Theater fans have a ton of reasons to be excited about the second season of NBC’s Smash (debuting February 5), not the least of which is hunky star Jeremy Jordan, spunky newcomer Krysta Rodriguez and a slew of Broadway veterans who will pop up on the hit show. Broadway.com invaded the Brooklyn set of the musical theater dramedy to chat with Jordan, Rodriguez and returning star Katharine McPhee about all the exciting things we can expect from the new season—and the new actors. Here are a dozen scoops we learned about life in the Smash lane!
1. Katharine McPhee and Krysta Rodriguez Have History
New cast member Rodriguez plays McPhee’s roommate on the show, but the two actually met during a chance encounter in college when a dormmate of McPhee’s invited his girlfriend—Rodriguez—to stay for the weekend. ”I didn’t know her, but I remember being like, ‘Oh, she’s so pretty and can sing so well,'” McPhee recalls of the Addams Family vet.
2. Musical Theater Is Getting A Rockin' Upgrade
This season will introduce the new musical Hit List, which McPhee describes as “a Spring Awakening, Rent kind of vibe” rather than Bombshell’s traditional musical theater style. Rodriguez adds that Hit List is “essentially about fame and what people will do to achieve it in the era of Lady Gaga. It’s very hip; it’s very young.”
3. Smash Is Actually Surprisingly Realistic
Critics have been quick to point out Smash’s inaccuracies, but Jordan insists that everything is rooted in reality. “There are precedents for pretty much any weird storyline,” he says. “A lot of shows on their way to Broadway have a nice, normal, boring route. We take interesting things that have happened to other shows and make them all happen to ours. It makes for good television!”
4. Gypsies Get Their Due, Too!
Rodriguez also vouches for the show’s realism, noting that her personal favorite moment from this season is a Gypsy Robe ceremony, a beloved Broadway opening night tradition. “It’s authentic: We have the head of Equity doing the Gypsy Robe ceremony,” she says. “I’m a recipient for Spring Awakening, so that was really special to me. I got very emotional.”
5. Smash's Cameos Are Getting Scandalous
Among this season's guest stars: Broadway veterans Carolee Carmello, Manny Herrera and Montego Glover. "Every episode, big or small, there’s somebody coming in and shaking it up," Jordan says.
6. Karen and Ivy Still Hate Each Other, Obviously
The “Who’s Marilyn?” question has simmered down, but Karen and Ivy are still at odds as Karen heads into the off-Broadway rocker Hit List while Ivy joins another new musical, Liaisons. Off-camera, McPhee is envious of Megan HIlty’s new operatic gig. “It looks amazing. The big numbers are so vibrant,” she raves. “Megan gets to do a lot of cool styles this year. I was incredibly jealous."
7. Karen's New Roommate Is a Little Loose
Rodriguez promises some light competition between roommates Ana and Karen, thanks to Ana's floozy ways. “I get in a little bit of trouble. I have a thing for musicians and you'll see me take home a couple,” says Rodriguez, whose character’s backstory didn’t make the cut into the final episode. “I’m a dancer/singer/actress and I was on the West Side Story tour. There was a whole thing where I give her shoes I stole from wardrobe.”
8. Smash Fans Are Just Like Fansies
Newsies aficionados know and love Jordan, but he’s braced himself for a familiar swarm of Smash fans. “They’re the same [as Newsies fans], except there are a few more non-teenagers and more boys as Smash fans,” Jordan says with a laugh. “The Newsies fan base is heavy on the females.”
9. McPhee Has A Hunky Wish List
“I love Patrick Wilson,” says McPhee, speaking about her dream Broadway guest star. “He is so handsome, and my husband agrees.” Though she admits that Wilson may not be right for Hit List, McPhee sees room for another high-profile Broadway alum. “Maybe Lea Michele will drop in. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”
10. We May Actually See the Tony Awards
“You’ll see the race to the Tonys,” says Rodriguez, although she won’t specify who exactly might be heading to the big awards show. “There are Tony war rooms where producers of the different shows are deciding, how do we get there, who’s going to be nominated? There is definitely Tony conversation.”
11. Broadway Veterans Make the Cast Giddy
Though Rodriguez didn't work with guest stars Liza Minnelli and Bernadette Peters this season, she was excited to find herself her face-to-face with Rent alums Jesse L. Martin and Daphne Rubin-Vega. “At table reads, they sit next to each other, and I had a Rent moment," she squeals. "Those things are very exciting.”
12. Jeremy Jordan’s Mom Is A Smashaholic
“My mom is obsessed with Smash, so when I told her that I was up for it, she nearly fainted,” says Jordan, who was a “dedicated” fan of the show’s first season. “Of course [my wife, actress] Ashley [Spencer] was excited, but she was with me the whole time, so it wasn’t a surprise. My mom freaked out like a crazy person.”