DIVA TALK: Catching Up With "Smash" and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Star Megan Hilty

By Andrew Gans
04 May 2012

Hilty with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star Rachel York
Photo by Joan Marcus

Question: Getting to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, how did the Encores! role come about?
Hilty: Well, gosh… I think it was a couple of months ago, and my manager called and said, "Hey, do you want to do your favorite musical?" [Laughs.] I've never done the musical before, but I've always loved the film, and I've been a huge fan of the music forever. I used to have a cabaret — I still kind of do — it's called Megan Hilty Sings the Blondes, and I have a big medley from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. [Laughs.] I've been a fan of the music for a long time.

Question: What's it like now getting to actually play the role in the show that the songs are from?
Hilty: I'm in my third day of rehearsal, and I'm having the time of my life. John Rando is a genius, and I feel like we're having so much fun putting this play on. And, the whole cast is so fun. All the voices are amazing, and everybody is hilarious. I think it's going to be a really good show.

Question: Tell me a little bit more about working with Rando.
Hilty: Well, this is my first time working with him, and I've always been a fan of his work — I mean, who isn't a fan of Urinetown? I had a meeting with him about a month ago, and I think he's the greatest guy, and he's so smart. He really knows how to talk to actors and keep it really light and fun in the rehearsal room. I feel like we make so much progress in such little time, which is really great for us because we only have a week-and-a-half to put this on. He's just a lot of fun blended with a lot of brains.

Question: How would you describe the character?
Hilty: She is a lady who knows what she wants and knows exactly how to get it. [Laughs.] She is no dummy, even though outwardly people might assume that. She is someone who has been hurt by men before, and so she has this philosophy on life, and that is to use men to get the things that you really need — financial stability — so that you can depend on yourself. [Laughs.] She's a very, very strong independent woman with very strong ideas on life.

Question: Do you have a favorite moment yet for her or is it too early in the rehearsal process?
Hilty: Oh, it's so early. [Laughs.] We just worked on "Little Girl From Little Rock," and that was really fun. It has like 15 encores. It's hilarious. It's so old-school. We end the song, and you think it's over, and then I'll come running back on stage and keep singing. We do that over and over again. It's hilarious. [Laughs.]

Hilty in 9 to 5.
photo by Joan Marcus

Question: You're also working on a CD. What type of music will that be?
Hilty: Well, at first I thought it was going to be maybe musical-theatre covers with new arrangements or at least cover songs in general. But it turns out that we're going to do a lot of original music — not anything that I write. I am not a writer. But they've come up with some really great writers, and nothing's set in stone yet, so I don't want to say who they are just in case… But it's going to be a lot of original stuff, and I'm really excited because this is the first project that I've ever worked on that isn't character-driven. I've always had to mold my voice to whatever character I'm doing, and this is just me, so we're going to get in the studio in the next couple of weeks and figure out what that sound is.

Question: Where would you like to see your career go — now that you're on TV, but you also do theatre? What are your goals?
Hilty: My goal is to keep working. [Laughs.] Whether it's onstage or on TV or in voiceover or recording. I do not do well with downtime. And, I am a lot like Ivy Lynn in that I am extremely ambitious. I won't really go as far as she does to make those things happen… [Laughs.] But I want to do everything, and I don't think that's too high of a goal.

Question: What is your ultimate dream? Is it winning a Tony or an Emmy or an Oscar or all of them?
Hilty: None of them. [Laughs.] I mean, don't get me wrong, I would be extremely grateful if ever I were to be nominated or actually win anything — that would be a great honor, but that's not the goal. The goal is to do the best that I can do and keep growing. That sounds really, really cliché and pretentious, but it's true. I've been through award seasons, and that used to be the goal for me. And, realizing that that's not why I do this… [Laughs.] I do it for so many other reasons. And, to do it for a reward, while I would be honored, that's not where my heart is.

Question: When do you begin filming the second season of "Smash"?
Hilty: I think we're back at mid-July. That's the rumor I'm hearing.

Question: Do you know if there will be any changes in the cast?
Hilty: I have no idea. I don't even know what's going to happen to these characters! [Laughs.] Hopefully, I'll be back. But if not, I guess I'll do one of these other things. [Laughs.]

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Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.