<

A Wicked Smash

August 2, 2017 5:00 am0 commentsViews: 3
Photo: Sidney Beal

Photo: Sidney Beal

Megan Hilty Comes to Town Hall

by Steve Desroches

Much like Provincetown, there is a discernible magic to Broadway. You can feel it, but it’s hard to describe with any pinpoint accuracy. The lights dim, the orchestra begins to play, and the curtain opens, transporting audiences to a whole new world. Those theaters in Midtown Manhattan create a magic that emanates far and wide, inspiring thousands across the country to some day make their own Broadway debut. Growing up in Bellevue, a town across Lake Washington from Seattle, Megan Hilty heard the chorus of the Great White Way.

The star of such musicals as 9 to 5, Wicked, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Noises Off as well as the hit Broadway-themed TV show Smash, Hilty’s own trajectory toward stardom is often referred to in magical terms. From a young age she was recognized as a standout talent going from a performing arts high school to several years of regional theater before going on to the prestigious and competitive Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and then landing the role of Glinda in Wicked less than a year after graduating. It all sounds so easy, much in the same way Broadway actors make putting on a show look so effortless. But the road to Broadway is a grueling one, and once you get there, once you accomplish your dream, the work really begins.

“There is nothing harder than doing eight shows a week,” says Hilty. “It’s a 24/7 grind. It’s a stamina thing. You have to pace yourself because you aren’t just doing the shows at night, but you’re working and reading other work throughout the day. And then there are auditions. Our main job is to keep looking for the next job!”

In the 12 years since making her Broadway debut, Hilty has maintained her in-demand status and rave reviews, garnering a Tony Award nomination in 2016 followed by the birth of her second child this past March. But between newborns and new scripts and scores, Hilty is buoyant with love of family and craft. And this Sunday Hilty returns to Provincetown, this time taking to the stage at Town Hall in one of her first performances since the birth of her son Ronan.

Hilty’s return to Provincetown is indeed a family affair as in between her performances on the Cape tip and at the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Barnstable she’ll be hosting a family reunion in Chatham. But as she explores Cape Cod she knows that no place compares to Provincetown, a place introduced to her by producer Mark Cortale and Seth Rudestksy, who’s encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway makes him one of musical theater’s biggest and most effective ambassadors. Rudetsky joins Hilty on stage as host and accompanist. Of all of her concert dates, Provincetown is the one she looks forward to the most.

“It’s one of my favorite things,” says Hilty. “I completely fell in love with the place. It’s magical. It’s kind of hard to put into words. I just love it.”

The word magic keeps resurfacing. Provincetown. Broadway. And now Hilty conjures up the word again to talk about Rudetsky, how his love for theater is so deep that it in turn creates a palpable energy that reinvigorates the star’s own affection, especially after a tough rehearsal or a day with a matinee and an evening performance. In his concert cum conversation format, Rudetsky’s fly by the seat of your pants style is fun and refreshing compared to the exact demands of a Broadway performance. And often he remembers more about an actor’s career then they do, laughs Hilty.

After her appearances on the Cape Hilty will soon take off for a series of concerts in London in September, followed by holiday shows in December with the Houston Symphony, and peppered throughout she’ll continue to do her voice-over work in animated film and television. It’s nose to the grindstone work, and she loves it, because that’s what goes into those magical moments. All of the hard work creates a spark when an actor and their audience connect. She laughs when she hears people speak of her own career as if it were a Broadway musical itself, especially as she remembers walking out on stage at the George Gershwin Theater as Glinda for the first time.

“I was horrified,” says Hilty. “I was so scared. There was this level of expectation, both by taking over the role of Glinda, and by playing opposite Idina Menzel, who is one of the most amazing people on the planet. She was so incredibly supportive and made the night really special. When we finished singing “For Good” is when I thought, ‘Oh my God, I just made my Broadway debut!’”

Megan Hilty performs with Seth Rudetsky as host and pianist at Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., on Sunday, August 6 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets ($35 – $150) are available at the Art House box office, 214 Commercial St., and online at ptownarthouse.com. For more information call 508.487.9222.