The stars and creators of NBC’s “Smash” reunited for a one-night-only benefit concert at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre on June 8.
Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Will Chase and Christian Borle were just some of the “Smash” alums who performed the score to “Bombshell,” the fictional Marilyn Monroe musical at the center of “Smash.”
“The Mysteries of Laura” star Debra Messing was on hand too, hosting the evening alongside Borle. The two played the fictional songwriting team of Levitt and Houston on the NBC series, and introduced many of the performances using actual words from Marilyn and the people who knew her.
“Unfortunately, I am still working on the book,” cracked Messing, whose character on “Smash” had struggled throughout the series to complete the “Bombshell” scenes.
McPhee and Hilty opened the show with their rousing take on “Let Me Be Your Star.” The two actresses, whose characters on “Smash” were competing for the role of Marilyn, traded off songs throughout the evening -- McPhee dancing her way through “The 20th Century Fox Mambo” and Hilty bumping and grinding through “The National Pastime.”
The two also each had their turn at some of the show’s most emotional ballads, with McPhee taking on “Never Give All the Heart” and “Don’t Forget Me” and “Second Hand White Baby Grand” and “They Just Keep Moving the Line” (Hilty).
Will Chase (TV’s “Nashville”) joined Hilty for two duets -- “History Is Made at Night” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” The actor, who played Joe DiMaggio in “Bombshell,” also had a solo turn, singing the emotional “On Lexington & 52nd Street.”
Borle, who took home his second Tony on Sunday night for his role in “Something Rotten!”, performed “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking” alongside a sea of chorus boys in bath towels. The scene takes place in the locker room, where legendary producer Darryl Zanuck held many of his business meetings.
The wealth was spread beyond McPhee, Hilty, Chase and Borle, with other “Smash” regulars performing the “Bombshell” score. “The Last Five Years” film star Jeremy Jordan belted his way through the Act II opener “Cut, Print… Moving On.” Fan favorite Ann Harada (“Avenue Q,” “Cinderella”), who played stage manager Linda, finally got her turn at the mic, bringing down the house in “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl.”
Tony nominee Brian d’Arcy James (“Something Rotten!”), Wesley Taylor ("The Addams Family") and Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Hamilton”) also performed. Even “Smash” villain Ellis (Jaime Cepero) made an appearance -- to a mixture of applause and boos from the audience.
The men of "Smash" all posed for a picture they shared on Instagram backstage (below).
Notably absent from the benefit? Jack Davenport and Anjelica Huston, who played the director and producer of “Bombshell” on “Smash.” Bernadette Peters was also missing, though her character’s songs were performed by “A Chorus Line” original Donna McKechnie.
All 19 songs at that made up the score to “Bombshell” were written by Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray,” “Catch Me If You Can”). The duo told NBC New York that “the best part of ‘Smash’ was always the music, the cast, and being in the rehearsal studio, so putting together this evening was a real thrill.”
Not all songs from “Bombshell” seen on “Smash” made it to the live concert. “Dig Deep, "Our Little Secret" and the title song “Smash” were all cut from the benefit.
Wittman co-directed the evening, alongside choreographer Joshua Bergasse (“On the Town”), who restaged his Emmy-winning “Smash” numbers. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the original TV series, also produced the benefit. They’re hard at work on NBC’s upcoming live production of “The Wiz.”
“'Smash' was an incredibly, incredibly wonderful thing to all of us,” said Messing. “And having you all here tonight who loved it as well, it’s just a wonderful validation, not only for the actors, but also the creator, Teresa Rebeck.”
The benefit was funded by the most successful theater Kickstarter campaign ever. Looking to cover the $50,000 production cost, the campaign reportedly ended up raising over $200,000 in just 18 hours. In the end 1,485 backers pledged $318,120 to help bring “Bombshell” to life.
“Maybe if NBC had used Kickstarter instead of sponsors, we’d still be on the air right now,” Messing joked.
All proceeds of "Bombshell" benefited the non-profit organization The Actors Fund, a “national human services organization” that, for 133 years, has provided social services, emergency financial assistance, health care, insurance counseling and more to more than 21,000 theater professionals each year.
As for a life for “Bombshell” beyond this benefit concert, Shaiman told NBC New York. “That’s a decision up for others to make.” He and Wittman, in the meantime, are just happy everyone got to experience this celebration. “I hate this word on Facebook," Shaiman said through tears, "but we are so blessed."