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Hilty brings 'Luck' to her performance with Pittsburgh Symphony Pops

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Megan Hilty during Happy Birthday Benedum Gala at The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the Benedum Center on Saturday, September 29, 2012.
Megan Hilty
Pittsburgh Symphony
Megan Hilty

Vocalist Megan Hilty has been hailed as the “new princess of Broadway” by Time magazine. Her professional break came starring as Glinda in “Wicked.” Since then she's starred in revivals of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “9 to 5,” and been a hit on television in “Smash” and “Sean Saves the World.”

“I'm so excited to be coming back to Heinz Hall. I used to work the Fiddlesticks programs for kids,” says Hilty, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate. “Once a month, I'd sing songs for the kids and dance around with a giant cat. It will be nice to come and do some adult stuff.”

Hilty and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, conducted by Steven Reinecke, will present “Luck Be a Lady” at concerts June 19 to 22 at Heinz Hall, Downtown.

Her program includes songs identified with Frank Sinatra, such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “New York, New York,” and “I've Got You Under My Skin.” Naturally, she'll perform songs she's done on Broadway, including “Popular” from “Wicked” and “Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend,” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” She'll also do a Diana Ross medley.

From a very early age, Hilty thought she would go into classical music because that's what her voice teacher was grooming her for and she loved it. She also loved to go to Seattle Opera and went to opera camp at San Francisco Opera.

“It was about the time I went to opera camp that I kind of realized musical theater fit my personality a little better,” she says. “While I have very deep respect for opera singers and secretly wish I could be one, I think it requires a little more discipline than I was ready to have, in a way. I never felt too precious about my voice or let it rule my life. My priorities were a little bit different.”

Hilty completed her studies at CMU in 2004 and says the school “prepared me in ways I couldn't quite realize until I graduated. I've had a lot of long, hard days, especially on ‘Smash' — good 16-hour days, while filming and rehearsing and in the sound studio and bouncing around from one thing to the next. I remember looking at my schedule at CMU and thinking, ‘I can't get through this.' CMU is a great program and prepares you for these demanding schedules. There's nothing grueling when you love it.”

In fact, Hilty won the starring role in “Wicked” at the end of her senior year, just before she graduated. The night before the audition in New York City, she saw the show from fifth-row center and sobbed.

“By the time I came in, this show had become the biggest thing on Broadway. Kristin Chenoweth had set the bar so high I panicked a little bit,” she says. “I went back to my hotel room and thought, ‘I'm not as funny or charming as Kristin. How do I make this work for me?' ”

Figuring out what she could bring to the role prepared her for success in taking on other iconic roles, such as Carol Channing's in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Hilty often gives concerts with her husband, actor and singer Brian Gallagher. They recently completed a two-week run at The Carlyle hotel in New York City.

“We have a concert we do with a four-piece band, ‘Smash' songs, jazz standards and Broadway musicals,” she says.

Their first child, a girl, is due in about three months.

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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