by: Susan Hasho
Megan Hilty was all lit up Friday night at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room for her American Songbook Concert. She was inspired by her 3-year marriage to musician Brian Gallagher —who was one of the musicians onstage with her—her new daughter and certainly the beautiful energy of the Appel Room itself with all the lights of New York City in the view behind her. She brought all that energy to her concert and joyfully sang songs from her past shows—Smash, 9 to 5, and Wicked, as well as some carefully chosen classics.
One of the best things about the TV series Smash was watching Megan Hilty break down every blood barrier to win the role of Marilyn. Her first song of the evening was They Just Keep Moving the Line (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) from the show. It’s a powerful song about the climb to success, and her performance of it set the bar high for the rest of the evening. Never fear, she has resources to burn. The Best Is Yet to Come (Leigh/Cy Coleman) kept a careful vocal build and a tension going to the end to lovely effect. Popular from Wicked was playful and witty fun, as was the dastardly challenging Alto’s Lament (Heisler/Goldrich) which Hilty does with every broad, funny note, on key and off, pushed out there to dazzle. She went to a serious side with ease singing The Heart of the Matter (Don Henley/J.D. Souther) and pulled out of it singing a duet with her pianist Matt Cusson, (a charmer all in his own right) of That’s Life (Thompson/Gordon).
Second Hand White Baby Grand from Smash (Shaiman/Wittman) was a high point of the night because she hooked up all the strength of her voice and her emotional life and let it connect unfiltered with the audience. She has a lot of range and a great sense of fun; it was satisfying to see her get closer to her more serious side.
Megan Hilty is a gorgeous, talented woman who is clearly happy and able to move in the direction of her gifts. She now has a family to travel with her and talks about it with such love. It will be fun to buy another ticket to that ride soon and see what she comes up with next.
Matt Cusson, piano; Brian Gallagher, guitar; Dennis Michael Keefe, bass; and Jack DeBoe, percussion.
The Appel Room; Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P Rose Hall
For tickets, call 212-721-6500.
*Photos: Maryann Lopinto