“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” confessed the diminutive blonde Duff, “she wouldn’t have for me, either.” The Texas twosome is a tight sister act, from all appearances. “I got emotional. I did. She’s my sister, and she blew me away. I’m so impressed with her — and with everyone up there on that stage, really. I think it’s uplifting when a woman sits there in the audience and says, ‘That’s me, that’s me. That has happened to me.’ It was just endearing and warm, and I love all that.”
Enough to give theatre a whirl herself? She backed off a bit. “I’m really scared to do that, actually. I don’t know why. I’ve been on tours before. Obviously, shooting movies, I feel, is much easier — but I think if something came along that I loved and I felt I could dedicate my life to, I would do it. It’s just that I haven’t found that thing.”
Hilary came to recording stardom from the “Lizzie McGuire” children’s television show and the “Cheaper by the Dozen” movies, but she would rather go into theatre the dramatic route instead of musical. “If I was lucky enough to come across something great, I think I’d prefer to do acting — because it would challenge me and I feel I could learn from it. A musical would be fun too, but I feel I’ve done that — on tour.”
Either way, her big sister’s success on the boards makes her want to follow suit. Haylie made her Broadway debut in 2006 as an Amber Von Tussle replacement in Hairspray. “I had two weeks to learn that,” she remembered. “It was my dance captain who taught me that show, but this one is a little different: three days.”
Still, she cherished the experience. “I feel so honored to be sitting next to the women on that stage. There’s so much talent and so much love that I feel from all of them. I feel like I’m just now scratching the surface of what I’m going to experience here. The thing that was funny about this show is that it’s only for a month so I feel as though, by the end of the month, we’re just going to be hitting our stride. But it will leave it open to maybe coming back at another time and playing with other people.”
Penny Fuller, Sharon Lawrence, Myra Lucretia Taylor and Ashley Austin Morris are her co-stars through July 25 in this funny “chick show” by Nora and Delia Ephron.
— Harry Haun