My musical theatre-loving self cannot be bothered on Saturday nights when the newest episode of SMASH comes on. This was especially true for last night’s latest installment of the series.
After the previous week’s cliffhanger, we were left wondering the fate of Kyle, the show’s lovable, goofy, wide-eyed dreamer. In last minute of the show he both, sung the most beautiful solo, and stepped off the curb into the most heart-wrenching flash of white light.
Everybody loves Kyle, I thought, they can’t kill him off.
Needless to say last night’s episode came as a bit of a shock. The whole hour was dedicated to Kyle and his legacy as a young playwright and co-creator of ‘Hit List,’ after confirming he was, indeed, dead after being hit by a car.
Following the episode’s premiere, the writers and star, Andy Mientus, came out explaining the character of Kyle and his tragic death at such a young age. The plot was modeled after the career and life of Jonathan Larson, author and composer of Rent, who died at the tender age of 35 of an aortic dissection. You have to admit the similar feel of the shows Rent and Hit List, and the parallel of these two genius playwrights.
At first I was extremely upset over the death of Kyle. But then, when you take a step back and look at it, life isn’t always like a musical. Good does not always prevail over evil, the power of song cannot awaken the dead.
That’s why we go to musicals, to escape the messy complexities of real life for an hour or two, and to, hopefully, see a happy ending.
But, some aren’t like that. Some musicals, like Rent and Hit List, are blunt, real and groundbreaking. They talk about death, relationships, and life in a way that makes some uneducated audiences uncomfortable. Like these productions, SMASH showed us in this episode life’s not-so-silver-linings.
Yet, it also showed a full “satisfying arc” of a character. As explained by writers,
“In the last three or four episodes, Kyle has really come into his own and gotten interesting. He went from a hapless writer to finding his stride professionally. He went from fawning without any hope over Jimmy to having a relationship with Blake the lighting guy, and then having an affair with Tom on the side. And he finally stood up to Jimmy as his final act.”
His life mirrors that of a tragic Shakespearean play. In a way, Kyle felt full circle and completed as a character…with a tribute as wonderful as he.
No, they couldn’t get every Broadway theatre in town to dim their lights in memoriam. But, through the heart-felt flashbacks (my favorite being when Tom serenaded Kyle) to the darkening of Bombshell’s marquee, the show demonstrated how even the smallest life can touch the lives of many. It proved through the popularity of Hit List and Jimmy’s change of heart, how someone’s legacy (no matter how old or young, big or small) can impact the world.
So, yes, “Sometimes the truth is too hard. Sometimes you want to remember things better than they actually were.”
And sometimes you have to realize it’s just the truth…”because that’s the way it happens.”
In any case, I am bummed I will no longer see the talented Andy Mientus on my TV every week. But, after such a fitting and symbolic tribute episode (the most beautiful episode SMASH has ever done in my opinion), all I can think is…what a way to go.
Break a Leg…
“Slow down you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart tell me,
Why are you still so afraid?…
You got your passion, you got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?”