‘Megan Hilty’s A Kennedy Center Christmas’

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“You know, today is a special day: 12/13/14,” Megan Hilty nonchalantly announces with her contagiously winning smile, reminding everyone that it was the very last sequential day of the century. Indeed, what a special day and evening, it was! Back by popular demand following two sold-out concerts last season, the multi-talented stage, film, and television star returned to The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater last night to perform a celebratory combination of Christmas favorites, along with a montage of her career favorites and classics from the Great American Songbook.

Megan Hilty. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
Megan Hilty. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Glamorously chic in a fabulous, form-fitting black dress, heightened with strikingly sharp stilettos, Hilty sashayed across the holiday-themed stage accompanied by a talented four-piece band (Musical Director Matt Cusson on piano, her husband Brian Gallagher on acoustic guitar, Dennis Keefe on bass, and Jack Deboe on percussion), showcasing a 14-song set that ranged from ones she sang on the Broadway-inspired NBC television show Smash, several Christmas standards, including “Santa Baby” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” other known musical theatre quantities, and a few selections from her debut pop album, It Happens All the Time. Versatile and charming, no matter what the genre of music, Hilty was vocally stunning and emotionally connected to the lyrics.

From “Jingle Bell Rock” to “Count Your Blessings” and a host of other well-received hits in between, including an introspective, toned-down rendition of Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter” and the Smash originals “They Just Keep Moving the Line” and “Second Hand White Baby Grand”, Hilty delivered a fun, festive musical production as only the “New Princess of Broadway” (Time Magazine) can, rousing uproarious applause and adoration from the awestruck audience in the intimate, 513-seat Terrace Theater.

Hilty’s diverse vocal style ranged from brazen belting to subdued simplicity that mined all of the emotion and comedy from her varied repertoire. Her animated expressions and infectious likeability greatly complemented her singing skills and charming banter, making her performance all the more enjoyable. Likewise, her handsome and pleasant husband Brian Gallagher on guitar was noticeably beaming nearby, and the two giddily exchanged repartee throughout the show. Their palpable affection and fondness for one another brought a lovely romantic dimension to the evening’s featured pieces.

To cap the 75-minute show, Hilty performed a two-song encore, bringing the house to its feet and roaring with appreciation: first, Jule Styne and Leo Robin’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Hilty’s interpretation favoring to highlight vocal brass over lyrical sass and, ultimately, finishing three separate times (big, bigger, biggest); and second, her daughter Viola’s favorite Christmas song (that she finds “soooo hilaaarious”), Irving Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” from White Christmas, gently cautioning to treasure and value all that has been given. After finishing each song, Hilty exited to lusty cheers, proving through her magnificent performance that she is destined for continued success.

Running Time: Approximately 75 minutes, with no intermission.

Megan Hilty performed on December 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM and at 9:30 PM at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC.  For more information on upcoming shows go to The Kennedy Center’s calendar of performances.