There was a lot of hype before its premiere. SMASH had a lot to live up to with the advertisements and marketing before, during and after one of the country’s biggest events, The Superbowl. NBC’s hype, the media’s critical acclaim, and the peek the public got at the pilot before the actual premiere didn’t worry the cast as much as we might have expected, cast member Phillip Spaeth noted during a recent chat he had with the Yak. Why? Because the cast knew that what they loved doing, America was going to love too. As you’ll see below, evidenced by Phillip’s passion, the story that the cast and crew strive to tell on SMASH is more than just about Marilyn Monroe. It’s more than just an underdog’s fight to the top. The story they strive to tell is one about a family. A family of producers, writers, composers, cast members, and people. There is more to a Broadway production than the production itself. SMASH is only 5 episodes in its first season (with an all-new episode tonight), and with the support of critics and fans alike, hopefully we will see the story unfold for episodes to come.
As an actor playing the character Dennis, Phillip Spaeth has a very unique role. Spaeth is not only portraying a member of the ensemble in a Broadway production, he is playing his life. Sure, there is an exaggeration here and there for TV drama, but this very story is how Phillip’s life has molded and shaped him into the actor he is today. As an actor on the stage production of Wicked (where he co-starred with current SMASH songstress Megan Hilty) to his role on the movie adaption of Hairspray, Philip is definitely no stranger to the Broadway world and he is definitely not camera shy. Phillip was gracious enough to take time out of his busy shooting schedule (they’re working on massive season finale numbers, folks!) to chat with us about his character Dennis, what we can expect the rest of this season, backstage antics and more! Make sure you click through the pages and see what Phillip has to say!
On a personal note, we want to thank him for taking time to chat with us. It really was a delight to chat with Phillip. His passion and excitement for what he does was infectious and refreshing.
SMASH airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC!
The Yak: So you guys are working on the last episode now. How has it been? Did you expect all of the hype and critical acclaim the show’s gotten so far?
Phillip: It’s been great…a wild road. We’re now in the homestretch. You know, this is a HUGE project. It’s nice that it’s being well received. I don’t think you ever expect something like this. With my schedule, I actually don’t have a lot of time to watch TV. It’s funny to hear about the commercials second hand. I hear from my grandparents that they see Angelica Huston’s face and then SMASH. I try and YouTube them on breaks here and there. The show’s marketing campaign was unbelievable.
The Yak: I know you have been on the stage for so long, how is it transitioning to television for something Broadway related?
Phillip: It helps with the comfort level – making the transition – that it’s a world I’m very familiar with. Yesterday [Friday] we had a 14 hour day and we spent about half of it filming this number in front of an audience. It’s art imitating life. I’ve been through it for such a long time and now you’re trying to tell the world what it’s like to be a performer on Broadway.
The Yak: Is the show actually accurate in that sense?
Phillip: Obviously it’s the highlights. It’s a dramatization of that life. They take the storyline of the new chorus girl pining for such a huge part. They take the “experienced” chorus girl finally getting that huge part. It has all happened in my life time. They are hitting all the hot spots to get as much juice out of real life.
The Yak: How different is it working with Megan [Hilty, who plays Ivy Lynn] on a TV show compared to Wicked?
Phillip: Absolutely not! [laughs] Megan is the real deal. First of all, she’s an amazing human being and an amazing performer. I always knew that while working with here. There were moments when we were doing Wicked, when I first started Broadway, and I ALWAYS knew she was going to wind up here. She has remained an amazing friend and such an inspiration. I would watch this show for her.
The Yak: You don’t watch for you?
Phillip: Oh, I hate watching myself. [laughs] She is just so fun to watch. To experience this with her is great. It was only a matter of time America found out about Megan. In every show, there are always these antics backstage. We always would joke, “If only there were a camera back here.” There is always backstage drama. It is a very interesting life. I’m really glad the story is being told.
The Yak: Any fun backstage antics you want to share between you and the cast of SMASH?
Phillip: Oh man. The antics don’t stop. I’ll say that much. Everyone is professional and put their best work out there. Yesterday, I got there at 8am and we shot straight through lunch; it was a big production number with Kat [McPhee, who plays Karen Cartwright]. I honestly thought we’d be done by lunch [4 pm] … I didn’t leave the set until about 10:30pm. Around hour 10-ish, people started getting really goofy. There was a point in time when they really should have sent us home. There was a really dramatic scene and all of the principle cast members were there and we couldn’t stop making each other laugh. That’s where the fun is. What we do for a living – put on costumes, get hair and makeup done – that’s all great and wonderful. There is just so much fun on set. The antics are where it’s at for me.