The 'Smash' cast's favourite musical memories
So many artists have dreams of making it big on Broadway. “Smash” gives viewers a glimpse into the highlights and the lowlights of what it takes to make it on “The Great White Way.” The stellar cast of “Smash” have all been inspired by Broadway in some way or another. Below are a few of their favourite memories:
Debra Messing, who portrays celebrated Broadway writer Julia Houston – “The first Broadway show I saw was Annie and it was life changing. I nearly levitated out of my seat I was so amazed. All I could say to my parents afterwards was ‘I want to do that!’”
Anjelica Huston, who portrays established Broadway producer Eileen Rand – “The first time I came to Broadway was in 1969, as an understudy for Ophelia, in Tony Richardson’s production of Hamlet at the Lunt-Fontanne. I had understudied Marianne Faithfull at the Roundhouse in London, and gone onstage quite a few times. But Francesca Annis replaced Marianne when the production travelled to New York City, and Francesca was not an understudy’s dream …much to my disappointment, she never missed a performance!”
Katharine McPhee, who portrays talented Broadway new-comer Karen Cartwright – “I remember seeing Les Miserables on my first trip to New York. It’s such an iconic show and so powerful. It was an incredible night and something I will never forget.”
Megan Hilty, who portrays seasoned Broadway triple-threat Ivy Lynn – “My very first Broadway experience was watching the famous videotape recording of Into the Woods with the original cast. I instantly fell in love with the stories and the music – and that’s when I became a huge fan of Bernadette Peters. Her performance was thrilling and ultimately inspired me to seriously consider a career in the performing arts.”
Jack Davenport, who portrays bad-boy Broadway director Derek Wills – “My first Broadway experience was technically speaking off-Broadway, but extremely memorable nonetheless. Twenty years ago, I found myself in the audience for one of the very first performances of The Blue Man Group. I wish I could say I’d been to a profound production of The Iceman Cometh, but it was blue men and drumming for me.”
Christian Borle, who portrays composer Tom Levitt – “When I first moved to New York City to try to get a job on Broadway, I would fork over my savings to see shows at theatres like The Shubert, The Richard Rodgers, The Music Box and The Palace. Sitting in the cheap, nose-bleed seats in historic old houses, watching performers the size of ants, I felt happy. Sepia-toned, toe-tapping, childhood happy.”
The “Smash” ensemble cast includes many familiar award-winning actors, but just like Broadway, there is always new talent to discover. They may not yet be household names, but it won’t take long for viewers to fall in love with "Smash" stars Jack Davenport who plays seductive bad boy Derek Wills, one of Broadway's most brilliant director-choreographers, and Megan Hilty, who plays Ivy Lynn, an ensemble performer who has spent years pursuing stardom only to be bumped back into the chorus again and again. The two actors share some of their favourite things exclusively with CTV:
Jack Davenport – While shooting “Smash” in New York City, Davenport’s go-to spot is Prospect Park. When asked to name his favourite Canadian, Davenport is quick to name the “absurdly brilliant” actress Molly Parker. His character on “Smash” may be a villain, but when Davenport wants to hear his favourite Broadway tune, it’s “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy that pulls on his heart strings.
Megan Hilty – In “Smash” there are two Marilyns but there is only one Megan. Having starred on Broadway, Hilty is no stranger to the bustling streets of New York, and escapes to Central Park as “it's the perfect peaceful getaway whenever the city starts to feel overwhelming.” When asked about a favourite Canadian, Hilty has two – her two Jack Russell Terriers that she adopted in Toronto while she was on tour with Wicked.
In real life and in “Smash”, there’s nothing more exciting than the opening night of a hit Broadway musical – except maybe what it takes to get there. When Julia (Emmy® Award-winner Debra Messing, "Will & Grace") and Tom (Tony Award-nominee Christian Borle, Legally Blonde: The Musical), a successful songwriting team, begin work on a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, a determined producer, Eileen (Academy Award®-winner Anjelica Huston), jumps on board, and so begins the difficult task of casting the silver screen icon.
Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty, 9 to 5: The Musical), a tough Broadway veteran determined to leave the chorus line behind, seems like the obvious choice, but a rivalry develops when Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee,"American Idol"), a young girl from Iowa with the dream of making it on Broadway, blows everyone away during her audition. So who will get the part and begin a journey that will change their lives? It's an age-old story, but a star will be born once again.
“Smash” also stars Raza Jaffrey (Sex and the City 2) as Karen’s boyfriend Dev, and Jaime Cepero (Porgy and Bess) as Tom’s eager assistant Ellis. Guest stars this season include Golden Globe®-winner and Academy Award®-nominee Uma Thurman (Kill Bill: Vol. 2), teen heartthrob Joe Jonas ("Jonas"), and Tony Award®-winner Bernadette Peters (Gypsy).
In the series premiere “Pilot” (Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV), Julia (Messing) and her husband Frank (Tony Award®-nominee Brian d’Arcy James, Shrek The Musical) recently began the process of adopting a child, but her focus is torn when she decides to write another Broadway hit with her writing partner Tom (Borle). As the audition process for the lead role begins, Eileen’s (Huston) husband begins divorce proceedings which could threaten the finances of the show, and the brilliant but womanizing director Derek (Jack Davenport, Pirates of the Caribbean) could derail the entire project if he puts one of the young stars in a compromising position.
And, to feed the excitement surrounding the series, Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc. will release the songs performed each week in the series by stars Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty and others – a mixture of pop, Broadway standards and original music. Starting Feb. 6, every Monday morning Sony Music will release digitally 2-3 songs that are featured in that night’s episode to consumers and radio stations across the country.
"Smash" airs Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.