BWW Review: Megan Hilty a Smash at The Shubert
The Boston Gay Men's Chorus and Mark Cortale Present Broadway @ The Shubert with MEGAN HILTY, featuring Sirius XM Star Seth Rudetsky as pianist & host
Friday, September 18, 2015 @ 8 pm at Citi Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
Craig Coogan, BGMC Executive Director, Producer; Mark Cortale, Producer
Megan Hilty gave a wicked good performance at the Citi Shubert Theatre last night as she sang her way through her signature songs from the NBC-TV series Smash and selections from her Broadway appearances in Wicked and 9 to 5 The Musical. Sirius XM star Seth Rudetsky shined as pianist and host for Broadway @ The Shubert, presented by Mark Cortale to benefit the Boston Gay Men's Chorus. The BGMC has just made history as the first gay chorus to tour the Middle East.
Hilty starred for two seasons as Ivy Lynn on Smash, about the development of a Broadway musical on the life of Marilyn Monroe. She opened the program with "They Just Keep Moving the Line," and immediately took command of the decidedly enamored audience with her powerful vocal belt. Although the TV series was short-lived, a victim of poor ratings, it is likely that everyone in attendance at the Shubert was a fan of the show. Hilty rewarded them with the moving ballad "Second Hand White Baby Grand," a song about Marilyn's childhood piano, and a thrilling rendition of the anthemic "Let Me Be Your Star."
Between songs, Rudetsky stepped away from his accompanist role to become talk-show host, sitting down with Hilty to converse about her life and career. Several of her anecdotes provided a segue into the next song. She talked about being in Boston with her husband and one-year old daughter and described the "babymoon" they took in Paris shortly before the birth ("C'est Magnifique," "I Love Paris"). Having trained classically for her original desire to be an opera singer, she took Rudetsky's challenge to show her soprano chops with "I Could Have Danced All Night."
Much of the chit chat focused on audition stories and how Hilty got the roles she got. She won and then lost the role of Audrey in a tour of Little Shop of Horrors, but got the consolation prize of becoming standby for Glinda in Wicked on Broadway. She eventually took over the role for two years in New York, two years in Los Angeles, and six months in selected cities on the tour, including her home town of Seattle. She shared some fun stories about Glinda's entrance in the airborne bubble (filled with soap bubbles) and sang "Popular," sounding a little bit like Kristen Chenowith, but entirely darling in her own right. Since she never got to play the part, Rudetsky thought it only fitting to give her the chance to sing "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop and he happily obliged to be the other half of the duet.
Hilty appeared in the Encores production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (she belted out a stellar "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend") and will return to Broadway in January, 2016, in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the farce Noises Off, with Andrea Martin. On October 27th, she will be starring in a one-night-only concert of Annie Get Your Gun at City Center (she declined to name her co-star). In June, Hilty joined the other Smash cast members for a one-night concert of Bombshell, the fictional Broadway musical. It was so well-received that executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also produced the Bombshell concert, are developing a stage musical with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the composer/lyricist team who wrote the original songs for the TV series.
The dynamic duo of Rudetsky and Hilty put on a fun show that felt intimate in the 1500-seat Shubert (that was less than full). He is a terrific accompanist, getting a full sound from the piano, and an eager, yet easy-going interviewer. For her part, Hilty was relaxed and unguarded, sharing her stories as if talking to a gathering of friends. However, it really was about getting to hear her sing the songs from her best-loved roles. With her clear diction, exquisite timing, and a belt that can reach the back row, we'll let her be our star anytime.