A ‘Smashing’ Star: Meet Megan Hilty

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Arts & Film, Arts Our Town, Arts Our Town Downtown, Arts West Side Spirit, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, TV, West Side Spirit.


Megan Hilty in NBC's "Smash"

The character Ivy Lynn on Smash, NBC’s new musical drama series, wants to be a star. Megan Hilty, the actress who plays her, already is. Having made her debut in Wicked a decade ago, the 31-year-old has also starred in 9 to 5 and just wrapped a role as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at City Center. Now, while recording her first solo CD, the Broadway luminary can be found in her Upper West Side neighborhood talking with fans. They are known to stop her on the street by yelling out one word, “Smash.”

(By Angela Barbuti)

When did you first grace Broadway?
I was just out of college and got the standby for Glinda in Wicked. I ended up making my Broadway debut standing in a bubble opposite Idina Menzel, which was amazing. I had just graduated college, so I must have been 23.

Would you consider Wicked your big break?
Oh, absolutely. I owe everything to that show and Joe Mantello [the director]. I spent four and a half years of my life in it. It was an amazing platform, both in New York and L.A.

What is a typical day like on the set of Smash?
It’s long, but really fun—especially for me and Kat [McPhee], When we’re not shooting, we’re in the recording studio, learning choreography or at costume fittings. It’s such a great group of people, so there’s a lot of laughter on set. We’re always goofing around.

Are there similarities between Ivy and yourself?
I would say the biggest is our ambition. I think Ivy’s willing to go a little farther [laughs] and sacrifice more to make her dreams come true. I think one really relatable thing about Ivy is that everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck in their jobs, dying to do anything to take that next step, and feel like people don’t see their full potential. I don’t believe you have to be a theater person to know that; I think that’s pretty universal.

Bernadette Peters plays your mother on the show. Is it true she is the only person you ever wrote a fan letter to?
It’s so true! I knew I was going to meet her when I performed for her at a gala while I was in college. I needed her to know how important she is to my career and life, so I wrote this big letter and handed it to her. There was no return address; I didn’t want her to do anything. She was nice when I told her about it; she pretended to remember it [laughs].

You have said you are not a great dancer. How do you fake it on television?
I would say that I move well, but the rest is Josh Bergasse. He’s an incredible choreographer and knows how to play to people’s strengths and make it look like we know what we’re doing—or at least me. Everybody else really does know what they’re doing!

Can you give us some hints about the next season?
Not really, because I don’t know of anything that’s actually been cleared to be written. I’m hoping that Ivy gets it together a little bit and gets to have something that she can really celebrate and not feel totally threatened and insecure about. And maybe a really cool boyfriend, who actually treats her nicely.

Were you surprised to learn that Ivy sleeps with her rival’s boyfriend?
That was one of the moments where my jaw hit the floor! I couldn’t believe that I didn’t see it coming, that ultimate betrayal. It was definitely one of the juicier moments of the season.

Describe the CD you are recording.
[It’s] all songs from the movies, so they’re recognizable, with new arrangements. Hopefully it will be out early next year.

You said that people notice you more now…
It’s great that fans are excited about the show, and I love talking about it with people. They have very strong opinions and have no problem coming right up and telling me! Sometimes they just scream “Smash” at me. I’m not quite sure what to do with that [laughs].

In your opinion, what is the best show on Broadway at the moment?
It’s a tie between Peter and the Starcatcher and Venus in Fur.

What role would you like to play on Broadway?
That’s another tie: Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and the Witch in Into the Woods.

How would you describe Broadway in one word?
Magical.

You recently tweeted that you dyed your hair blond. Are you a natural blonde?
Oh yeah, just not as blond as I have it now [laughs].

What advice would you give a young person trying to make it as an actor in New York City?
If you really want to be an actor, you have to figure out why. Ask yourself why your heart’s in it, because if it’s not in it for the right reasons, this town will eat you up. There’s a huge misconception that this job is glamorous, and it’s anything but. Even when you think you have the greatest job in the world, it could end tomorrow. And be nice. Not only is it nice to be nice, but you don’t want to burn any bridges. You never know if the person’s who’s getting you coffee one day could be your boss the next.
For more information on Hilty, check out www.meganhiltyonline.com.

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