STAGE TO SCREENS: Katharine McPhee and Krysta Rodriguez, On and Off-Screen Friends in NBC's "Smash"

By Michael Gioia
25 Feb 2013

Krysta Rodriguez
Krysta Rodriguez
Photo by Patrick Randak/NBC

Katharine McPhee and Krysta Rodriguez, who crossed paths during McPhee's time at Boston Conservatory, are reunited — and now play friends and roommates, Karen Cartwright and Ana Vargas — on the NBC musical drama "Smash."

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"I went to Boston Conservatory for like three semesters," said "Smash" leading lady Katharine McPhee on the Brooklyn set of the NBC musical drama, as she began to explain her first encounter with Krysta Rodriguez, one of the many new cast members featured on the show's second season. "I dropped out early on because I wanted to start working. But it's so funny because [during] our freshman year of college…this guy named Jesse — this really talented guy — his girlfriend who went to NYU was coming into town to stay with him for the weekend. And, she was going to sing at one of the vocal recitals with him because they were 'madly in love,' and it happened to be Krysta Rodriguez!"

McPhee continued, "I remember [thinking], 'Uh! She's so pretty. She can sing so well!' … I saw her in Spring Awakening and saw that she was always doing really well in the theatre world, and then when they cast her in the show, I [said], 'I know this person.' And, she remembered me, so it was kind of fun."



Rodriguez explained that her audition process for the new season — run by former "Gossip Girl" executive producer and writer Joshua Safran, whom she worked with on the 2008 "Gossip Girl" episode "New Haven Can Wait" — moved unusually fast. "It happened very quickly for me. I had one audition, and then three days later they called and said, 'You start work on Monday,' which has never happened in the history of the world!" said the actress with a laugh.

Rodriguez, best known for her Broadway appearances in The Addams Family, In the Heights, Spring Awakening, A Chorus Line and Good Vibrations, plays the eccentric Ana Vargas, who was introduced to "Smash" audiences in the season's two-hour premiere. (Read the Playbill.com "Smash" Report, featuring commentary on the show; Rodriguez's character was seen reading Playbill.com in her first "Smash" appearance.)

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