The Yak: Now, let’s see what we can get out of you … can you share any tidbits about your character Dennis or the big season finale scene you mentioned shooting?
Phillip: Honestly, I can’t share much, unfortunately. It’s been a huge roller coaster. At this point, it’s so hard to track this thing. Now that I’m watching the episodes as they air, there is so much that I forgot about. To see someone’s character in episode 5 [last week] and to be shooting the season finale, it’s crazy because the characters all change. At the end of the season, everyone is in a different place than when they started. I think it’s just better to leave it. It all goes CRAZY.
The Yak: And Dennis?
Phillip: Oh, he comes around. He is in and out as part of the ensemble. Obviously they have heavy hitters on the show and the story is about them. We’re there to support the reality and environment, if you will. They could have easily made a show about the creative team or cast, but having all these different principles represented really rounds out the show. All I can say is that I hope people keep watching because so much has happened.
At this point, you can tell Phillip is smiling on the other end of the phone trying to hold back from giving us some juicy. NBC can be proud…he kept his lips sealed. SMASH fans, I tried.
When people come on as dancers on the show for an episode or two, for example, they haven’t seen all the scripts. So, when you’re trying to catch people up on what’s been happening, I start smiling and get goosebumps because there are all these little details I have forgotten about. It’s more fun to watch it unravel and ride the wave.
The Yak: One of the unique aspects of this show is seeing the production aspect of getting a show on stage. It’s amazing for people to see both sides.
Phillip: Exactly. I always tell people that’s where the real story is. When a show comes on Broadway and they put out this volume of photos and stories of the cast and crew, I love it. If I love the show, I buy that book because it is fascinating. People pay so much for a ticket to see a show, sit in a chair and love the show. But then that’s it. The show that happens until that show opens…oh for an audience member to be a fly on the wall. Here, you’re watching something being built from scratch. We take it for granted as performers, and so many people come together to make a stack of paper a reality. It’s very tumultuous, but it’s wonderful. I liken it to a baseball team in that everyone has to come together to accomplish that goal.
The Yak: It’s great to see you so passionate about this. You have experienced this and are now playing it. By you playing it, you’re letting others experience it.
Phillip: Ya, it’s bizarre. It’s a show within a show within a show within a show within a life. It really is the stories of our lives. My family and friends are never in a rehearsal room with me. They get the phone call after when I vent and gossip, but it’s only information and they can’t see the whole picture. Now they can get a greater point of view.
The Yak: As a Broadway actor, is there anyone in particular from the Broadway world you’d love to see come on as a guest stint?
Phillip: It’s tricky. Take Debra [Messing, who plays Julia Houston]. She grew up around musical theatre. So many people in TV get their start in theatre. Debra is so passionate about theatre and she’s an incredible actor. Then you have someone like Christian [Borle, who plays Tom Levitt], who is an absolute idol of mine. He can do anything. In a couple of episodes, we have Bernadette Peters. Maybe the public might not be terribly familiar, but she’s won tons of awards for her work on stage. That’s the authenticity of the show, though. She is HUGE in this world. She just has to be there. An A-list film actor cannot come play a Broadway star when we have a real Broadway star. And this show has put authenticity first. You have someone like Megan who is perfect for this, and you have someone like Kat [McPhee] who really could be a newcomer.