"Smash" Rivals Talk Broadway Vs. Pop
“Smash”, the new Broadway hopeful show on NBC was the brainchild of mega-director/producer Steven Spielberg. If you’ve ever wanted to sing and wow an audience you can identify with Karen (McPhee) and Ivy (Hilty), two talented girls; one a newbie from Iowa, the other already experienced on Broadway but, never the “star”. Both these gals want to play Marilyn Monroe in a new musical. There will be drama!... and some great established and original music starting on NBC February 6th.
Spielberg recently told press, “I have always had this interest in theater. But what goes on behind all of that, before the curtain even goes up, is something that’s altogether different, and it’s that creative process that really fascinated me; the competition, the creativity, the fights, the dreams, the egos, disappointments, the energy, would make a very, very compelling story".
TeenTV: Katharine, as a current artist, what do you get out of performing cover songs versus original songs? This show will have both.
Katharine: It’s something I really enjoy. I thought since I’ve spent a lot of time in the recording studios in the last five years that the recording part process of the show would be my least favorite, but I’m not picking favorites of what I do. I would say that the recording process for me is actually really rewarding because it’s such a different pace from the set and we’re really on the set a lot every day so I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I actually would. I also love singing original songs.
It’s definitely different because I’m usually singing songs that I’m hearing for the first time, and it’s such a fast pace that we’re on so you don’t get a whole lot of time to sit with the songs and perfect them. It is different because I think of myself as more of a pop artist, and Megan here has got the big Broadway voice, so I’m always trying to balance the two so that they are cohesive together so that it makes sense in terms of the show.
TeenTV: Megan, you were in “Wicked” on Broadway so I know you know your way around the stage and backstage. Can you tell us how to compare what they’re going to try to show us about the drama that goes on behind the scenes with your own experiences touring and being on stage and the drama that goes on behind the scenes?
Megan: Well, the wonderful thing about the show is that there are so many people on it that come from this world that it keeps it very authentic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been backstage, looking around, going, “Where’s the camera? There needs to be a camera here.” Because the drama that happens behind the curtain is way more interesting than what’s happening on the stage.
TeenTV: Cool. There are a lot of stereotyped themes in this kind of show, such as the casting couch, backstabbing rivalry, working as a waitress in order to support your theater work. Are those stereotypes there for a reason? Have you experienced all of this?
Katharine: I 100 percent think that the stereotype is there for a reason. I have worked in a restaurant. I wouldn’t say there was backstabbing. But there was a time where I was testing for a film and I had an actor who was reading opposite me and he had rehearsed with a girl who was at the same agency [and wanted her]. You hear about that and you think, “Well, gee, that’s not fair”, but it’s the business and you just pick up where you left off and keep going. So it definitely happens. I’ve never personally experienced backstabbing, but maybe Ms. Hilty has.
Megan: That’s going to be in my memoirs [laughs]. Well, yeah, 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 so there’s so much at stake when you’re out and exposing yourself in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It naturally sets the tone and sets the stage for high drama, because the adrenaline’s going and the stakes are so high so this show definitely taps into all of those things. And, yes, all of those stereotypes are there for a reason.
Katharine: It happens.
TeenTV: Is making a musical about Marilyn Monroe a perfect showcase for all this behind-the-scenes drama?
Megan: Absolutely. Her story is one of tragedy, heartbreak, glamour, love; all things that make for great drama, all things that people want to watch and are intrigued by, which is why we’re still talking about her today.