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'Smash' recap: Episode 4, 'The Cost of Art'

More singing, more dancing, and a guest appearance by Nick Jonas kept me interested in the fourth episode of"Smash" -- but the continued lackluster performances of Katherine McPhee's Karen make it hard to root for her over casting-couch Ivy (Megan Hilty).

The workshop for "Marilyn the Musical" finally gets under way, fueling Karen and Ivy’s growing rivalry. Ivy stays true to the character she’s set to play and is the last to arrive on day one of rehearsal. However, her confidence and star power immediately take a hit upon learning Karen has been cast in the ensemble. She stumbles through a few takes and complains Karen’s singing and dancing are overpowering. Derek tells Ivy not to worry, because she has the lead role. But their aside chats make it obvious to other cast members that the two are sleeping together.

“I could have done that,” says Karen, who’s convinced Ivy is trying to get her kicked out of the show. The other ensemble members don’t take too well to Karen, either. She’s a newbie and her eagerness annoys them, understandably so. It’s so hard to root for her over Ivy. Karen’s voice is stellar, but she’s boring and her performances are lackluster.

Meanwhile, Eileen hits another brick wall trying to access the $200,000 to fund the show. She tries to hawk an original Degas for the money, but alas, the sketch is in her husband’s name as well.  It’s so hard being married to a rich bastard. We don’t see her soon-to-be ex-husband this episode, so the drink-in-the-face count remains the same. 

Eileen finds a solution to her problem in the form of a Jonas Brother. Nick Jonas guest stars as Lyle West, a super-rich young star, who Tom and Derek both claim to have discovered. While he’s in town, Derek throws West a party. A lot of potential investors are in attendance, but ultimately it’s West who ends up getting Eileen the money she needs.

While Ivy is entertaining the bigwigs at West’s party, Karen’s new “frenemies” from the ensemble try to give her a makeover.  A few dance tutorials and a shopping trip later, and the four are up on the stage at a bar singing Adele’s “Rumor Has It.” It was a half-decent performance, but the whole predictability of the scene left much to be desired.  In last week’s episode, Karen’s friends called her "Broadway." This week, her new friends refer to her as "Iowa." I’m really going to need the show writers to be a bit more creative.

The episode closes with Derek convincing Ivy that he’s not a player, just a smart businessman.  The awkward exchanges between Michael and Julia continue, as does the shared loathing between Ellis and Julia. Tom couldn't care less, as he’s preoccupied with the handsome banker he met through his mom.

If you’re hoping to catch some real behind-the-scenes Broadway drama, it may come next week when Karen brings her “A” game and newly discovered  assertiveness to workshop rehearsal.

Best musical number:  “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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