It's been an especially exciting year for singing actress Megan Hilty, the Wicked and 9 to 5 star who landed one of the lead roles in NBC's new musical series "Smash," which airs Monday nights and was recently renewed for a second season. In the hour-long drama, which was created by playwright Theresa Rebeck and features new songs by Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Hilty plays Broadway performer Ivy Lynn, a triple threat who, after several years of ensemble work, is finally given a chance to play the leading role in the workshop of a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Through many twists and turns, Lynn eventually loses the role, but don't count this determined character out just yet.
Hilty also recently signed a record deal with Masterworks, a subsidiary of Columbia Records, and she will soon star in the City Center Encores! production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, playing Lorelei Lee, the diamond-loving blonde made famous by Carol Channing. Directed by John Rando with music direction by Rob Berman and choreography by Randy Skinner, performances are scheduled for May 9-13 at the Manhattan venue. Last week I had the chance to chat with the busy actress, who spoke with refreshing candor about her many projects; that brief interview follows.
|photo by Will Hart/NBC|
Question: How did you originally get involved with "Smash"? What was the audition process like?
Hilty: Well, I auditioned like everybody else, but I was in L.A. They were casting out of New York, [but] the script stuck out like a sore thumb because it was about my world, essentially. And, I immediately wanted to be a part of it, but then I saw in the character description that Ivy Lynn was a dancer — not just a dancer, but part of the ensemble for like ten years, which means she was a dancer — which I am not! [Laughs.] I called my manager and was like, "I think we should probably pass on this" just to save myself from humiliation in the dance calls. She was like, "Just put yourself on tape and we'll see what happens." Luckily, they hired a choreographer, Josh Bergasse, who is incredible. He's the biggest star out of anybody in this show, and he makes it look like I know what I'm doing. [Laughs.] Thank God for Josh Bergasse!
Question: How long was the audition process?
Hilty: I probably found out within a week.
Question: Oh, wow, fast…
Hilty: Yeah, it was very, very quick.
Question: Did you have any idea that it was going to be as successful as it is when you first read the script?
Hilty: You can never imagine if people are going to like it or how it's going to turn out, but all I really know is that when we were doing it, it felt like we were doing something special.
Question: In what way has your life changed since you have been on the show?
Hilty: Well, a lot more people like to talk to me on the streets! [Laughs.] … Which is great. I love it. I love that people feel like they can come right up to me and tell me exactly what they think about the show and the character, and they get so into it. And, I love talking about the show with people. It means that they're invested in the show and the characters. It means that they're watching, so I love it. [Laughs.]
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