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Saturday, January 21, 2017

(OUTview NW) RE-view: Hometown girl Megan Hilty earns standing ovation at Benaroya Hall with Seattle Symphony Pops

by MK Scott

It was a full house at Benaroya Hall this past Saturday, January 14th, when Bellevue-bred turned Broadway and TV star, Megan Hilty, returned to Benaroya Hall for the first time since 2010, when she was the guest artist in the Seattle Men's Chorus' 'Holiday Glee' concert. This time she was invited by guest conductor Steven Reineke (from the New York Pops) for the Seattle Symphony Pop series.

The energetic Reineke led the full symphony with a montage of musical songs featuring Blondes, before introducing special guest, Megan Hilty (wearing a blue ball gown) singing Loesser's 'Luck Be a Lady.' The theme of the concert actually was 'Luck Be a Lady: Megan Hilty Sings Sinatra and More.' The seven-months pregnant, Hilty, 35, showed off her baby bump and announced she was expecting a boy to join her two-year-old daughter, Viola, due in March.

After singing Cy Coleman's 'The Best is Yet to Come,' Hilty spoke fondly of working with composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, for her hit TV series, 'Smash.' From that series, she sang two of their best songs: 'They Just Keep Moving the Line' and later 'Second Hand White Baby Grand.'

Hilty then told the story of when she was pregnant with daughter, Viola, how she had sang a lullaby rendition of Kermit's song, Paul Williams' 'The Rainbow Connection.' They always dedicated it to Viola, filming the audience to show her all the wonderful places she visited and the people she met. To hear Hilty sing it so tenderly felt like she was welcoming the audience into that circle of memories.

Then, when Hilty left the stage, the Sinatra tribute continued with the Symphony playing Cole Porter's 'I've Got You Under My Skin,' followed by Kurt Weill's 'Mack the Knife.'

Hilty returned to the stage with a mash-up of Johnny Mercer's 'Autumn Leaves' and Barry Manilow's 'When October Goes.'

Ms. Hilty then spoke of her first acting role after college when she was cast as Glinda in Wicked, a role she played for over four years. She also mentioned she had played opposite another NW native, Shoshana Bean, who played Elphaba.

When Hilty sang the song Stephen Schwartz's 'Popular,' she was able to mimic (original Glinda) Kristin Chenoweth's bubbly, nasal delivery.

Closing Act One, Hilty continued with her natural emulation of Marilyn Monroe with Styne's 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.'

Act Two opened with more from the Symphony with 'Symphonic Sounds of Diana Ross,' Carmen Miranda's hit, 'Tico-Tico,' Barry Manilow's 'Copacanbana,' and Kander and Ebbs' 'New York, New York.'

For Megan Hilty, now dressed in a pink gown with a black rose pattern silhouette, the second act consisted of a mash-up of Lerner and Lowe's 'Almost Like Being in Love' and Rodgers and Hart's 'This Can't Be Love' that further showed off the flexibility of Hilty's voice.

When she sang Gershwin's 'Someone to Watch Over Me,' I was reminded of when Nell Carter had sung that same song on that same stage with the Seattle Men's Chorus over 17 years ago.

Hilty's final song in the program was Harold Arlen's 'Come Rain or Come Shine,' the upbeat Judy Garland version that Garland sang at the Carnegie Hall concert. With Hilty's gift for mimicking voices (in this case, Judy Garland's) her delivery went off without a hitch. Ahhh-mazing!

After a standing ovation, Hilty continued the Arlen/Garland homage with the enchanting 'Get Happy.' By the time we arrived back stage to chat with Megan, she was clean and fresh and had already changed out of her gown and into black pants and black top. Despite her fame, Megan is still a hometown girl at heart.

This Review was also printed in the Seattle Gay News.

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