Two desperate and talented performers — Ivy (Megan Hilty), a Broadway veteran looking to move beyond the chorus line, and Karen (Katharine McPhee), a Midwestern girl stuck waiting tables — fight to star in a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
To get the lead role in the new musical drama Smash, they'll have to win over a writing duo that's out for one more hit (Debra Messing, Christian Borle), a producer in the midst of a messy divorce (Anjelica Huston) and a director (Jack Davenport) with an ego bigger than the Big Apple.
"I have always had an interest in theater," explains executive producer Steven Spielberg, "but it's that creative process — what goes on before the curtain even goes up — that really fascinated me."
The result is a behind-the-scenes look at musical theater with a few soulful show tunes for good measure (think: Glee meets The West Wing). And in a meta twist, the Marilyn production they're putting together on the show may one day be staged as a reallife Broadway musical.
As in the show, the stars of Smash each took a different path to get here. "I always said I would never do an hour-long drama, then everything went out the window," Will & Grace alum Debra tells Star. "I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime script."
"I had the same reaction," adds Megan, a Broadway vet with Wicked on her résumé. "I was like, 'I need to be a part of this.'" And then there's American Idol Season 5 runner-up Katharine. She's up for the acting — it's getting used to the East Coast that's a challenge. "I'm a born and raised L.A. girl," she tells Star. "I love New York City, but it's only just gotten cold. Give me a couple more months and see how I feel!"
Premieres Monday, Feb. 6, at 10PM on NBC