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‘Smash’ producers develop the TV show ‘Bombshell’ for Broadway

The fictional Broadway musical about screen legend Marilyn Monroe is now a reality

Image Credit: Supplied
Katharine Mcphee

Smash, NBC’s drama tracing the development of a fictional Broadway musical called Bombshell about screen legend Marilyn Monroe, had a rocky two-season run. But the series had a rabid fan base, which has seemed to multiply since the show left the air in 2013.

Many of those Smash fans have wondered if Bombshell would ever find life on Broadway. Those hopes got a boost when the Smash cast performed a concert version of Bombshell for a one-night charity event in 2015 at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre in front of a worshipful audience.

Two years later, Bombshell looks Broadway-bound for real.

A Broadway production of Bombshell is being developed. Craig Zaden and Neil Meron, the award-winning producing team behind the Oscar-winning Chicago and NBC’s live versions of The Sound of Music and The Wiz, are joining forces with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt for the project, with an opening date yet to be determined. Greenblatt has extensive Broadway experience, producing the musicals Something Rotten! and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.

Zaden and Meron were among the list of executive producers on Smash; they had been recruited by Steven Spielberg, who came up with the original idea of a weekly series that would follow a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe from conception to tryouts to opening and beyond.

In the series, Debra Messing (Will & Grace) and Christian Borle (Something Rotten!) played songwriters who come up with the idea that would become Bombshell. Angelica Huston played the producer. American Idol alum Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty (Wicked) played actresses who compete against each other to play Monroe.

Created by Theresa Rebeck, who also served as showrunner, Smash premiered in 2012 to critical praise. The Los Angeles Times Mary McNamara called it a “triumph.” But after a strong start, the series ran into rough creative waters, including exaggerated side plots and strange song breaks.

Ratings fell. When Smash returned for its second season, Rebeck and a number of characters were gone. But Smash still was cancelled.

The appetite for the show has never died, Zaden said, and has found new life on Netflix. “It’s more popular now than when it was on the air.”