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

By Michael Gioia
23 Feb 2013

Katharine McPhee and Jeremy Jordan on "Smash."
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

"I am a performer; I am a dancer-singer-actress, and Kat [McPhee's character] and I knew each other from before, from our waitressing days," Rodriguez told, referring to her character's backstory. She explained that the "Smash" creatives cut a scene in the premiere episode that gave audiences a deeper slice into the life of Ana Vargas.

"We were about six minutes over in the episode," said Rodriguez. "But [my character] was on tour last season, which is why I wasn't around. And then when [Karen] breaks up with her boyfriend [Dev], I have a room open because my roommate goes on the Disney cruise, as I mention in the [premiere] episode."

She quickly added, "[My character] was on the West Side Story tour; I was playing Rosalia — FYI! … So we've been friends and then she moves in with me and we just sort of navigate theatre together, and I end up being in Hit List, which is the new show this season."

Hit List, one of the new fictional musicals featured on "Smash" — an edgy new work in the vein of Spring Awakening and Rent that will compete with the Marilyn Monroe-inspired Bombshell — is written by Brooklyn-born singer and songwriter Jimmy Collins, played by Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan, and book writer Kyle Bishop, played by Andy Mientus of Off-Broadway's Carrie.

Katherine McPhee
photo by Patrick Randak /NBC

"Karen tries to straddle — as I'm sure many people in the theatre community do — being a part of something that's going to Broadway, but also looking for the future," McPhee told on her involvement with the Hit List musical. While on set, McPhee, along with Jordan and Rodriguez, filmed "The Goodbye Song," a number featured in Hit List by real-life musical theatre songwriter Joe Iconis. The trio was heavily featured in the number, which took place in front of an "audience" of theatregoers. Could "Smash" audiences see the new musical on the fast track to success?

"It starts off as a Fringe show, gets a lot of traction, moves Off-Broadway very quickly, gets a lot of traction, and then we're hoping that it will move to Broadway and give Bombshell a run for its money," explained Rodriguez. "[The musical is] essentially about fame and what people will do to achieve it — in this era of Lady Gaga and Madonna and people who reinvent themselves to become famous. That's the over-reaching theme, but it's got some darker themes about love and death — all those sorts of things that those young, hip musicals have!"