It was a “Smash”-ing evening at the Barns at Wolf Trap last night as Broadway and TV star Megan Hilty lit up the stage with some of her signature songs. Hilty’s vivacious and energetic stage presence, combined with her brassy Broadway vocals, have earned her legions of fans who were more than happy to brave the sudden thunderstorm this evening in order to see her.
Known for her various Broadway credits, including starring as “Glinda” in Wicked, as well as leading roles in 9 to 5: the Musical and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Megan Hilty gained widespread fame while starring in the TV musical drama Smash. The song “Let Me Be Your Star,” which she performed on Smash, earned her an Emmy and a Grammy nomination. She was joined onstage by her husband Brian Gallagher on the guitar and Matt Cusson on piano.
Hilty opened the show with one of her show-stopping numbers from Smash—“They Just Keep Moving the Line.” Her high-energy, sparkling performance set the stage for the rest of the concert, as she wove her way through some of her greatest hits, including one of the funniest performances of “Popular” that I have ever seen. Her comic gifts were also evident in a rousing, knowing version of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” that she managed to make entirely her own—a great feat when the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Carol Channing loom over the song!
Part of Hilty’s charm lies in her ability to find and express the emotional heart of each song. She sang a tender, simple cover of “The Heart of the Matter” that purely expressed the resignation and sadness of moving on from a relationship. She has such range—both emotional and vocal—going from big and resonant to quietly emotional in a natural, beautiful way. Her beautiful rendition of “Second Hand White Baby Grand” from Smash was a perfect example of this range.
She also sang a fun duet with her husband, Brian Gallagher, of “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors. While Gallagher’s more bluesy, rougher style doesn’t always meld well with Hilty’s style, the clear affection they have for each other and the fun that they have singing together is quite infectious.
Also, someone needs to cast Hilty as “Audrey” in Little Shop ASAP–If her performance of “Suddenly Seymour” tonight is any indication, she’ll be fantastic. Other concert highlights included “Backwoods Barbie,” in which she sounded eerily like Dolly Parton, and a soulful, moving rendition of “Ballad of the Sad Young Man.”
The biggest applause of the night came for her version of the theme from Smash: “Let Me Be Your Star.” After the vocal skill and charm the audience heard and saw tonight at The Barns, we are more than delighted to “Let Her Be [our] Star!”
Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission.