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Megan Hilty sings Smash hits at the Goodman gala
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-05-15

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Tony Award nominee Megan Hilty has had some unforgettable performances in the past with Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked and as Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5: The Musical. As Ivy Lynn in the NBC series Smash, she sang a Grammy nominated song "Let Me Be Your Star."

Hilty just wrapped a Lifetime movie called Patsy & Loretta that will be released in October about country legends Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and her Disney Junior animated series T.O.T.S. with Vanessa Williams was just renewed.

She talked on the phone before heading to Chicago to sing for a gala.

Windy City Times: Hi, Megan. We talked a long time ago for NBC's Smash.

Megan Hilty: Thanks for talking to me again!

WCT: When you do appearances like you are doing for the Goodman Theatre, how do you put together a set list?

MH: By now, thankfully, I have put together a big range of music with the band. Sometimes I go places where nobody knows me or sometimes I perform for very theatrical savvy crowds. I take all of this into account. I always ask first who the audience is and what they would like to hear.

WCT: Do you have a standout song you like to perform?

MH: I always like to sing "They Just Keep Moving the Line" that Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote for Smash. It's a perfect song. Even though it's a newer song, it sounds like something we all know and love. It sounds like a standard. Even if you don't know Smash, the song will get you excited.

WCT: Do you tell stories in between songs?

MH: For these types of events, I gage the crowd. I have stories ready for just about everything and I sure can talk, but sometimes people don't want to hear that. When I show up I usually ask the event coordinator what the audience typically likes and what they would like me to do. I'm ready for just about anything!

WCT: The Goodman has had Kristin Chenoweth and Billy Porter in the past perform at their galas.

MH: That's great company for me to be in!

WCT: I've been telling them to invite Cheyenne Jackson to perform since I saw him at a benefit in the past. He's really good.

MH: He's amazing. We are putting together a show and working together this fall. I'm really excited.

WCT: Do you have a favorite musical of all time?

MH: Sweeney Todd. It's a perfectly written musical.

WCT: Are you based in New York?

MH: No, I'm in Los Angeles. We go back and forth every couple of years. When we were pregnant with our second child, we decided to put our roots down in LA. We will be back to New York to work, but bought a house here.

WCT: When you did 9 to 5: The Musical weren't the readings in LA?

MH: I started doing the readings and the workshops in New York, then we did the out of town tryouts in Los Angeles. I worked on that show for about three years.

WCT: What did you think of meeting Dolly Parton?

MH: It was life changing! She is everything we should all hope to be. She gets all of her business done, but treats everyone with the utmost respect. When she speaks to you, it's as if you are the only important person in the universe. She has a way about her that we should all try to emulate.

WCT: Talk about this new Lifetime Patsy and Loretta movie.

MH: We finished a couple of weeks ago. We shot in Nashville for about five weeks. It was a dream project from beginning to end. Every single person involved in the production was amazing. We legitimately didn't want it to end.

It's about the friendship between Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. There's a lot of singing in it. Most people know the story of the singers, but many don't know how close they were in the last years of Patsy's life.

On top of Patsy's insane vocal talents, she helped a lot of female vocalists start their careers. She sat them down and told them to make sure they are paid, offered advice and even gave them clothes to wear. The more I read about her, the more I fell in love with her. I feel lucky to have played her and delve into her personal life. She was a remarkable human being.

WCT: Did you visit the Patsy Cline Museum when you were in Nashville?

MH: I did. Now some of my costumes are going to be in the museum.

Her daughter, Julie Fudge, was one of the producers of the film. They had one of Patsy's daughter and one of Loretta's daughters, Patsy Lynn, both produce this. The families gave this story their blessing. Some of it is fabricated, but we wanted them to be proud of it overall.

WCT: And the very talented Jessie Mueller stars in it with you.

MH: I didn't really know her before this, but now I am a fan for life. I am going to stalk her to be one of her dear friends!

WCT: I saw you are doing some Disney Junior work. This is something you can show your kids.

MH: Absolutely! I have been working on the show T.O.T.S. for a year now and it was just picked up for another season. It's delightful. This show I am particularly proud of because it's so wonderful for little kids. We also get to sing a lot in it!

WCT: Do you have a gay best friend?

MH: [laughs] Yes, one of my best friends is gay.

WCT: I just thought after being in Sean Saves the World, you must have plenty.

MH: I guess two of best friends are gay then. I never really think about it like that. They are just my friends who happen to be gay.

WCT: Anything else you are working on?

MH: I am doing a ton of concerts and animated stuff. I am just waiting for the right thing to come along theatrically. I never knew I would love doing concerts so much. My manager told me to put together a show and I didn't want to. The idea made me want to have a heart attack and I got anxious about it. Once I started doing it, I realized I was in complete control over what I was doing onstage. I have fun with the audience now and really enjoy it.

The band is made up of some of my best friends. My husband is in my band, so we travel all over the world together singing the music we want to sing. A lot of the time, our kids come too, just not in Chicago. This is a vacation for us!

Visit GoodmanTheatre.org for tickets to Starstruck: The Goodman Theatre Gala on Saturday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Chicago. For more on Hilty visit MeganHiltyOnline.com .


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