Sold-out #hitlist at @54below is a SMASH! A @FITNYCPAMELA review – @NBCSmash #nyc @krystar0driguez @jeremymjordan @andymientus @carriemanolakos

Hit List (a musical competing with the musical Bombshell in the NBC show Smash which was cancelled earlier this year) came to life last night at 54 Below in NYC.  And I was lucky enough to be there!

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The tickets sold out for the original performance tonight (12/9), within the hour they went on sale.  54 Studio ended up adding the Sunday night (12/8) show due to popular demand, which also sold out and had a waitlist of 500 people for last night’s show.

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The location was 54 Below, a Broadway Supper Club where Broadway professionals perform on a smaller stage for their fans.  It is a beautiful entertainment venue with an opportunity to see Broadway stars up close and in-person.  The venue was recently renevated and is gorgeous! It has up to three shows nightly as well as a late night lounge and accommodates 144 people in the main dining
room.

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The show didn’t start until almost midnight – which is way past my bedtime.  But I was well-prepared for it with a nap earlier in the day – I am a big fan of the show and had been looking forward to this so I knew what I had to do to stay awake.  The show ran for about an hour and half.

The story of Hit List is amazing.  I have the music downloaded on my ipod to listen to and to run to since it was on the show.  If I remember correctly, the songs were in random order in the show and it wasn’t until last night that they all came together to tell the full story of Hit List. The music is catchy and memorable.  Add in a beyond talented cast and you have got yourself a hit!

The food was great, the venue was spacious for a typcial NYC supper club, they had specialty drinks that involved the Hit List songs and they played songs from Bombshell and Hit List before the show started, which got everyone in the mood and very excited.  It was all very well done.

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They also took your phone numbers when you entered (and you could also send a text to a number to start receiving texts from the show).  They did this on the TV show Smash too with the musical  Hit List.  It was a nice touch to keep it.  So throughout the night, I received text messages that were in the form of social media messages with hashtags, as if it was really happening in live-time.  All with the theme of a Twitter war between the seasoned popstar Diva and the rising popstar Nina Hope (who is really Amanda). Loved it!

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Hit List are songs composed by Jesse (played by Jeremy Jordan) about the people who suck in his life.  The music and the story are AMAZING.  And the cast is so incredibly talented.  This is the receipe for a perfect Broadway show in my book.

Krystal Rodriguez was a standout – what a voice and body on that girl!!! She was great in the show and you can see how she is the talk of the town on Broadway now in First Date.

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I have always been a big fan of Katharine McPhee since her Idol days and loved her in Smash.  She couldn’t make the show, so Carrie Manolakos played the role of Amanda (usually played by McPhee).  She comes from the play Wicked and was very talented.

Andy Mientus and Jeremy Jordan have man chemistry like they do the show (a best friend kind of chemistry) and play really well off of each other. And Jeremy Jordan is extremely handsome in person.

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The original book was by Julia Brownell.   The directors were Joshua Safran (former producer of “Gossip Girl” who came in second season to Smash) and Jennifer Ashley Tepper. Music and lyrics were by Drew Gasparini, Joe Iconis, Andrew McMahon, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman and Lucie Silvas.  The musical director and vocal arrangements were by Benjamin Rauhala and orchestrations were by Charlie Rosen.  The band included Rauhala, Rosen, Shannon Ford, Alisa Horn, Dennis Michael Keefe and Hiroko Taguchi.

All the producers and song writers were in the audience, which was really fun. Everyone was so excited to see all this come together for a few nights.  I felt the talent in the room and all around me.  You could tell there were many proud people who worked hard on Hit List that were there. And it showed!

All my favorite songs were sung and the story was fantastic.  The opening scene has the Diva (Rodriguez), a has-been popstar, that comes to Amanda’s (Manolakos) and Jesse’s (Jordan) concert and shoots Amanda (this is in a flash-forward). Rodriguez is the first person you see who comes out singing an acappella version of “Broadway Here I Come”.

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Amanda is a Columbia graduate living on the Upper East Side with her parents.  She auditions for Broadway with no success and is ready to end it.   (“Good For You” and “Broadway Here I Come”).  She meets a songwriter and recovering addict Jesse and they sing “Re-Write the Story”.

Jesse is in love and he ends up being Amanda’s song writer.

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Amanda wants to be just like the popstar the Diva (Rodriguez) who sings “Reach for Me” at the VMAs.  (“The Love I Meant to Say”, “If I had You” and “Original”).  Amanda steals Jesse’s song sheets and runs away.  She becomes an overnight popstar, named Nina, and uses Jesse’s music to become famous.  Jesse goes out to LA to find Amanda (now Nina) and they sing one of my favorite songs “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream”.

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Jessie ends up agreeing to write music for Nina so she can sign with a music producer. (“Pretender”,”The Guide to Success” and “Don’t Let Me Know”). Nina and the Diva pair up and sing on the VMAs the hit song “I’m Not Sorry” which was fun to hear these two powerhouses sing together as they were in a sing off.

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The Diva decends from fame. Nina becomes famous.  Jesse and Amanda break up and Jesse goes home to his best friend Nick (Mientus).  Nick sings the song “Swim”, which I have never heard before.  It was breathtaking and I can’t wait to download it.  He is quite a talent and I am a new really big fan of him individually.

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They then sing another one of my favs “Caught in the Storm”.

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The Diva, now a nobody, tries to go home to her family and friends, but no one remembers her and her family is gone. She sings “Haddonfield”.

Nina slowly falls from fame and needs Jesse’s music to maintain her success. (“Good for You”).

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Amanda and Jesse reunite and sing another one of my favorites “Heart-Shaped Wreckage”.  Nina becomes Amanda again and her and Jesse work together writing music and performing.  Until the Diva wants revenge and a come-back, and comes to shoot her at a concert. (“The Love I Meant to Say”)

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My favorite part is the last song – “The Goodbye Song”.  The lyrics and song itself are amazing and I loved it on the show.  I run to this regularly.  The whole Smash cast came out into the 54 Below room and sang.  Everyone sang along.  My phone of course died at this point from all the photos I had taken (thanks Apple!).  But it was quite a New York moment.

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The cast received a (well-deserved) standing ovation.

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I would encourage you to go see this show hands-down. However, the only two remaining shows are tonight (7pm and 11pm) and they are sold out.   I would go back again if I could get tickets for tonight!  Let’s hope they make this into a regular Broadway or Off-Broadway show so that this cast and crew and producers can share this awesomeness with as many people as possible.

I have some videos of the night posted on my Instagram account too – Check out @FITNYCPamela to see them!

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