That IS showbiz. The frenetic pace, the diva meltdowns, the coddling of the star, the last-minute changes being passed hand-to-hand-to-stage-manager, the lies, the drama, the people whose dreams get crushed as other people’s dreams fly: this is the elating, heartbreaking, devastating, high-roller game people play when they enter that world. They get warned about it and they pretend they are ready for it, but when the tapshoes hit the footlights, and all seems to be going to hell in a hairnet, you remember the most cliched but true theater idiom of all time: the show must go on. How does it? It’s a mystery. But anyone, anyone, who has done anything in theater, will tell you that miraculously, it just DOES.
So, while the theater gods are working their mysterious magic, and the hard decisions get made, and it’s time to take the big blows to the chest, who is man enough for it? It turns out, Derek is. Karen is. Ivy isn’t. Julia and Tom wring their hands and get through.
So, Derek has his own little fever dream, and casts Karen. The hammer hits and the whole company scatters like gnats, while the following happen simultaneously:
- Karen tries to be calm. She appears to be the only calm one.
- Julia goes all mother hen (“SHE NEEDS TO MAKE A PHONE CALL!” she screams in that fabulous Debra Messing-wreck way, reminding us all that we can still like this woman even if her life choices in this show have been alternately boring and terrifying). She also tells her the biggest lie in showbusiness: “Everyone here loves you and wants to see you succeed.” Ha! Not even Tom can sell that as he stands behind her weeping bitter tears for Ivy.
- Derek becomes possessed, answering everyone’s questions and doing everyone’s jobs. “Where’s that wig?” “No phone calls for you!” “Finish your song!” “This is happening whether you like it or not!” Funnily enough, this is literally the best thing he has done for the production since the beginning.
- Ellis seethes and whispers in Ivy’s ear like the smoke monster from Lost.
- In just, precisely, what Ivy needs to hear that moment, she is called to the stage as a “shadow self.” Aw. Literal, much?
- Julia and Tom have retreated to a rain forest to finish their song.
- “We have so much time! We have so much time!” They’re like kids studying for finals.
Back in the house, the Ellis-monster ticker-tacks his way out to the lobby, where the Baroness is telling the Only Theater Reporter Ever (Reidel from the New York Post) about the plot of 42nd Street. “It’s gonna knock everyone’s socks off!” She is then accosted by the tricksy hobbit, wearing his ushery best, where he admits that he was the mastermind behind the Peanut Murder Plot. Then says it’s because he is a producer. OF MURDER.
Hey everyone, did you know I was a billionaire? Oh look! Look at all the money falling around my shoulders! Look at – oh, right. You can’t say a thing and make it happen. Dangit.
“You haven’t heard the last of this,” he says, upon being fired. PRAY GOD we have. Find an actual assistant, would you please, Baroness? Don’t you have a court of loyal subjects waiting?