The Job: Broadway Understudy
SMASH: Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee)
WHAT THE SHOW NAILS: Performance anxiety. "There is a ton of stress on the understudy because you rightly fear that you'll be thrown on at the last moment and be unprepared," says Broadway veteran Sharon Wheatley, who has performed in Avenue Q, Les Misérables, and The Phantom of the Opera. "Karen captures this well, even when she has to cope with the fact that there are no costumes for her when she takes over for the lead. Recently, a Broadway understudy went on in the lead role and had to wear his own tuxedo because they didn't have costumes for him."
WHAT'S PURE FICTION: The ingenue routine. "There is a naïveté to Karen that doesn't ring quite right," says Wheatley. "How in the world do you land a gigantic audition in front of every important theater person in New York if you don't even have an agent or any theater savvy? She's just too green."