A star was born as actress Megan Hilty paraded into the world of musicals, where she played Glinda in Wicked and Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5 on Broadway. She has also guested on numerous television shows, from Desperate Housewives to Ugly Betty.
Hilty is hoping to soon be a household name with the NBC series Smash hitting this week with cast members such as Katherine McPhee, Debra Messing, and Anjelica Houston. The plot revolves around the casting and production of a musical based on the life of performer Marilyn Monroe.
We talked with Hilty the week before the big debut.
Windy City Times: Heyyy, Megan. I heard you are still currently working on Smash?
Megan Hilty: Oh, yeah. We have about three episodes left. We have done 12 out of 15 right now.
WCT: So the first season is all about Marilyn Monroe being made into a musical, correct?
Megan Hilty: Yes.
WCT: I heard Steven Spielberg wanted to make every season about a different musical.
Megan Hilty: That was the idea when he first brought it to Showtime. Each season was going to making a new musical. Now that it is at NBC, they could still do that but they are hoping to ride out the Marilyn musical as much as possible. By the end of the first season it doesn't even make it to Broadway. Musicals take years and years to develop before they actually make it. So they are hoping to ride that out or bank on the fact that these characters are so interesting in their relationships with each other that it transcends that.
WCT: It seems like a good idea to have a Marilyn Monroe musical, but I don't know of one.
Megan Hilty: They have had one before but it was technically a flop. It didn't do very well at all.
WCT: Do you think they will make a real version of the production after the series?
Megan Hilty: I don't know but I think it is a fantastic idea. I know originally the goal at Showtime again was to develop these musicals and put them on Broadway.
Here, it is a little different. They are writing the music not only for the Marilyn musical but the lyrics in the songs and the tone of the songs actually fit the characters in the show and what they are going through at the moment they are singing it too. It serves a duel purpose, all of the songs do, so it may not be appropriate for a stage show.
WCT: That makes sense.
Megan Hilty: It is a great idea and would make a good starting point but these shows take years to produce so it wouldn't just pop magically at the end of the season. [ Laughs ]
WCT: You are no stranger to musicals. You did Wicked and 9 to 5.
Megan Hilty: It almost seemed too good to be true to find a script and a show that was about my world. It is an honor to be able to represent my community on TV like this.
WCT: There is a lot of hype about Smash being big. All the gays are aflutter about it!
Megan Hilty: Yayyyy, good!
WCT: I've had lunch with Katherine McPhee. How do you like working with her?
Megan Hilty: Isn't she lovely? She is so great and fun to do scenes with. We goof around all the time on set, when we are not shopping! When we are not on location we like to go shop or have lunch.
WCT: She's very pretty, too.
Megan Hilty: Oh, my goshlike a model!
WCT: Tell me about your character, Ivy Lynn. How do you relate to her?
Megan Hilty: Ivy is a girl that eats, breathes, sleeps theatre, like myself. She is a person that grew up in the theatre and that is all she ever wanted to do. She wanted to be a leading lady on Broadway.
When you meet her she has spent about ten years in the ensemble of various Broadway shows. She feels stuck and willing to do anything to make that next step to become a leading lady.
WCT: I thought there would be some catfights. Is that coming?
Megan Hilty: Absolutelyit's a nighttime drama! Are you kidding me? They have the two of us set up perfectly.
WCT: They make the point on one episode that you look more like Marilyn Monroe than Katherine does.
Megan Hilty: Maybe in some ways. I think both of us have different characteristics of Marilyn in us. I have got the blonde hair going for me, that is for sure!
WCT: A little bird told me Uma Thurman is going to guest star.
Megan Hilty: She's actually working with us right now. She's fantastic.
WCT: People will be able to order the soundtrack, right? Because they are going to want this music…
Megan Hilty: I think the plan is to have the big songs from the show available on iTunes the morning of the episode. So every Monday you will be able to go online and get the songs we are going to sing that night. People can hear what we are going to do before we actually do it.
WCT: So similar to how Glee has released a lot of their music.
Megan Hilty: Hey, if it ain't broke!
WCT: This is going to be more for adults. I think people think Glee is for younger kids and this will be an older demographic.
Megan Hilty: I sure hope so. It does tackle more adult themes but I think there is something for everybody. I think it is going to reach a wide audience.
WCT: Speaking of a younger audience, you made a cartoon called Dorothy of Oz.
Megan Hilty: Oh, yeah. I have a little voiceover career on the side. I am currently in an animated feature film called Dorothy of Oz. That will come out in the fall of this year. I think I have been working on it for a year and half now. These things take a really long time to animate and edit, especially when there music elements. There are some really great songs.
Bryan Adams is one of the major composers of the movie. The cast is ridiculous. It is Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short and Patrick Stewart. It is a crazy list of people.
WCT: How do people keep up with you?
Megan Hilty: I [ am on ] Twitter. Also, there is www.meganhiltyonline.com that two women run for me. They know more about what I am doing than I usually do! My parents don't even ask what I am doing, they go to the website.
WCT: Do you have a favorite all-time musical?
Megan Hilty: Into the Woods.
WCT: That's a good one!
Megan Hilty: It is the perfect musical. It is the musical that made me fall in love with musical theatre too. Once I got a hold of that soundtrack it was over. I wanted to be the witch. I wanted to be Bernadette Peters. I hadn't even seen it yet but just from the recording you get everything.
WCT: So you haven't got to play it yet?
Megan Hilty: No, but somebody told me they are making a movie out of it.
WCT: They are definitely making a movie.
Megan Hilty: Who do I call about this? This is the best musical ever!
Smash debuted this week so don't miss an episode; it airs every Monday. Go to www.nbc.com/smash for listings and details.