It’s the Broadway invasion! It’s like the British Invasion, but with more acting, singing, and dancing. Bunheads, Go On, The New Normal, Glee, and even the action show Arrow have Broadway actors in their casts. A great concentration of Broadway actors on TV, are in SMASH, a show documenting the “drama behind the drama” in the process of creating ‘Bombshell’, a fictional musical about the enigmatic Marilyn Monroe. The show focuses on Tom and Julia, the two-piece writing team behind the musical, as well as Ivy and Karen, the two women competing for the lead role.
This is a rundown of the main Broadway stars on SMASH this season. After seeing so many roles go to Hollywood hot-shots when musicals and plays are turned into films, it’s great to see a TV show utilizing the Broadway community. SMASH has been nominated for several Emmys, a Golden Globe award, a Grammy, and just won ‘Best Drama Series’ at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Marilyn Monroe Hopeful
Megan Hilty plays Ivy Lynn, one of the actresses vying for the role of Marilyn. Ivy is a struggling actress who has been repeatedly snubbed and reduced to ensemble roles, until she’s given the chance to play Miss Marilyn Monroe. There are a few obstacles on her path, namely Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), the other actress in contention to be Marilyn. Megan hails from Bellevue, Washington, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and is a seasoned Broadway actress in real life. She made her Broadway debut as the bubbly Galinda in Wicked. Smash helped kick start Megan Hilty’s career outside of the Broadway community; she just released her first album, sang to a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall, and was cast in the animated film Dorothy from Oz.
The Level-Headed Composer
Pittsburg native, Christian Borle, plays Tom Levitt, one half of the main writing duo in SMASH, with Debra Messing’s Julia Houston as the other half. He makes for a great balance with Debra Messing’s character. Their friendship is believable and relatable. He is often the one keeping Julia grounded during the arduous process of getting their show to Broadway. Christian has also since appeared in productions such as, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Mary Poppins. He was Tony-nominated for playing Emmett Forrest in the production Legally Blonde. Most recently, he starred in the Tony-winning play Peter and the Starcatcher, as Black Stache. He did that play in between filming of Season 1 and season 2 of SMASH. His performance earned him his first tony win as Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Christian Borle singing “Public Relations” in SMASH
The Budding Writing Partners, Jimmy and Kyle
28-year old Jeremy Jordan is new this season of SMASH, playing Jimmy, one part of a new musical-writing duo, who struggles with anger issues, drugs, and a few ghosts from his past. Jeremy Jordan is a very popular actor on Broadway right now and is an Ithaca College graduate, coming from Corpus Christi, Texas. He is currently best known for playing Jack Kelly in the Broadway production of Newsies. He was Tony-nominated for that performance. As well, he has starred in Rock of Ages, West Side Story, and originated the role of Clyde Barrow in the short-lived musical, Bonnie and Clyde. He will soon be hitting movie theaters in the film adaption of the musical, The Last 5 Years, opposite the ever popular Anna Kendrick! Jeremy Jordan has a marvelous voice, and sings with great technique and intensity.
Jeremy Jordan belting out “Rewrite This Story” on SMASH
Andy Mientus plays Kyle Bishop, writing partner of Jeremy Jordan’s Jimmy, and is also new this season. Their partnership is reminiscent of the friendship between Roger and Mark in the musical Rent. Andy’s character Kyle is the writer, while Jeremy Jordan’s Jimmy composes music. Kyle is currently struggling with his confidence in his writing skills, after getting negative reactions to a reading of his and Jimmy’s musical. His most notable role to date has been as Hanschen in the tour of Spring Awakening. He also made his off-Broadway debut as Stokes in Carrie.
Andy Mientus singing a duet with Jennifer Hudson
The Real Life Best Friends
Krysta Rodriguez moved to New York City from Orange County, California to seek a career in theatre. She was last in a Broadway production in 2010 as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family musical. Prior to that, she also had roles in Bye Bye Birdie off-Broadway, Spring Awakening, and In The Heights. She became best friends with SMASH co-star Wesley Taylor, after starring opposite each other in The Addams Family as love-interests. The pair was the second feature in Broadway.com’s “Broadway Besties” series. This season on SMASH, Krysta makes her debut as Ana Vargas, the new roommate of Karen.
Wesley Taylor has been on the series as Bobby, an ensemble member in ‘Bombshell’. He is friends with almost everyone, but also isn’t completely loyal to either Team Karen or Team Ivy. I think he’s Team Bobby, and maybe we would learn more about him if he had more screen time! Wesley is an Orlando, Florida-native, and graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts. He was in the musical Rock of Ages with Jeremy Jordan, and as mentioned, also starred in The Addams Family opposite Krysta Rodriguez. He is becoming better known for the comedy web series he produces and stars in. His first web series was titled Billy Green. He co-created his new web series, It Could Be Worse, with former Rock of Ages co-star Mitchell Jarvis. It Could Be Worse recently debuted on February 1st.
Wesley and Krysta singing “I’m Crazier Than You” from The Addams Family.
Other notable Broadway talent that have made appearances in the series so far include Will Chase, Ann Harada, Savannah Wise, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Kitt, Norbert Leo Butz, Annaleigh Ashford, Nikki Blonsky, Harvey Fierstein, and Bernadette Peters as Ivy’s mother.
Stagnant viewership seems to be setting SMASH on the road to cancellation, which would be a shame because the amazing world of Broadway would once again pass into the background while mainstream-Hollywood dominates the airwaves. SMASH showcases immensely talented and often triple threat performers, as well as musical theatre composers such as Pasek and Paul, Drew Gasparini, and Joe Iconis. For so many people far away from New York, SMASH brings a bit of Broadway into our homes every week, and it will be disappointing if these entertainers go missing from our television screens. Support the Broadway community from the comfort of your homes!
Watch SMASH on Tuesdays at 10 PM on CTV/NBC until April 6 when it moves to Saturday nights at 9 PM.