Songbook smash

Megan Hilty: In Concert

QPAC, Concert Hall

June 9

Megan Hilty.jpg

When Megan Hilty appears on the Concert Hall stage for her Queensland Cabaret Festival show, it is to resounding applause and rock concert atmosphere. It is a reception befitting the 2016 Tony Award nominee (for her performance in the Broadway revival of “Noises Off”), however, for many fans, she is best known as tough Broadway veteran Ivy Lynn on NBC’s musical-drama television series “Smash”, about the creation of a fictitious new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. And from the outset, the audience is treated to some superb renditions of the show’s original musical numbers, including ‘They Just Keep Moving the Line, ‘Second Hand Baby Grand’, ‘That’s Life’ and an outstanding ‘Don’t Forget Me’.

Hilty is a vocal chameleon as she takes audiences through a range of American songbook standards, sultry voiced in delivery of a deliciously Marilyn ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s best Friend’ and a perky Parton ‘Backwoods Barbie’, a persona that comes easily given her portrayal of Doralee Rhodes in the short-lived “9 to 5: The Musical” on Broadway. Between songs, Hilty shares stories of her Broadway career, including as standby before taking over the role of Glinda in “Wicked” and performing alongside Idina Menzel as Elphaba. And the show’s “Wicked” numbers, ‘Popular and ‘For Good’ represent a real highlight. “Popular”, in particular, is full or character and a wonderful bubblegum sound that belies the more melancholy numbers that follow within the show’s repertoire.

In both ‘The Heart of the Matter’, from her debut album “It Happens All the Time” and ‘Autumn Leaves/When October Goes’ from her latest collection “Live at the Café Carlyle” are delivered with deep conviction and emotion. It is a duet with her husband, guitarist Brian Gallagher, however, that represents the most comforting sound, as they sing a timely (given that “Little Shop of Horrors” is also performing at QPAC), guitar-driven “Suddenly Seymour” full of earnest yearning, as tribute to her casting fresh out of College, in the musical, that didn’t come to be.

Hilty may not be a dancer (by her own admission) but she sure is funny and “Megan Hilty: In Concert” allows opportunity for her to showcase her generosity as a performer as much as her range and timeless vocal sound. This is a hugely entertaining show full of humour, humility, honesty and immense talent, which has its audiences justifiably jumping to a standing ovation.

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