From a Large New York Stage to an Intimate San Francisco Venue, Megan Hilty is a Star on the Rise by Kevin M. Thomas

Megan Hilty

Megan Hilty

If you’re a fan of Broadway and show tunes, you know Megan Hilty.
Her physical attributes have gotten her cast in shows playing Marilyn Monroe or Dolly Parton characters, but her great talent is what really has gotten her the most attention.
She’s spending the weekend being bicoastal. She performs at Lincoln Center on Friday, Feb. 6 and then flies off to San Francisco and performs Saturday, Feb. 7  in an intimate concert at 8pm at the Nourse Theater.
Megan Hilty as Marilyn Monroe in "Smash"

Megan Hilty as Marilyn Monroe in “Smash”

Her San Francisco appearance isn’t all Broadway show tunes, even though Hilty promises to bring tunes from her shows “Wicked,” “9 to 5” and TV’s “Smash.”

But the evening is hosted by Sirius XM Radio Star (and Broadway musical genius) Seth Rudetsky who will pepper in questions to Hilty between songs making it kind of an “Inside the Musical Actor’s Studio.” Hilty, who is good friends with Rudetsky, is excited to be working with him and in this format. “I will bring about 10 to 12 songs in the hopes to get to all of them,” she says, but since it’s more a spontaneous night, the evening could lead to her performing other songs, more fitting to what they’re talking about.
“This format is so exciting,” she says, saying the organic nature in the way the show is set-up and flows, it will truly be a one time show that cannot be repeated.
Hilty says she loves doing it like this as when she’s had to create a cabaret act on her own, it’s tough to come up with stories and comments to put between the songs. This way, at least she knows she has an interview pro asking her questions which of course will lead to the banter between music.
Hilty is very accomplished for a performer who isn’t quite a household name. She has played the Marilyn Monroe part in a version of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” and played Monroe in the acclaimed TV series “Smash” a few seasons back. Additionally, she was a popular Glinda in Broadway’s “Wicked” and took on the Dolly Parton role in “9 to 5,” a show she was sorry didn’t last long. “It doesn’t seem that the show really found love from New Yorkers and supporters,” she says, also agreeing that it opened at the heart of the recession.
She’s also played in a short-lived TV series with Sean Hayes.
Her TV appearances got attention from  the music industry and Hilty released a CD entitled “It Happens All the Time.” While it drew great notices from critics due to her strong voice, she admits some musical theatre fans were a bit disappointed as it didn’t include show tunes and was primarily a showcase to see if she can become the next pop star. “But don’t worry,” she says, “my next album is a live album of showtunes and standards and should make the Broadway fans happy.”
Her fan-base has increased since she was in the defunct “Smash” series and the show itself, she says, has gotten more popular since it was cancelled. “Smash”  has grown so much since it went off the air, she says, that there’s even a benefit concert coming to New York June 15  in which she will return as well as Katharine McPhee, Angelica Houston and other “Smash” cast members.
As far as “Bombshell,” the musical about Marilyn Monroe in “Smash,” actually becoming a real musical she doesn’t think that will happen – at least for many years if at all. “There is really no book to the show,” she says, pointing out that there are also just so many show stopping numbers that to sing them in one night would be near impossible and a strain on any one performer. “The songs were written to be a standout in each TV episode,” she points out, “so every week we would have at least one big elaborate number in each episode.” But to have a whole show with all that might just be too draining and long.
Hilty has been very happy with how her career has progressed. She’s developed a loyal fanbase thanks to her Broadway and TV appearances and she’s met some of her own idols. “Dolly Parton is the most wonderful person that I’ve ever met,” she says, adding that if you ever try to meet your idol, just hope that it’s someone like Parton.
She also enjoys having the luxury to pick and choose roles she takes these days. “With a husband and a 4 ½ year old child, I can’t just take any part any more,” she says, feeling lucky that she often performs with her husband (actor/musician Brian Gallagher) so they are able to bring their daughter along.
Hilty is excited to return to San Francisco. While she’s performed here before, she’s been here more often as a tourist. “My father used to have a business in San Francisco so we’d visit from Seattle with him on a regular basis.” Hilty loves the City for its people and food and her favorite tourist spot is Alcatraz. “We’d visit it almost every time and I find it to be the coolest and creepiest place,” she laughs.
To keep up with Hilty’s nationwide appearances, including her return to New York’s Café Carlyle, go to www.meganhiltyonline.com/concerts.php
There’s so much more to learn and love about Hilty but rather than reading it here, perhaps you should check out her show with Rudetsky Feb. 7. To get tickets go to http://www.cityboxoffice.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1987. Do note that Rudetsky will be back in April with Vanessa Williams and Varla Jean Merman and there’s a special discount if you buy tickets to both at the same time.