The Yak: It’s no secret that before SMASH premiere, comparisons to GLEE surfaced. Do you still hear these comparisons or do you think they’ve been pushed aside as the episodes play out?
Phillip: That’s a good question. I think before the show premiered, that was the only way to kind of paint a watercolor of the show for people. Now that it’s airing, sometimes I watch the show and can’t put it into a category. It’s such an amalgam of all these genres. Am I watching a musical, soap opera, drama, comedy? Somehow it has to be all of those things to be what it is. That’s what makes it so special. People just now understand the tone and feel of the show. The only real comparison to Glee at this point is that people are singing on television.
What helps SMASH is there is a mixture of music. We constantly change the way music is used. The original songs used in “Marilyn the Musical” fit right into the musical, but what I sometimes forget is that they always fit into what is happening with the characters. One example is when Ivy [Hilty] sings “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl,” you see cuts to Derek [Jack Davenport] flirting with another woman. It’s in those details the music serves a greater purpose than covering a pop song for no reason. The music is for a reason.
The Yak: And that mirrors a Broadway show where the music and lyrics mean something.
Phillip: Exactly, saying that music speaks for people when they can’t speak anymore.
The Yak: For anyone who follows you on Twitter (@phillipspaeth), it’s no secret that you love to take pictures. Is that a hobby for you or something you want to pursue further in the future?
Phillip: I love pictures. I just love them so much. It started as a hobby as a kid. The disposable cameras got replaced by digital cameras; it just grew since I was a kid. I could never go anywhere without a camera. I’ve done portraits for friends, played around with headshots…it’s transformed from a passion to a hobby. I’m grateful to be on this show. Sometimes I find myself watching the amazing performances on the monitor, but I am enthralled by people who use the camera to tell the story. That’s what I love. Looking at a picture of someone can make you feel so much. I’m going to keep doing it no matter what.
I would love to direct one day. It’s always been something I’ve been interested in. I love that you’re freezing a moment and can tell a story with a camera. You can feel emotions and tell a story JUST with a picture. I even now plan on posting pics once various episodes air and some that can even tease and keep people watching. I have tons.
The Yak: Alrighty, I’ve talked your ear off, so here is the last question I want to ask you. Let’s say – and no jinxing – SMASH has been on air for many years and we get a grand series finale, where do you want to see Dennis and where do you, then, want to see yourself?
Phillip: Hmm, that’s a really good question. Hmm. Because this is art imitating life, I don’t think Dennis wants to be a part of the ensemble. There is too much drama and he does what he can to stay out of the drama. But, who knows. Dennis could become a choreographer or quit the business altogether and become a school teacher.
For myself…I have goals and aspirations, but I’m at the stage in my career when I’m willing to ride the waves and see what happens. I love acting, performing on stage, writing, photography…There are all these things I can see myself doing. I’m trying to stop stressing and just enjoy it now, knowing that wherever I end up, it’ll be somewhere where I love what I’m doing.
The Yak: That is all that really matters. Fingers crossed. You have your friends, family and fans backing you up, and we definitely wish you nothing but the best!
Photos courtesy of Curtis Holbrook