Bernadette Peters: 'Smash' Gets Broadway Right!
There are only a handful of Broadway legends whose applause of Smash is akin to getting The Great White Way's stamp of approval. Well, on tonight's episode, Bernadette Peters takes things one step further by not only singing the show's praises but also guest starring as Ivy's mother!
It's a huge coup for the series and a delicious role the actress couldn't wait to sink her teeth into! I caught up with the living legend to talk about her time on Smash, why she loves that TV musicals are all the rage and why, even after all these years, she's still thrilled to be singing Rose's Turn!
Insider.com: How did this opportunity come about?
Bernadette Peters: They called and wanted me on the show. I was actually in Follies at the time, so I didn't think I would be able to do it. But they really worked around my schedule to figure out how I could come in. So I had later call times and was out by a certain time every day, they also gave me my choice of songs. It was thrilling.
Insider: Since it was your choice, it's safe to say that you aren't sick of singing Rose's Turn.
Bernadette: Oh no! Every time is as good as the first time. A great piece of music always feels great to slip back into. Plus, I haven't sung it since 2004. I know the ins and outs of it, so coming back to something like that is always a great time. I was glad I was able to sing a song of that caliber on Smash.
Insider: You play Ivy's mother, Leigh Conroy -- how do you describe her?
Bernadette: She's a former performer, so she's a bit narcissistic, yet has a great love for Ivy – but her daughter doesn't quite know it because they don't have the best relationship. So right away there's a lot of great things to play. Ivy is living very much in her mother's shadow because even though she's building this career of her own, everyone knows who Leigh Conroy is. And Ivy feels like her mother is competing with her, which might be a little true [laughs], but it's her daughter and she does love her. There's a lot beneath the surface and that's always fun to play.
Insider: When Leigh walks into the rehearsal room, the cast begs her to sing. This must happen to you all the time in real life.
Bernadette: Well ... not in a rehearsal room, but other places, yes [laughs]. Other actors are so concentrated on their roles, but kids in the chorus who aren't that busy in a rehearsal have been star struck before and it's adorable.
Insider: There's been a lot of talk about how realistic the workshop environment Smash presents is -- as someone who has done her fair share of them, what do you say?
Bernadette: Workshops are always very thrown together because you only have a certain amount of time to do it. They are very rushed as they're re-writing pages and throwing in songs. It is very much how a workshop can be. It's a dramatic show, so they're taking the heightened reality of the most heightened situations you could possibly have but a lot of those things could and have happened. A narcissistic egomaniac director sleeping with his actors happens. The nerves that come from being in a workshop but not promised a role are very real. The fear of losing your voice and taking things like Prednisone to sing better are all real. They've taken all the scenarios of people being on the line and put them in a drama, it's heightened but real.
Insider: With Smash and Glee, musicals are now very much a part of everyone's daily pop culture consumption. As someone who has made her living in the medium, how exciting is that?
Bernadette: I think it's so terrific. I think it's so wonderful because music has its own uplifting quality. It has this way of communicating and healing and it has a special place in our lives. It's so nice to see that across the country everyone is hungry for it. People love musicals so it's the perfect time for it.
Smash airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.