'Smash' producers develop the TV show's Marilyn Monroe musical 'Bombshell' for Broadway

“Smash,” NBC’s drama tracing the development of a fictional Broadway musical called ‘Bombshell” about screen legend Marilyn Monroe, had a rocky two-season run. But the series had a rabid fan base, which has seemed to multiply since the show left the air in 2013.

Many of those “Smash” fans have wondered if “Bombshell” would ever find life on the Great White Way. Those hopes got a boost when the “Smash” cast performed a concert version of “Bombshell” for a one-night charity event in 2015 at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre in front of a worshipful audience.

Two years later, “Bombshell” looks Broadway-bound for real.

A Broadway production of “Bombshell” is being developed. Craig Zaden and Neil Meron, the award-winning producing team behind the Oscar-winning “Chicago” and NBC’s live versions of “The Sound of Music” and “The Wiz,” are joining forces with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt for the project, with an opening date yet to be determined. Greenblatt has extensive Broadway experience, producing the musicals “"Something Rotten!" and "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder."

Zaden and Meron were among the list of executive producers on “Smash”; they had been recruited by Steven Spielberg, who came up with the original idea of a weekly series that would follow a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe from conception to tryouts to opening and beyond.

In the series, Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) and Christian Borle (“Something Rotten!”) played songwriters who come up with the idea that would become “Bombshell.” Angelica Huston played the producer. “American Idol” alum Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty (“Wicked”) played actresses who compete against each other to play Monroe.

Created by Theresa Rebeck, who also served as showrunner, “Smash” premiered in 2012 to critical praise. The Times’ Mary McNamara called it a “triumph.” But after a strong start, the series ran into rough creative waters, including exaggerated side plots and strange song breaks.

Ratings fell. When “Smash” returned for its second season, Rebeck and a number of characters were gone. But “Smash” still was canceled.

The appetite for the show has never died, Zaden said, and has found new life on Netflix. “It’s more popular now than when it was on the air.”

greg.braxton@latimes.com

Twitter:@GeBraxton

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