"Bombshell" is NOT "Glee" for adults. It aims higher and succeeds better. In fact, it supasses a lot of Broadway musicals, both recent and from the past, distant and otherwise. But that does not make it perfect.
Starting with the petty stuff - it needs a much more solid male lead. These guys sound like kids, not the men that Marilyn dated, married, and left. As a result, the balance is way off. It is off, too, because Marilyn sings too much. Less is more, folks. On Broadway at least four of her songs would be dropped and more effort spent on the ending. Some great songs have been dropped from Broadway shows only to gain a life of their own. Dropping them does not mean that they are bad, but that there really is no honest place for them - consider Porter's "From This Moment On" - he loved it but it took the MGM movie to transfer it from one show to another and make it a standard.
And where's the fabulous hit number that every Broadway show strives for? No number here would get an audience out of their seats to applaud for a minute or two, or cheer for a reprise.In part because this is a TV show that can't forget that; in part because the producers haven't the guts to go all out on at least one number. "Diamonds Are a Girls's Best Friend" is a mediocre number, but who cares? It is done with such flash, humour, and 'break the bank' expense that it is a classic.Only Marge Champion's solo in "Three for the Show" even tries for the same effect...and almost gets it.
Now,back to MGM for a moment...most of the orchestrations and scoring sound like MGM and not 20th Century Fox which seldom knew how to make a musical - "There's No Business like Show Business" is downright bad. "Gentlemen prefer Blondes" should have stayed at MGM. Why oh why did Clark Gable refuse to play opposite Jane Russell? Was the part too small? And imagine Jack Lemmon opposite Monroe. But Gable was stubborn and eventually the movie changed lots, and got somewhat torpedoed. But this is small stuff since MGM orchestrations always sounded better than those from 20th, and some clearly made the journey.At least Paramount treated "Funny Face" with tender care after having Hepburn insist that she wouldn't work at MGM after "Green Mansions". (Some books should never EVER be filmed!)
Back to "Bombshell". What is here is, despite the minor problems, pretty damn good. Only "Leap of Faith" on Broadway came off better, and it died far too fast. Hmmmm...Raul Esparza as a guest star on "Smash" for a month or so....the heart beats faster and the mind sizzles. Why not? The show deserves him and he's the only actor-singer working Broadway now with the power to hold his own with these ladies...if not wipe them out if they get lazy.
I won't single out any song as better than the others. There isn't a bad song in the group, just a few that don't pull their weight. And that's true of any show. For example, "It Only Takes a Moment" is a very, very good song. But it brings "Dolly" to a crashing halt just when it should soar. "Kiss Her Now" from "Dear World" is a great song that someone threw away, though it is twice as good as the next best song in that Jerry Herman score. No, I'm wrong - it is four times as good as any other.
So is "Bombshell" worth buying even if it didn't come from Broadway? Yes. Definitely yes. Now, if only Ms Messing and Ms Huston could be given a song each...or a duet - "There's Always a Woman"?
Let it be a dream sequence if necessary. The women are a major reason for our watching the show. They do their 'straight' parts with panache. But even if they are tone-deaf - give them a song!Messing is one of the finest comic actors working today. No matter what happens in the song, we will love her. Huston has more class in a fingernail than many major stars have in their entire being; Give her a song - think of the best that Lauren Bacall had in "Applause" (not the worst or you'll need a brain washing.)
And here's hoping thet Season Three shows a few of "Bombshell"'s numbers getting the axe and being replaced with a show-stopper or two.
Hmmmm, has a television musical ever made a succesful leap to Broadway? This could be the best try-out in history.