NEW YORK – Actress Katharine McPhee has already played someone who stars in a Broadway show. Now she’s really going to do it herself.
The singer-actress told the Associated Press she is stepping into the hit musical “Waitress,” marking the Broadway debut for the former cast member of NBC’s “Smash.” She starts April 10 and stars through June 17.
“People come up to me all the time and say, ‘You’ve done Broadway, right?’ And I’m like, ‘Nope, I’ve never done it,’ ” McPhee said. “I did a show about it but I was never, in fact, on Broadway. So this is really my first moment.”
McPhee, 33, can be seen on the CBS drama “Scorpion,” where she helps a group of misfit geniuses combat high-tech threats. Her recording career includes the 2015 album, “Hysteria,” and she sings jazz standards on “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” which came out last year.
McPhee, who was the runner-up to the 2006 “American Idol” crown, losing to Taylor Hicks, also starred in “Smash,” which focused on the backstage drama surrounding the creation of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe.
McPhee played Karen Cartwright, a small-town girl from Iowa who becomes a serious contender for the title role, putting her in fierce competition with seasoned Broadway trouper Ivy Linn, played by Megan Hilty.
“Waitress,” the musical adaptation of the 2007 film with songs by pop star Sara Bareilles, tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and pie maker trapped in a small-town diner and a loveless marriage. The role has been played by Jessie Mueller, Betsy Wolfe – and Bareilles herself.
“Aside from being a big Broadway fan and wanting to be on Broadway one day, to do a show that Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics to – I’m such a fan of hers – it’s a real thrill for me,” McPhee said.
The musical is adapted from a 2007 film starring Keri Russell. It offers unusual ingredients for musical theater, like infidelity, spousal abuse and lack of maternal instincts.
“It’s a group of imperfect people, which is real and human. I’m looking forward to portraying a woman that a lot of people can relate to – struggling, wanting to have a better life,” McPhee said. “I can’t wait to have this to be my first show.”
With live TV under her belt, as well as grueling shooting schedules, McPhee said her chief concern is having the energy needed to perform eight times a week.
“I’m not afraid of the role. I’m not afraid of the nerves of doing a show,” she said. “I’m more afraid of the stamina.” Bareilles and McPhee huddled in her dressing room and broke the role down. “I’m going to look to her as a guiding light.”
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