Megan Hilty has built an impressive life from second-hand parts.
“Most of my career (is) basically stuff that other people have already made ridiculously famous,” said Hilty, who has a special Friday (May 24) on PBS.
That started as Kristen Chenoweth’s stand-by in “Wicked,” on Broadway. “It was terrifying …. My Broadway debut, I had two-hours’ notice. It was opposite Idina Menzel, shortly after she won her Tony. And I’d never done the show with people before.”
Later, she was Doralee in Broadway’s “9 to 5” … with the movie Doralee (Dolly Parton) standing nearby. And she got a Tony nomination as Brooke in “Noises Off” … as two previous actresses did.
She’s even stepped in the shadows of two icons: Snow White (as her singing voice in “Shrek the Third”) and Marilyn Monroe. On TV’s “Smash,” she played an actress preparing to play her; she also filled the Monrole role in a short-run “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
And now, finally, this PBS special lets Hilty be herself. Which is?
…. Well, not easy to say. “The whole point of doing a concert is to let people know who you are,” she said. “And I’m kind of all over the place.”
So she’ll do everything – from “Smash” to pop to Broadway. “Megan can sing just about anything,” said Andrew Wilk, the “Live at Lincoln Center” producer.
She’s also all over the place geographically. Hilty grew up in Washington state, went to school in Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon) and then bounced between coasts.
It’s been “two years in New York, two years in (Los Angeles), two years in New York, two years in L.A.,” she said. When their daughter turned 2, she and her husband, Brian Gallagher, “thought, ‘Let’s go where the sun is shining.’”
(At least, it sometimes shines. Hilty happened to be talking to the Television Critics Association shortly after hearing that their Studio City house might be flooding.)
Gallagher is a skilled guitarist who will also be in the PBS special. “We met in a bar, because we’re classy,” Hilty said. “We got married in Vegas, because we’re classy.”
She throws those lines around with the casualness of an old friend … albeit one who looks a bit like Monroe and is fond of Dolly-like mega-heels.
That’s part of what Wilk calls her “infectious charisma.” She’s a blonde bombshell who crosses the continent with husband and kids, ages 4 and 2. “Our life is absolutely insane,” Hilty said.
But in a good way. Just don’t try to crystalize it into a TV concert.
— “Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m. Friday (check local listings) with Megan Hilty. That’s followed at 10 p.m. by a rerun of last year’s special with Sutton Foster.