlike the way I feel about the music on Glee or about my kids, my love for the music on Smash is unconditional.  There.  I said it.

True, I could probs go the rest of my life without hearing “20th Century Fox Mambo” and I imagine when “History Is Made At Night” begins at the inevitable Broadway production (or the production put together in my living room by 6 of my gay friends–everyone is Marilyn), I’ll use that opportunity to find the bathroom. But if you try to tell me that “Let Me Be Your Star” isn’t one of the greatest, most well-constructed musical theater songs of the last decade I will shout you down. I will shout you down like I’m Thaddeus Stevens on the floor of Congress.  What I’m saying, basically, is if you don’t like the music on Smashyou’re racist.

Tommy Lee makes a passionate case for the Hilty Marilyn... and the abolition of slavery, or whatever.

Tommy Lee makes a passionate case for the Hilty Marilyn… and the abolition of slavery, or whatever.

Truth: when I lost my job last year, I listened to “Don’t Forget Me” on repeat for DAYS.  Wandering the streets like Fantine, mouthing the words, raising my arms like Evita.  I put it on my resume.  Not even, like, under special skills.  Like “Here are some lyrics that I feel represent where I am in life right now.”  I highly recommend this as a form of self care.

Legit, Shaiman and Whitman are phenomenal and their songs lifted the sometimes rocky, always ridiculous first season of America’s favorite hour of theater-related television to an impressive level.  The other songs… not so much. Two words: “Redneck Woman”.  That said, I downloaded “I’m Going Down” and “Cheers (I’ll Drink To That)” with a quickness, and, honestly, the latter took place in the single most inexcusably absurd moments in the whole season.

ANYWAY, Season 2 started off on a particularly high note. (see what I did there? I have a degree in English.)

“Cut, Print, Moving On”

Bomb or Bombshell?  Definitely a Bombshell.  But one of fairly little consequence, like Jessica Biel.  Or Jessica Alba.  Or Jessica Tandy.  It’s a whiff, a fleeting aroma; a palate cleanser.  The lyrics work harder than the music, but it does it’s job as a transition song.

I’m guessing that it’s the second act opener and McPhee is giving me hardcore “Thank Goodness” stylings, which is saying something.  I don’t like to come down one way or another in the Who’s Your Marilyn debate, but I think it’s fair to say that Hilty is the better belter and on Broadway, belter’s rule. This song isn’t in McPhee’s wheelhouse, but she sells it to me.

“Mama Makes Three”

Bomb or Bombshell? As you might have guessed from my earlier post this song is EVERYTHING I need it to be!  It’s perfect.  It’s a fantastic song for JHud’s voice, it falls into the grand tradition of Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Smokey Joe’s, it devolves into gospel reverie that could LITERALLY GO ON FOREVER for all I care.

What’s also great about this song is that it tells a story with music and lyrics that are equally clever.  It doesn’t have the burden of doing a lot of Smash-related plot development; it just has to be amazing.  Hilty can take it to church (though, strangely, it was McPhee who actually sang at the church, but whatever), still this show has been missing this level of sass.  LOVED it.

“On Broadway”

Bomb or Bombshell? Hudson hits it out of the park again!  Plus, we get an American Idol reunion (P. to the S., bring on Kelly Clarkson and I will literally wet my pants.)  At first I thought that McPhee was going to be stuck backing JHud up the entire time, which I was totally fine with as JHud was devouring notes and snatches weaves from jump.  That said, it was nice to see Katherine get her “Michelle Williams” moment to shine before being eclipsed once again.

“Don’t Dream It’s Over”

Bomb or Bombshell? I kind of want to say Bomb…ish. Yo, dawg, I love Hilty to bits, but I forgot this song was even on the episode.  It just didn’t do it for me, dawg.  I’m pretty sure I used this montage as an opportunity to get another gallon of ice cream. Plus, I’m really tired of sad Ivy. What purpose is making her miserable serving dramatically?

That said, I think it definitely does it’s job, plot-wise.  Plus, I like that Ivy is singing it at an audition.  So points for song choice.

“Broadway Here I Come”

Bomb or Bombshell? Well, Bomb in that it exploded my ovaries.  Bombshell in that it’s an awesome song, sumptuously sung by Jeremy Jordan.  I’m totally conflicted about his character (and by conflicted I mean I hate the character and want nothing but terrible things to befall him) but this song, this song I’m in love with.  It does such a good job in the plot/character development department, though I am not in love with the fact that it turns Karen into a crazy stalker. Is this the only song in New York?  Really?  And are people calling up Rob Marshall at 4 a.m. going “Listen to 3 bars of this song played on an upright piano in a room with terrible acoustics! Should I reserve the St. James right now or do you want to do that?”  Whatever, Smash; at least you’re pretty.

(Notes on the second half of the episode here.)

Standard
Smash

Was Jenifer Lewis Unavailable?

I would like to now have a symposium about the scene that introduces JHud to Smash and changes everything on Earth for the better.  I am unabashedly a Jennifer Hudson stan from wayback.  I love every damn thing about her.  Every damn thing.  I’m obsessed with Beyonce in a seriously unhealthy way but, magically, there’s a place in my heart that even King B can’t touch.  And in that place JHud lives. Dammit, I’m already digressing.

Anyway, JHud’s character, who probably has a name (Veronica sounds about right, but who cares?  Her name is JHud. Why are we still discussing this?), is introduced singing a huge showstopper from what is supposed to be the Big Broadway SMusical, a concoction called Beautiful… which… is… everything.

Smash 201 Jennifer Hudson

Category is “Everything”. Tens across the board.

Oh, so much!  Here’s 4 things.

1. Apparently it’s set in the 50s and focuses on a singer who has an over-bearing mother.  The actress playing this role is giving hardcore Melba Moore realness, strutting around and pulling all manner of sidelong glances and disapproving lip purses, but I can’t help but miss Jenifer Lewis, star of Jackie’s Back and the resident expert on playing Black Women of  a Certain Age Who Ain’t Got Time For Your Shit.

You might also remember her from What’s Love Got To Do With It  as Tina Turner’s mother (Who Ain’t Got Time For Ike’s Shit), Nora’s Hair Salon as Nora (Who Ain’t Got Time For Your Shitty Weave) or The Princess and the Frog as Mama Odie (Who Ain’t Got Time For No Voodoo Shit).  Anyway, JLew was busy playing an angry receptionist or mean auntie in a Madea movie because the actress playing JHud’s mama in this musical is not her.  But she’s fine.  Smoving on.

2. The song is really quite good, as most of the original songs on Smash are.  There are about 15, 20 Equity dancers in zoot suits and dapper chapeaus flipping, jumping and jiving all over the stage in a way that is positively exhausting.  And then, right in the center, is JHud, hip popped like “I dare you to suggest some choreography.”

I LOVE that she comes from the Mariah Carey school of divas, where the motto engraved above the Aretha Franklin Student Center and Black Box Theater is “If you’re looking for a dancer; you should probably call Alvin Ailey.”

Aretha Franklin works out.

“Miss Franklin is going to need a break to rest after this, thanks.”

These ladies show up, stand up, sing and sit down.  They might give you a hand gesture, but none of that Celine Dion Expressive Stewardess shit.  That costs extra.  

3. Smidway through the song I thought to myself, I’d see this show.  Which is insane because I have no idea what it’s about, how far into the plot this song comes, whether it’s available on TKTS, or who the male lead is (probably Joshua Henry or Brandon Victor Dixon, but what if they make some janky stunt casting choice like when they had Ashanti do The Wiz and it was all I could not to run on stage at the City Center and beat her to a pulp with the lifeless body of her career?  What then?)

Ashanti & the Yellow Brick Road at City Center. :-(

Ashanti & the Yellow Brick Road at City Center. 😦

The poster for this Big Broadway Smusical is so strange to me: it’s just JHud’s HUGE BEAUTIFUL FACE and the word “Beautiful”. Which, now that I think about it, may not even be the name of the show.  It could be a quote from the Times–Isherwood has been especially effusive lately.

It could be the way that you spell Veronica in Smash-world, a crazy mixed up Seussical where Bernadette Peters doesn’t exist, audiences react with stunned silence when the lead dies at the end of an biographical musical about a PERSON WHO IS ALREADY DEAD, and a Broadway veteran who ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE Marilyn Monroe and sings like GD Megan Hilty has to fight for the part of Marilyn against a girl who got off the train from Iowa four minutes ago and was like three minutes away from being sold into White Slavery like that one episode of SVU.  That episode was sad.

Or, it could be just a description of the God’s Honest Truth, Okay?  Anyway, it says Beautiful and I say, “Do you have a Rush Ticket policy?”  Cuz you know I ain’t got no money.

4. There’s a scene, after the musical number, in JHud’s dressing room.  She’s removed her wig to reveal a weave that is so far up her forehead I have no choice but to deem it a Solange.  What is happening here?  Minutes ago she looked perfectly normal, now she’s giving me Myrtle, The Woman Whose Bangs Ran Away From Her Eyebrows.  (That’s a thing that can happen.  I read it.)  ANYWAY.  That’s not even the point.  The point is, after she delivers Katherine McPhee some sage advice whilst applying eye makeup (as you do), she exits the dressing room into a sea of exploding flash bulbs, telling McPhee “Get ready, this will be you soon.”

Question: Who is taking these pictures?  And why do they make flash sounds?  Clearly she is walking into a throng of ladies and gays who have travelled all the way to New York by BUS, singing in harmony from Wicked the entire time (Dreamgirls if they’re black. Into the Woods if they want to be my best friends ever) and they are using their iPhones to take pictures. So whence the flash noises?  Maybe that’s the stage door that leads to a whole in the time space continuum. I mean, it makes sense. She says in the scene prior that she’s about to star in The Wiz and I know from the previews that at some point this season she’s going to sing the signature song from Purlie: clearly nothing of import has happened in Black Musical Theater since 1979.

I wonder if Tyler Perry can sing.

Dancing’s gonna cost you extra, though.

Standard