It is 24 hours before the workshop takes place and everyone involved in Marilyn the Musical is feeling the stress, including the studio itself as it seems the boiler isn’t working, making it entirely too hot inside. The heat doesn’t dissipate once Michael and Julia meet up either, getting caught in close quarters by her writing partner Tom and, once again, being spied on by Ellis.
Meanwhile, Karen arrives at one of Bobby Raskin’s (the Tommy Matola guy who heard her sing at the bar mitzvah last week) studios to record a demo where she sings “Brighter Than the Sun” and wins over the sound engineer. And then just as soon as she gets to the studio for final rehearsal before the workshop, she is summoned back to the recording studio; but before she can leave, Ivy arrives with her Broadway and Tony-winning mother Leigh Conroy (guest star Bernadette Peters), who is asked to perform for everyone. She compiles much to Ivy’s dismay, singing “Everything Is Coming up Roses”. Regardless of Leigh’s rousing performance and the kudos she receives from the entire ensemble, Derek and Julia see that Ivy is ill-at-ease and for once Derek gives Ivy a compliment – long in coming, dude!
Things get even more complicated when Michael’s wife and young son arrive to watch daddy perform; and this upset Julia, sending her out of the building with Tom hot on her heels. She is visibly shaken and Tom quickly figures out that Julia slept with Michael. Despite the bad timing of her leaving, Julia heads home simply because she cannot handle Michael’s family being at rehearsals. Derek is none too pleased when he learns that Julia has left because the dialogue still needs work and they are down to the wire.
It is at this time that Ellis takes the risk to tell Eileen about Julia and Michael’s affair; thankfully Eileen nips that little tattle-tale in the bud, warning him that if he ever speaks of that again she will make sure he never works in that town again. Yes, thank you Eileen!
But all is not well at home for Julia, as she finds Leo with one of his drug-addled friends smoking weed in his room; and while Leo doesn’t come clean with his mother about what he saw, he does let her know he is aware of her affair and the complications just build for Julia.
Things for Ivy aren’t much better because her mother is still being a diva – at least in her eyes – making it clear in Ivy’s eyes that she is going to have a hard time pulling off Marilyn in the musical so she takes the sleeping pills she was given even though she was hesitant to take those on top of the prednisone she is already taken for her vocal cord stress.
Remarkably, Eileen and Ellis are at the same small bar from last week, talking with Nick the bartender about the studio’s heating problems. Nick informs Eileen that one of the tenants who live above the bar is a plumber and enlists his help (but more on that shortly).
The big day arrives with family and friends of the principal players as well as the illustrious bigwigs for whom Eileen is counting on for money and good reviews show up for the workshop. Before the numbers get underway, Julia breaks it off with Michael; Tom is unsure about his burgeoning relationship with John; Tom gives Ivy a much-needed pep talk and the plumber is still working hard to reduce the heat inside the building and the script still needs work.
Soon enough the workshop gets underway and we are given glimpses of many of the scenes that have played out before, including the numbers “Let Me Be Your Star”, “20th Century Fox Mambo”, “History is Made at Night” and “The National Pastime” as well as a new number “Lexington and 52nd Street”. During the workshop performance we see flashbacks of scenes from the cast and ensemble rehearsing these numbers before interspersed with new scenes of them acting it out for the workshop audience. Just as the workshop nearly comes to an end the air conditioning finally turns on, providing some much needed comfort, but it might be too little too late. That certainly seems to be the case when Derek, Eileen, Tom and Julia gather to read comments about the workshop, not all of which are positive. Fingers are pointed by all four with Michael, unfortunately, ending up as the scapegoat for all their troubles. As Julia tells Leo – once she is home – Michael is being fired and Leo breaks down (for more reasons that just one).
It should also be noted that Karen was called back, yet again, by Raskin’s office. But, she skips the meeting to stay for the workshop. She tells the other ensemble members that she just cannot give up on the workshop since she gave her word that she would participate. Just how that will affect her immediate future is yet to be seen.
In the end, Ivy’s mother admits that she truly does believe her daughter is a star, something that Ivy has obviously needed to hear for a very long time; but as any mother would worry, Leigh is concerned that her daughter will be hurt just because that is the nature of the beast on Broadway.
Finally getting to see more of the musical played out was rewarding and hearing the musical numbers was rewarding; but less needs to be focused on Michael and Julia and the ongoing romantic entanglements and more on the musical – but that’s just my opinion.
“The Workshop” is the seventh episode of the new series Smash on NBC. The next new episode of Smash will air Monday, March 26 at10/9c.
What did you think of this episode? Were you pleased to see Bernadette Peters as Ivy’s mom? Did you enjoy finally getting to see more of the musical and hear the songs? What are your thoughts on what Ellis will do next? Do you think we will see more of Nick the bartender? What about Karen and her decision to not meet with Raskin? Were you pleased to see Julia end her affair with Michael? Please share your thoughts on this episode in our comments section below.