'Smash's' Christian Borle: Expect show to be 'rebooted' in Season 2
NEW YORK -- "Smash" fans wondering how the departure of show-runner Theresa Rebeck will affect the drama's second season could get an inkling of the changes by listening to Christian Borle, the actor who plays Broadway composer Tom Levitt on the NBC series.
"I just met [new show-runner] Josh Safran for the first time last week and kind of heard what was on the docket, and it's going to be a totally different ... show," Borle told Show Tracker, alluding to Rebeck's replacement as he used a profanity for emphasis. "The show is almost getting rebooted."
Borle said many of the changes to the show, whose season finale airs Monday night, are still taking shape, but one shift he's certain of -- and excited about -- is a deeper exploration of the things that go into staging a Broadway musical.
"What I think is going to happen with Season 2 is that it's actually going to delve more into the process of the creation and what the writing partnership is, the nuts and bolts of that room," he said. "We looked at it briefly in Season 1 but didn't really; it was kind of, in a way, a shorthand to get us to the next event."
The series has tried to strike a balance between depicting the creative process behind the show and showing the relationship shenanigans of those putting it on, with some viewers criticizing writers for overly soapy developments in the latter category.
Borle was having a snack at a diner down the street from the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where he is logging as many as two performances daily of "Peter and the Starcatcher," his antic show about pirates and Peter Pan.
Despite the Broadway setting for "Smash," fans of the series get to see a different side of the 38-year-old in "Starcatcher," in which he plays Black Stache, a wisecrack-prone, over-the-top-villain with a penchant for physical comedy. (More on Borle's evolving dual-track career -- he just received his second career Tony nomination for the role -- on our sister blog Culture Monster shortly.)
For all the strong reviews of "Starcatcher," Borle's fictitious Broadway production on "Smash" has weathered criticisms, mainly from people who believe that it takes too many liberties with how a show actually gets put together.
"I've been interested to hear what people's thoughts have been. Some people's criticisms are valid and some people's, to my taste, are not," he said, smiling as he declined to elaborate further. "But it comes back to the same thing as a medical drama or a courtroom drama or a cop show. It's television -- you have to take leaps or people are not going to care."
Still, he did imagine the theater-making aspects that are evolving for the fall.
"What's true about Season 2 is that there's still a core group of people who ... love the theater and want to continue to talk about it as honestly and as truly as possible. But the mechanics are going to change. We shall see if it's for the better."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Christian Borle and Anjelica Houston in "Smash." Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times