By Tara Fowler
Updated January 03, 2013 at 06:36 PM EST
Ruven Afanador for EW

Taking a cue from the theater drama Smash, which returns to NBC on Feb. 5, set designer Sean Patrick Anderson transformed a New York City photo studio into a Broadway rehearsal stage for our cover shoot with stars Jennifer Hudson, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty. (Click here to buy the issue.)

The location had a behind-the-scenes feel, but the ladies looked ready to take center stage. In an effort to find a “balance between something that felt very Broadway, but also had a fashion reference,” stylist Jennifer Hitzges paired pieces from labels like Herve Leger, Jenny Packham and Christian Louboutin with lots of costume jewelry and a beauty look inspired by Sophia Loren. “The hair, the makeup, the colors of the clothes and the way that the girls were moving… made it so authentic,” Hitzges says of the final result.

Click through the gallery for more details on Hudson, McPhee and Hilty’s cover shoot style. SEE THE PHOTOS

“Jennifer looked like she had legs [that went on] forever,” Hitzges says of Hudson (in a Haute Hippie gown), who added a few inches to her frame with a pair of Manolo Blahnik peep toe d’Orsays. “They were all listening to Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance With Somebody,” and at one point, all three of them harmonized. I was chasing Jennifer Hudson with a safety pin to try to fix the dress and I just looked up and thought, ‘This is my job. I get to hear these people [sing].'”

“Kat’s Jenny Packham dress had fringe, and she was shaking it and wriggling all around,” remembers Hitzges, who matched the intricately beaded frock with glittery heels from Rene Coavilla. “It was as if you had an Oscar gown, but shorter. [She had] a really expensive, really well-designed, glamorous moment, but there was just a little more room to play.”

Megan Hilty vamped in a body con Herve Leger bandage dress and platform Louboutins. “It looked so good on her,” says Hitzges. “She put that thing on and it was like, ‘This is a dress you should wear for everything you do!'”

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