Photo Credit: David Andrako

Megan Hilty, a star of TV’s Smash, made a highly successful return to the Café Carlyle this last Tuesday. This is her fourth engagement at the prestigious venue. Hilty announced at the beginning of her show that the setlist for the evening was eclectic and did not have any particular or narrow theme. But the songs, in addition to being some of her favorites, were often road marks in her successful odyssey through the entertainment world.

After an energetic opening of “Gotta Have Me Go With You,” Hilty described how after graduating from Carnegie Mellon she had difficulty finding representation. Her career received a boost when she became a client of casting agent Craig Burns who was in the audience during this performance. Describing the frustration early in her career of not winning a role in a production of Little Shop of Horrors, she was ultimately cast in the Broadway production of Wicked and also performed with the touring company for several years. The story was capped with a distinctive rendition of the humorously insidious “Popular” from the Oz epic.

Hilty described how she came to musical theater through a circuitous route, originally having trained as an opera singer. The operatic technique was on display during her rendition of Lerner and Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Her medley of songs from Annie Get Your Gun was also particularly rousing.

Hilty’s patter reminded me somewhat of Lena Hall’s recent engagement at the Carlyle in that both actresses were very open about describing the parts they didn’t win as well as the ones they did. The public understandably tends to focus on a performer’s successes. The performances of the two ladies demonstrated that success in show business (as with other professions) is often built on a series of setbacks that are overcome with perseverance. But in retrospect, the success of Hilty and Hall also seems foreordained as both have wonderful singing voices as well as sparkling stage presences.

Megan also described her involvement in the development of the Broadway musical 9 to 5 and reminisced about her experiences with Dolly Parton who wrote the music for the production. (Hilty played the role Parton performed in the film.) Hilty said that “nothing would get passed by Dolly,” but she was always generous and focused on whoever was before her at any given time in the production, no matter what their station.

Hilty’s husband (Brian Gallagher) sat supportively to her left playing guitar. Towards the top of the show she jokingly said that she was not pregnant during this engagement, but apparently she did have a couple of very young children (ages 1 and 3) who she hoped were asleep upstairs. A couple of times during the show she admitted to being a little tired from keeping up with the tots, a comment with which I am sure any relatively new parent could identify. The admission also made Hilty seem very genuine.

Other members of the vibrant band, which apparently included at least one other recent father, were Matt Cusson (piano and music director), Jack Deboe (percussion), and Dennis Keefe (bass).

In addition to appearing in Smash, Megan has a wide variety of other television credits, including Sean Saves the World and The Good Wife. She has also voiced a number of animated films including Legend of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and Disney’s Secret of the Wings.

Megan Hilty performs at the Carlyle Tuesday through Saturday, April 28 at 8:45 PM. The Reverend Shawn Amos will also be appearing at the Carlyle this Friday and Saturday (April 20 and 21) at 10:45 pm.

And Woody Allen performs every Monday evening through June 11.

The Café Carlyle is located at 35 West 76th St. in Manhattan.