It’s going to be a ‘Smash’

Katharine McPhee

It’s not easy producing a Broadway hit, let alone actually getting your musical to the stage in the first place. There’s inherent drama in the process — but who knew it would make for such fascinating television?

In NBC’s “Smash,” a successful songwriting duo attempts to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Meet the schemers and dreamers who share the stage.

The role: Ivy

AKA: Marilyn Monroe hopeful No. 1
Played by: Broadway star Megan Hilty
About Ivy: Ivy is a New York stage veteran waiting for her big break to move from chorus girl to star.
Her thoughts: How authentic is “Smash” to life on the Broadway stage? Very, says Hilty. “I think the genius of making this idea into a series is that when you are a live performer, you’re giving so much of yourself and there’s so much at stake when you’re exposing yourself in front of hundreds of thousands of people,” she says. “It naturally sets the tone and sets the stage for high drama. This show definitely taps into all of those things.”

The role: Karen

AKA: Marilyn Monroe hopeful No. 2
Played by: “American Idol” star Katharine McPhee
About Karen: Karen is a sweet Midwestern girl trying to make it big in NYC.  
Her thoughts: She may be singing on television again, but filming a drama is a lot different from McPhee’s days on “Idol.” “I’m usually singing songs that I’m hearing for the first time,” she admits. “It’s such a fast pace that we’re on, and you don’t get a whole lot of time to sit with the songs and perfect them. And it is different because, for me, I think of myself as more of a pop artist — and Megan has got, like, the big Broadway voice. So I’m always trying to balance the two.”

The roles: Julia and Tom

AKA: Marilyn Monroe musical creators
Played by: Debra Messing and Christian Borle
About Julia and Tom: Julia was going to take time off from writing with Tom
to adopt a child, but now that the inspiration for a Marilyn musical has hit, she’s going to try juggling both dreams.
Their thoughts: “Here is a woman who is very passionate about her creative life and needs that part of her life fulfilled, but also really is a proud mother and wants that home life — and wants that balance,” says Messing. “And I love that nothing is simple.”


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