TV role a 'Smash' for Megan Hilty
BY RICK BENTLEY, The Fresno Bee
PASADENA, Calif. -- The curtain goes up tonight on the second season of the NBC musical drama "Smash."
There are some major plot line changes revealed in the opening moments, but one thing remains the same: Broadway star Megan Hilty's character, Ivy Lynn, will be in the middle of the musical madness -- ready to belt out a number when needed.
The fact she's back in the middle of the story line about mounting a Broadway production of a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe is a little surprising.
As the curtain fell on the first season, the future of her character looked bleak when she turned to a bottle of pills after losing out the lead role to her arch-rival, Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee).
Hilty says that's all behind Ivy. And besides, they never actually showed her taking the pills.
"At the end of the first season, you only see the pills in her hand. It's unclear what happens there," Hilty says. "I think she hits an all-time low in her life, a place where you make one of two decisions. She made the right one."
In the new season, the "Bombshell" team takes one step closer to achieving its Broadway dream. But its hopes begin to crumble when a financial scandal arises. Plus there's infidelity, budding love, back stabbing and the arrival of some new talent who could make this season a two-Broadway show event.
The one thing Hilty likes about the upcoming season is that Ivy's trying to change everything in her life -- both professionally and personally.
Hilty was a novice to TV before being cast in "Smash," but she's got plenty of stage experience that helped her play the role. She's had long stints on Broadway, including playing Glinda in "Wicked" and Doralee Rhodes in "9 to 5: The Musical."
Being on "Smash" means that Hilty not only has to shoot an episode every eight days, but learn and record the musical numbers and all the choreography. It sounds like a lot, but the stage veteran says nothing is as hard as doing eight shows a week on Broadway.
"If you can do that, then these 16 hour days are a piece of cake," Hilty says.
Hilty hasn't had to leave her love of the stage at the door because of the TV show. During the long break between the first and second seasons, she appeared on Broadway in a production of "Gentleman Prefer Blondes," another connection to Marilyn Monroe, who played the role on screen.
When Hilty gets back to the theater, she often hears from her friends that "Smash" isn't a true representation of the theater world. She laughs and tells them that she doubts doctors sit around grumbling about how medical shows don't accurately reflect their profession.
Hilty has made suggestions to producers about how some more of the real theater world can be brought into the show.
Several of her suggestions will be used in this second season, including the theater tradition of the Gypsy Robe ceremony that occurs before the opening of all Broadway shows.
For Hilty, one of the highlights from the first season was having Broadway legend Bernadette Peters play her mother.
"I'm still such an idiot around her because she's my idol. Growing up, I wanted to be her. She inspired me to be in theater in the first place," Hilty says. "The fact that she's not only on the show but also playing my mother and we have all these intimate scenes together is crazy."
In the few moments Hilty had between hanging with her idol, working on the TV show and the stage production, she recorded an album of pop covers. It will be released in March.