Pop Culture

'Smash' or crash? Debra Messing lends her voice to new musical drama

Mark Seliger/NBC  / Today

The last time TV audiences got a musical earful from Debra Messing, they didn't exactly hear her dulcet tones. In fact, the not-quite-triple threat tormented the ears of the primetime crowd when she sang Outkast's "Hey Ya!" on an episode of "Will & Grace," as her version of the song sounded more like two tomcats fighting.

Back then, her on-screen neighbors asked her to pipe down, but now the woman who once played Grace Adler has joined NBC's upcoming song and dance show "Smash."

(FYI, TODAY.com is powered by msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Messing plays a lyricist on "Smash," so co-stars Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty get to carry most of the tunes on the show. But the Emmy Award-winner recently revealed to TODAY.com that she will be singing on an upcoming episode.

Is that a threat or a promise? Well ...

Actually, it's been difficult for the actress, who began her career as a singer, to watch McPhee and Hilty dance and sing while she basically sits behind a desk watching the two ladies perform. In her role as songwriter Julia Houston, who has taken a break from her career so she and her husband can adopt a child, she gets the call to reunite with writing partner Tom Levitt to produce a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. McPhee and Hilty play the two actresses vying for the main role.

"It's hard watching them sing and dance, but I actually already shot a song," she said. "The context and the tone of the singing is very different, incorporating the song into the dramatic arch of my character in a way I think works."

So does she sing better than Grace? Tipping her head up in a Grace-worthy sassy stance, she told us, "I'll leave that up to you to decide."

On the show, Julia is trying to balance her need for a child with her ambition and love of theater. In real life, Messing also strikes that balance between career and family – or maybe it's more of a separation, as she's trying to dissuade her 7-year-old son, Roman, from following in her footsteps.

"He just played the lead in 'Peter Pan' at school and he was brilliant," the proud mom gushed. "But I told him when he was two weeks old he was going to be an architect and acting is fine for him as a hobby, but (it's) not what Mama chose for him."

Of course, Mama might have a hard time making her case when she when she keeps bringing him to the set of her new show.

"He loves watching them sing and he's hung out with (guest star) Bernadette Peters," Messing shared with us. "He's already in love with it."

Find out if you love it too when the series premiere of "Smash" airs Monday night at 10 p.m. on NBC. To hear more about the show from Messing, watch the TODAY show on Monday.

Will you tune in to see Messing and her castmates in the musical drama? Tell us on our Facebook page.  



Also in The Clicker: