Smash 1.6 – Chemistry

Ivy primps in front of her mirror and does a breathy run through of “Let Me Be Your Star” before her voice cracks. Derek, asleep in the bed behind her, harkens at the first sound of pitchiness. Ivy assures Derek she’s fine and they snuggle.

At the rehearsal hall, Julia attempts to rearrange scenes like a harried florist with a particularly recalcitrant Rhododendron.  Derek harrumphs that it’s a musical, dammit, not a high school science project (which is a good thing; I don’t think Julia could even get a Chia pet to sprout at this point) and Julia counters that it’s a workshop, and a first workshop at that. Derek is baffled at Julia’s naiveté and points out that it’s a workshop investors are coming to see, and there’s no discernible story for 25 pages. (I, myself, would have called that a teen-baiting homage to Twilight, but something tells me Derek’s not a fan.)

Julia blames vague personal problems, Derek so doesn’t care and then suddenly he’s the biggest fan Tom ever had, because Tom has all of his music written, why can’t Julia be like Tom? Tom refuses to be Derek’s cudgel and storms off. Ellis slinks off as well to Renfield all he has heard to his Dark Mistress, that is, Eileen.

Eileen sweeps into rehearsal with Ellis in tow to get an earful of Ivy croaking through a number like the least funny Budweiser commercial ever. Ivy is whisked off to Tom’s disco pharmacologist and diagnosed with an inflamed throat. Derek shrugs and says she’ll just take Prednisone, but Tom informs him that she’s hypersensitive to drugs and is going to just try giving her throat rest (ahh…methinks I know why Derek is really pushing the drugs). Derek suggests postponing the workshop, but Eileen, the least naïve of them all, boggles that they could even consider having investors rearrange their calendars when she’s called in every favor she has to get them on the calendar in the first place.

Karen, hidden behind the piano by virtue of a gratuitously exploding dance bag, overhears Derek wonder about the possibility of their “other” Marilyn. While Karen clutches her pearls and her every dream to her throat, Julia worries about Karen even being able to learn the dances and songs in a week and Tom, Ivy’s white knight, warns Derek to not even breathe a word of that suggestion to Ivy, since stress plays a big part in vocal problems.

Derek, of course, hies off to Ivy to tell her that very thing. Ivy waves away Derek’s concern, explaining that it’s just stress and strain and after some tea and rest she’ll be fine. Derek tries to get her to give Prednisone a try, everyone’s doing it, but Ivy worries about the side effects. Derek sagely points out that she’s in musical theater, which is rife with side effects…off-seasons at Opryland, surrounded by hot men who look better in your costume than you do, knowing your next big role will most likely be something by Pixar…but it’s not until he dangles the threat of Marilyn! starring Karen Cartwright that Ivy gargles the prescription bottle like she’s Marilyn getting ready for a weekend at Kennebunkport.

Julia relives kissing Michael as she burns pancakes and continues to write absolutely nothing. Leo glowers silently at the pancakes and his mother, but is interrupted mid-shunning by the return of his dad, Frank. Julia throws herself at Frank and his handsome visage and his super adorable periodic table flashcards. Yeah, she’s not obvious at all.

Ivy, dosed to the vocal chords, arrives at rehearsal and tells Derek she took the meds and now has a spankin’ new set of cold sweats, headaches and panic attacks. Yes, yes, Derek waves off, but how is your voice? I’m sure I’m supposed to feel horror at his indifference, but I’ve seen worse show-pony criticism on an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras and am more jaded and apathetic than a fifth grader after 20 hours of Grand Theft Auto. Derek waves yet another threat of Karen in Marilyn’s fuzzy sweaters and Ivy is suddenly Maria Callas (literally) on steroids.

Chorus girl Jessica offers Karen a bar mitzvah gig Ivy had passed over that pays $500 and Karen, eager to pay off a credit card bill smaller than I had as a college freshman in Oklahoma, eagerly jumps at the chance to Google the words to “Hava Nagila.”

Ellis offers his services to Eileen which will include being her eyes and ears in rehearsal, apparently, and aren’t limited to un-licensed apartment brokering and dive bar video game lessons.

Julia confesses to Tom that she kissed Michael, and Tom asks won’t she please think of the children? She informs him that Michael sang “A Song for You” to her and Tom recants, admitting he would have kissed him, as well. As for Julia’s attempt to deflect to Tom’s love life, things are going okay with John, and Tom will even be meeting John’s bland friends for pretentious appetizers later.

Ivy rests her throat by singing Jessie J’s “Who You Are” into her hairbrush and then hallucinates Karen-as-Marilyn chastising her from the mirror. Karen as Marilyn looks like Georgette from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I realize that’s a pre-internet reference, but Google it – freaky. Karen’s Marilyn isn’t bad, she’s just be-wigged that way.

Tom is saved from the investment chat at John’s party by a freak-out call from Ivy. Tom comes to the rescue to scare any apparitions or evil queens from Ivy’s mirror, and speaking of, hey, there’s Sam! The one-note joke about Sam being a gay Broadway dancer who happens to be a sports fan is so one-note that Ivy could sing it without the Prednisone.

Michael calls Julia at home and Frank answers. Julia rips the phone out of Frank’s hand before he can even invite Michael over for a brewskie and hightails it for the terrace where she has a pace-filled, hushed phone conversation with several repeated looks over her shoulder. She might as well be wearing a scarlet button that reads, “I’m unfaithful – ask me how!”

Karen arrives late to the bar mitzvah, fumbles the Yiddish-to-Iowan app on her i-Phone, gets a text from Tom saying they may need her help and discretion (huzzah!), a second text of never mind (woe!), and then ends on a belting version of Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out” that gets all the thirteen-year-olds rushing the stage and waving praise arms like they’re at church camp (which is a really weird image for a bar mitzvah). Today you are a man! She doesn’t get a tip, but she does get a business card from somebody who knows somebody.

Julia has writer’s block and tells Frank that she’s just going for a walk, like she does. You know. When she has writer’s block. Nothing to see here, just walking. So…she’s going now. For that walk.  She walks right to the rehearsal hall to meet Michael. Of course, she only came to tell him not to contact her anymore, no more calls or texts at home or requests to meet after work. She wants to get through to him, which is why she had to meet him in the deserted rehearsal hall, braless in a pajama top. Michael tells her they’ll just look at each other, and that he’ll only touch her pajama top. Oh, please, Julia! I saw through that at fourteen at a church lock-in, what the hell is wrong…oh. You totally went there expecting that to happen. Boy, is my face red. Michael tells her no one has to know and suddenly they’re using rehearsal props for things they probably haven’t been used for since the last time Derek took Ivy on a “date.”

Rehearsal the next day: Ivy tells Derek she’s fine, her voice is fine, everything is ring-a-ding-fuckity-fine because Tom and Sam took care of her, because they love her. Derek’s answering, “Wonderful” is so dry I need tea and Prednisone to type it.

Karen shows Jessica the business card she received in lieu of a tip and Jessica goggles, because it’s from THE Bobby Raskin! He’s like Tommy Mottola – but fictional! Gleeful, Karen calls to make his acquaintance while Ivy fumes that she passed up a business opportunity gleaned at a bar mitzvah. Yeah, if you think I’m going to make an industry joke there, you’re meshugana.

Michael and Julia beam at each other, still awash in afterglow (hope they de-glowed the couch when they were done) and Julia’s muse was jump-started *cough* enough to finish the lyrics for “History is Made at Night” (alas, poor subtlety, we hardly knew ye).

Ivy and Michael set said couch to rocking as they go through the number and it’s going well until Ivy stumbles. She and Michael laugh until Derek Downer makes a weary plea for professionalism. Ivy loses her religion and Derek informs her he would like to see something resembling sex from the number. Ivy snipes that she can do sex with a very significant look (subtlety: risen from the grave and staked!) and Derek agrees, but this time he’d like some singing with it.  Julia tries to intervene by apologizing that they didn’t have more time with the new lyrics, but Ivy projects to the rafters that she doesn’t need more time, she needs to stop sleeping with men who are narcissistic pricks! As she wafts Chanel No. 5 in her wake, she informs Derek that he’s NOT that good looking and NOT that good in bed, either! Derek is suddenly proselytizing the hallucinogenic properties of Prednisone to the assembled Company.

Eileen misses the big meltdown, since Ellis is slinging back $7 martinis with her at Bushwack and this time they’ve invited Ralph, the Broadway investor. Ralph is sold on Eileen’s new joie de vive (blame it on the Tanqueray) and pencils in workshop into his calendar. Eileen and the camera linger on the handsome barkeep (One Life to Live’s Thorsten Kaye! Yeah, I didn’t have to Google that…) and suggests with a wink that he pour himself a martini on her. Ms. Huston, ladies and gentlemen!