The Katharine Mcphee girl crush is very real.
I recently saw her in Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre, written by the incomparable Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson. I didn’t go solely for Mcphee and in fact knew nothing about the show at all, other than I love the composer. I simply bought a couple of tickets as it seemed to have good reviews.
A few weeks prior to going I had been binge-watching Smash - completely unintentional, just a well-timed coincidence. I watched it when it first aired but had forgotten how much I loved it. The story of Marilyn Monroe as a musical? It’s like all my vintage dreams come true!
Of course it’s not just about Marilyn, it’s really about the creatives behind it - the writers, directors, performers. As an actress myself it’s easy to relate your own life to the story being portrayed, and watching those girls fight it out for a part was like staring into my own soul. Maybe that’s why Mcphee stood out to me - a relatable character simply trying to show that she was great at what she does.
I’d like to point out that until I opened the Waitress programme just before the show started, I had no clue that the Jenna I would be watching that day was that very same lady. I saw her picture and did the whole, ‘oh, it’s her!’ thing. I’d even seen posters around the streets and stations and didn’t even twig!
The character she plays, Jenna, is one of the more neutral, level-headed characters in the show. The others have very big and definitive personalities and whilst her story is complicated and sometimes tense, she acts as the neutral cog between all of the characters onstage. A recipe for greatness on this occasion (so many baking puns...sorry not sorry!)
Katharine Mcphee knew when to bring it down so others had their chance to captivate the audience, which they did with ease (some really incredible performers up there!), but she also harvested the ability to step it up and shine when she needed to. By far the moment that took my breath away was the power ballad. Every show needs one and ‘She used to be Mine’ was...how can I describe it...gut-wrenching? Is that the right word? The power in her final notes was astonishing. You could have heard a pin drop in that theatre. When she finished the song there was an eerie moment of silence before the audience erupted for a good 20 seconds. That doesn’t sound like long, but when you have continuous applause for twenty seconds in a theatre and the show can’t carry on until it stops, it feels like a lifetime.
She was funny, she was realistic, natural - everything it needed. Sometimes I direct shows and my favourite types of performers who go for those ‘fluffy’ lead roles - think Dorothy from Wizard of Oz or Laurey in Oklahoma - are the ones who play it naturally. It’s so much nicer to watch someone who looks like they are that character and not over-acting because it’s theatre.
Maybe it’s because she’s like that in real life? Her Twitter account makes for excellent reading...
If you get a chance to ever see her in a show, do it. She finishes in Waitress on June 15th so get in there quick, but be warned, you will develop a Katharine Mcphee girl crush. There’s no turning back once it happens, it’s just fate.