Megan Hilty is most known for her role as chorus-girl-turned-Broadway-star Ivy Lynn on NBC’s drama Smash, which ran for two seasons and ended in 2013. Although the show was short-lived, Hilty was one of the bright spots on the series, and is still recognized today. “It’s crazy,” says Hilty. “Smash has been off the air for five years and—I’m not joking—every single day, people ask me about it. It’s a mourning thing. They ask, ‘Is it coming to Netflix? Is it going to Broadway?’” While Smash may not be coming back, fans of the actress can see her perform at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University on Saturday, October 20.
Hilty’s show at the Staller Center will be a mix of show tunes, songs from Smash and other songs the actress loves. “It’s my favorite thing to do,” says Hilty, who has starred on Broadway, television and appeared in film, as well as lent her voice to various animated series. But performing a one-woman concert at first seemed daunting. “They terrified me in the beginning!” she admits. “My manager was like, ‘put together a concert show,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that makes me really nervous! I thought it had to have a theme and a beginning and a middle and end and my manager was like, ‘The whole point of these concerts is for the audience to get to know you.’”
Hilty fell in love with show business at a young age. “When I was really young, I did youth theater stuff and I thought I was going to be an opera singer or a legit soprano…like old-school soprano in musical theater and then I realized that nobody wrote that type of voice anymore, so I guess I had to learn how to scream,” she laughs. “I learned how to belt and go into musical theater.” In 2005, Hilty was cast in Broadway’s Wicked as Glinda, a soprano role.
In 2012, Hilty joined the cast of Smash, which included Katharine McPhee, East End regular Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston and various theater actors. Hilty’s character, Ivy, was a struggling actress who desperately wanted to play Marilyn Monroe in the new Broadway show Bombshell. Her troubled character at first lost the role but eventually went on to star in the show and win a Tony award. Hilty says that her theater background prepared her completely for the role of Ivy. “It was everything,” she notes. “I said, ‘I know this person!’ My interpretation of her is a combination of five different people I know. I come from this world, and I feel like I know these things pretty intimately.”
After Smash, Hilty starred on the sitcom Sean Saves the World opposite Sean Hayes, who had guest-starred on Smash. “He’s a dreamboat!” Hilty exclaims. “When Smash was over, he and NBC were like ‘We’ve got this role,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t even care what it is as long as I get to work with Sean again! He’s lovely and super generous.” Hilty jokes that she’s pitched the character of Ivy Lynn somehow crossing over to the rebooted Will & Grace, which stars both Hayes and Messing.
Following her Staller Center concert, Hilty will head to the Kennedy Center for the Broadway Center Stage production of Little Shop of Horrors. Hilty notes that audiences can get a taste of her performance at Staller, where she’ll sing a few songs from the show.
The multi-talented Hilty is loving where her career has taken her. “I like doing everything and not in any particular order,” she says. “I love doing these concerts and my voiceover stuff, and I’m lucky I can do that until the right project comes along. I want the next thing to be right. I want to do it all, but I want all of them to be good! I want to feel like I’m doing something important!
See Megan Hilty at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook on October 20. For tickets and more information, visit stallercenter.com.