Megan Hilty

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Megan Hilty

Café Carlyle, NYC, April 17, 2018

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Megan Hilty
Photo: David Andrako

With Judy Garland’s classic from A Star Is Born, “Gotta Have Me Go with You” (Ira Gershwin/Harold Arlen), Megan Hilty swings back to the Café Carlyle for a mostly “musical theater” show. Her band—music director/pianist Matt Cusson, Dennis Keefe on bass, Brian Gallagher on guitar, Jack Deboe on percussion—join in with clean, close 1940s-style choral  harmony.

On this fourth engagement at the club, Hilty is upbeat and outgoing with patter that is a mix of giggly and earthy, with songs also from TV’s popular Smash by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. One of the selections from that series, “They Just Keep Moving the Line” speaks about the tough show-biz life (“I tried to go the distance/But they just keep moving the line”).
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Show biz demands determination and Hilty’s star power is hard-earned. While still at Carnegie Mellon, she auditioned for Little Shop of Horrors but was not hired, yet her renditions of “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green” (Alan Menken and Howard Ashman) show a tight connection with the show’s bittersweet Audrey. (Isn’t it time for a Little Shop comeback? Here is a perfect Audrey.) Notable is her pairing of two Stephen Sondheim ballads from Sweeney Todd;  she did not get the role, but is a winner with “Not While I’m Around” and “Johanna.” 

After graduation from Carnegie Mellon, she stepped on Broadway in Wicked as Galinda, the Good Witch of the North, and delivered Galinda’s chipper audience-pleaser, “Popular.” Later, in 9 to 5: The Musical, with score by Dolly Parton, Hilty sang “Backwoods Barbie,” a comeback song for Parton. Hilty’s versatility and style is impressive with comic flair, emotional interpretations, and well-trained vocals and breath control.
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Her rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night” (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe) targeted that high C at the end and it landed. 

At Encores!, Hilty delivered a medley from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun, including “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” a lesson well learned. Also at Encores!, she appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Jule Styne and Leo Robin) and who would argue about that after her show-stopper, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” sung with not-so-dumb blonde smarts. It made a sparkling “encore.”

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.