How a Song From Smash Ended Up in Broadway's Some Like It Hot | Playbill

Broadway News How a Song From Smash Ended Up in Broadway's Some Like It Hot

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman reveal the story behind their new "Let's Be Bad" rewrite and if we can expect it in a future stage adaptation of Smash.

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman Heather Gershonowitz

Smash fans, get excited, because Bombshell is on Broadway at last—well, at least part of it. Smash and Some Like It Hot songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have given one song written for the fictional Marilyn Monroe musical, "Let's Be Bad," its official Broadway debut interpolated into the score of Some Like It Hot. The duo revealed the news on social media, but we had to know more.

Inspired by the French film Fanfare of Love, Some Like It Hot follows two Prohibition-era jazz musicians in Chicago who witness a mob hit and go into hiding by disguising themselves as members of an all-female band. Through their escape plot, the two become enamored with the band's singer and ukulele player, Sugar. In its new context, "Let's Be Bad" is sung by the girls of the band.

"We had a song called 'The Good Neighbor Policy' for the girls' 'post curfew' trip to Mexico. After two readings, [director] Casey [Nicholaw] said he thought it was too polite and wondered if we could write a new song that was a little sexier," shares Shaiman and Wittman in a joint statement to Playbill.

"We went home and tried to think of ways to say, as Cole Porter once put it, 'Let’s Misbehave.' As we threw around phrases and rhythms, we both finally looked up and said, 'We already wrote this song!' And that song would be 'Let’s Be Bad' from Smash, which was written as an imagined song Marilyn might have sung in Some Like It Hot."

There's an interesting bit of overlap in Shaiman and Wittman's involvement with both Smash and Some Like It Hot. The former tracked a fictional biomusical about screen legend Marilyn Monroe, who starred in the film that their Some Like It Hot is based on, though the new stage adaptation is far from a straight transfer from the screen. Monroe's character Sugar has been reimagined in this new musical as a 1930s Black jazz singer, with Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin's book removing any expectation for her to look, sound, or act anything like the legendary actor. That meant that "Let's Be Bad" couldn't just be placed into Some Like It Hot without a little re-working.

"For Smash, it is played as a nervous breakdown as Marilyn acts out due to all her frustrations. So for our Some Like It Hot, we needed to write new lyrics to be more playful, to be sung by Osgood Fielding III, the ladies of the band, and Daphne. Some of the Smash lyrics that applied remain, but most of the lyrics are brand spanking new."

Now, of course, we know a stage adaptation of Smash is in the works. Does that mean that "Let's Be Bad" is out of the running for that project? Not so fast, says Shaiman and Wittman. "So, in the new play about a musical that the stage version of Smash is shaping up to be, the song will be very differently sung, arranged, staged, and orchestrated than it is in Some Like It Hot. It’s like a case of theatrical re-gifting! We should only be so lucky to have both versions of the song playing on Broadway at the same time!"

Some Like It Hot is currently in previews at Broadway's Sam S. Shubert Theatre with opening night set for December 11. Leading the cast are Christian Borle as Joe/Josephine, J. Harrison Ghee as Jerry/Daphne, Adrianna Hicks as Sugar, Kevin Del Aguila as Osgood, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Sweet Sue, Adam Heller as Mulligan, and Mark Lotito as Spats, with Casey Nicholaw directing and choreographing.

Photos: Some Like It Hot on Broadway

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