Katharine McPhee, who played a Broadway hopeful turned star in the NBC series Smash, at last gets her chance at the real Great White Way. The actor and recording artist makes her Broadway debut as Jenna in Waitress beginning April 10.
The American Idol star succeeds ensemble member and Jenna understudy Stephanie Torns, who filled in after Sara Bareilles took her final bow last month. McPhee will play a limited engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre through June 17.
“There are so many themes in the show that I connect to on a really deep, personal level: Being in relationships you’re not meant to be in, the feeling of not wanting to be a mother, wanting to be a mother,” McPhee told Playbill. “It has comedy, and heart, and darkness, and sadness, and hope.”
While Waitress marks McPhee’s Broadway debut, she does have a history with musical theatre. McPhee attended Boston Conservatory for three semesters and starred in an L.A. production of Annie Get Your Gun before auditioning for the fifth season of American Idol, ultimately placing as the runner-up.
On Smash, McPhee played Karen Cartwright, an aspiring actor from Iowa in contention for the role of Marilyn Monroe in the fictional musical Bombshell. In the second season of the NBC series, Karen starred in the experimental musical Hit List, subsequently earning a Tony nomination. (As a replacement, McPhee will not be considered eligible for the real-life Tonys.) McPhee performed a handful of songs from Bombshell in a one-night-only concert at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre in 2015.
McPhee currently stars in the CBS series Scorpion, now in its fourth season.
Based on the 2007 film and with a book by Jessie Nelson, Waitress tells the story of a Southern diner employee who dreams of escaping her abusive marriage by channeling her passions into her inventive pies—and an affair with a new-to-town doctor. The cast currently includes Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie, Ben Thompson as Earl, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Becky, Caitlin Houlahan as Dawn, Benny Elledge as Cal, and Steve Vinovich, who begins April 10 as Joe.