Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pink Is The New Interview ... With Megan Hilty

Last week I was fortunate enough to get to do a short interview with Broadway star Megan Hilty who currently plays Glinda the Good in the LA Company of Wicked and will be playing Doralee Rhodes in the stage musical production of 9 to 5:

Megan and I chatted on the phone for a bit and we had a really great little convo. I recorded our interview so that I could post it on the blog but the sound file was corrupted and unpostable. So ... I transcribed our entire conversation for all y'all's reading pleasure:

TV: Hi Megan, it's Trent from Pink is the new Blog, thank you so much for talking with me. Let me start off with a usual question -- What was your first introduction to musicals?

MH: Well I got interested in musicals when I was really little, I loved the show The Music Man and I would always try to mimic what I was hearing. I wanted to be Whitney Houston originally, fortunately that never happened. I started getting into voice lessons when I was really young and because I was mimicking people's voices, people's bigger voices, they thought that I should start training for the opera ... and I found out that that was a very boring lifestyle, that people were really uptight. So I thought, How can I sing and still have fun and not be so worried about my voice all the time? And that's when I got into musical theater. I did youth theater every summer, I started doing all kinds of community theater stuff and then that led to performing arts high school and then performing arts university -- it was kind of a big snow ball effect.

TV: So you were definitely on track from a young age?

MH: Yeah, I'd say so.

TV: Which show is your favorite?

MH: Well, I started with The Music Man when I was little and then I saw Into the Woods and that became my favorite and then somebody showed me a video of Sweeney Todd and that's been my favorite ever since. It's my favorite, favorite musical.

TV: That's a great one, I have to tell you that I love musicals because they are such an inventive way, fun way to present a larger than life performance -- especially when you see them live in the theater, which is way better than seeing them on video or DVD. And, I have to tell you, Wicked is definitely one of my favorites. And your portrayal of Glinda the Good is stunning. I have to say, it is your performance of Glinda that really made the show one of my fave Broadway shows ever. Can you tell me the amazing things about working on Broadway and the not so amazing things about working on Broadway?

MH: Well for one, it's Broadway. Anyone who has ever dreamed of performing dreams of performing on Broadway. So it really was a dream come true when I got the role [of Glinda], which I got straight out of college. It was a real whirlwind. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me and the worse thing that ever happened to me at the same time [laughter]. I got this huge part in this huge musical and at the same time I was responsible for this huge part in this huge musical. And there is a lot of pressure involved with a part like that. And I put a lot of pressure on myself ‘cuz I was following in such huge footsteps (well, I guess such tiny footsteps) like Kristin Chenoweth's. But I came after two amazingly talented women, you know, some of the greatest comediennes on Broadway ... and singers, too. It's extremely daunting but extremely worth it.

TV: Yeah, I get what you're saying. I can't even imagine the pressure that other people put on you let alone the pressure that you put on yourself. But I've been hugely impressed with the way you made the character your own and I think you definitely become the character.

MH: Oh, thank you!

TV: I am very excited for the musical version of 9 to 5, in which you will star as the Doralee character. Can you talk about how your involvement with the show came about?

MH: Well, it's funny because I was up in Toronto performing in Wicked on tour and me and my boyfriend were sitting around and he's like, You know they're doing a musical version of 9 to 5, right? And I was like, Yeah I just heard about it. And he asked, Why are you not going after the part of Doralee? And I was like, I don't know! And literally the next day my agent called and said the director of 9 to 5 called and he wanted me to come in for a reading ... and I almost lost my mind. And the cast is so awesome, do you know who's in the cast?

TV: No, I don't actually.

MH: It's Allison Janney in the Lily Tomlin role and Stephanie Block who was Elphaba on the [Wicked] tour and on Broadway (I think she's on Broadway right now) ... and Marc Kudisch is Mr. Hart. And oh my God, the cast is so ... it's brilliant, it's brilliant. So I did the reading actually at the same time we were rehearsing the LA Company for Wicked.

TV: Really, I had no idea it was such a long time in the works.

MH: Yeah, it takes a long time to put together a musical, especially one like this. So yeah, we did that and then they kept me for the workshop which we did last summer, I took my vacation time to do the workshop and it was, like, magical. I've never been part of a reading that got such a great response, it kinda felt like magic in the room ... sorry to sound so corny about it but ..

TV: No, not at all ...

MH: But it really was, we all felt like we were a part of something really, really special.

TV: I think there are certain stories that when you hear that they are turning them into a musical you think, Of course that story should be a musical and I absolutely think 9 to 5 is one of those stories.

MH: And I'm telling you, there have been a few movies that have been made into musicals that haven't been doing that well but this movie translates so well to the stage. You know, especially with all the fantasy sequences and things like that ... it's amazing, cuz you know there certain songs that go into certain spots -- there's like a flow of different types of songs that each musical needs -- and it's perfect, it's genius.

TV: Oh, I didn't know that Dolly Parton was this involved with the show.

MH: Yeah, Dolly Parton is a musical genius, I can't wait to staring working with her again because she's so freakin' cool.

TV: Okay, I have to ask ... will there be any sort of "enhancements" to your Doralee costume so that you look the part that Dolly Parton originally portrayed?

MH: [Laughter] There will be ... there will definitely be needed assistance in the wardrobe. [Laughter] Um, I can only imagine it now, yeah. In the workshop I really played "the girls" up, too.

TV: I kinda have an image of how it might look and it's a good one, I think it's gonna be a great show.

MH: Yeah, I'm really, really excited.

TV: What can you tell me about The Meg'an Sho Show?

MH: Oh my Goodness, I am definitely excited about this. Shoshana Bean and I worked together on Broadway, we started out as standbys together and then we took over the roles (of Glinda and Elphaba) together. We're both originally from the Northwest and they asked us to do the Northwest part of the tour of Wicked together -- so we have worked together a ton. And we kind of assumed that we were gonna be doing the show together here in LA, too, but it didn't work out that way and so we were really upset that we weren't going to get to work together again. Then we just thought, Why don't we just do our own show? We've been asked by some producers who are interested in a new kind of variety show, kind of like a Carol Burnett Show meets an Ellen DeGeneres Show with performances and skits and stuff but there're also interviews and hot topics and stuff like that. So the Meg'an Sho Show is kind of a showcase for that, to try and see if we can work out a new kind of format for a new kind of variety show.

TV: So this is something you do on stage in front of a live audience?

MH: Everything is live on stage and it's in front of a live audience. Right now we have three shows booked and I think the first two are sold out already. And they are each increasingly larger audiences to see what works, what doesn't work, we're going to be constantly changing things ...

TV: It sounds amazingly creative ...

MH: Yeah, we've been having a lot of fun putting it together.

TV: And you do the show with Shoshana Bean?

MH: She is amazing, have you ever seen her?

TV: I have not.

MH: Oh my goodness, she is ridiculous, her voice is ...

TV: Well I will have to see about getting tickets for the third show.

MH: Yeah, just let me know if you need tickets and I will set you up with some.

TV: That would be amazing!

MH: Totally. To-tal-ly!

TV: Okay, you have an amazing voice, is there any chance that you might record an album of your own someday?

MH: I am slowly working on that. There are a lot of musical theater albums that are just, like, I dunno, I don't want to put out a typical "musical theater album". You know what I'm saying? I'm trying to put together something that is a little more ... I'll definitely have musical theater songs on it but they're going to be with my own twist. It's not going to be like, Okay, these are the songs that I do in my book or songs that people know me to do but I'm really going to take my time and do a really, hopefully, classy-ish album (well, as classy as I can get). But yeah, an album is definitely in the works.

TV: That sounds excellent, I'm definitely looking forward to that. Okay, last question, What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring performers who want to make it to Broadway?

MH: Um, the advice? Oh gosh. I guess you have to really understand who you are and why you want to be in this business. Because if you don't know who you are, you're not going to know how to market yourself and to go out for the right things. I think a lot of people have really grand ideas of how glamorous this industry is ... it's a lot of hard work and people don't really grasp that. And if you're not in it for the right reasons, whatever those are to you, then it's just not going to work. You have to really understand how hard it is.

TV: Megan, again, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and I definitely plan on seeing you as Glinda in Wicked here in LA at least one more time before you finish your run (Megan's last performance is May 11th) and I'm really looking forward to seeing you in 9 to 5 ... I'm such a fan, I just want to see you in everything that I can.

MH: Oh thank you so much, it's been a pleasure talking to you. Let me know if you need tickets and let me know when you come, come back and say Hi. Have a great day!

As I said to Megan, I am such a big fan of hers ... I fell instantly in love with her the first time I saw her in Wicked. She is an amazing talent and I know she is going to be a huge smash in 9 to 5. The show opens here in SoCal later on this year and will open on Broadway in 2009. If you're in the area you MUST see Megan in Wicked while you still can. I promise, you will love her too!