The television series Smash may have ended, too abruptly for some, but its memory lingers. At center in the first season, Smash featured the competition between two very talented young women to bring Marilyn Monroe to life in a new musical. Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn effortlessly looked the part. Last night the Cafe Carlyle was filled with fans for this bold blond, now pregnant, with a confidence that suggests Lorelei without the fragility. Singing the classic from Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," Hilty knew how to work that intimate room, even asking for a volunteer to tape her on iPhone for the daughter she and guitarist Brian Gallagher are expecting. Few performers become that familiar, and few shows are this engaging.
The set included some tunes from Smash, "They Just Keep Moving the Line" and "Second Hand White Baby Grand," with Hilty telling a story about Monroe and her mother, who had bought her a piano that later had to be sold. When Marilyn made money, this was the first thing she bought. Mariah Carey now owns it. Original material from the Smash songwriters, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the songs illustrate just how much talent has emerged from the ill-fated show.
Hilty sang duets with her husband ("It's Almost Like Being in Love/This Can't Be Love") and the music director Matt Cusson on piano ("You Don't Know Me"), creating a mock rivalry. Ryan Hoagland on percussion and Dennis Keefe on bass completed the excellent band. Claiming she had not known "Autumn Leaves" and "When October Goes," Megan Hilty sang a knockout medley of these standards. I'd catch this act before she stops for baby time. To judge by her performance, it's true what they say about blonds and fun.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.