Megan Hilty’s career has sort of been the opposite of a Cinderella story: She’s constantly fitting herself into another diva’s shoes.
Equal parts girl-next-door sweet and lock-up-your-husbands seductive, the actress and singer got her big break in 2005 playing the future Good Witch of the North in Broadway’s “Wicked,” taking over the role created by the preternaturally perky Kristen Chenoweth. Next came “9 to 5: The Musical,” starring as sexually harassed secretary Doralee Rhodes, a character made famous on the big screen by Dolly Parton three decades before.
Then Hilty landed NBC’s Broadway-themed prime-time soap “Smash,” in which her character, Ivy Lynn, engages in a tooth-and-fake-nail cat fight to land the role of Marilyn Monroe in a fictional musical dubbed “Bombshell.”
On Saturday, Feb. 8, Hilty will take the stage with the Phoenix Symphony to sing a mix of standards and songs from her career on stage and screen, as well as from her 2013 CD “It Happens All the Time.” Selections will include the Sinatra hits “Luck Be a Lady” and “The Best Is Yet to Come” and Monroe’s signature “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
Although “Smash” got mixed reviews and was canceled last year after two seasons, it earned a cult following and was packed with juicy roles for a who’s who of stars from both Hollywood and Broadway — including Anjelica Huston, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Hudson and Christian Borle (a 2012 Tony Award winner for “Peter and the Starcatcher”). The show even spawned an original cast recording for a Broadway show that didn’t exist.
It was a huge career boost for Hilty, who currently stars on the NBC sitcom “Sean Saves the World.” She spoke with The Republic by phone about her career path from understudy to star.
Question: Is there a thread to the material you’ve chosen? How did you pick what you wanted to sing?
Answer: For this show, not really. They’re just songs that I really love. I do a combination of “Autumn Leaves” and “When October Goes” that’s probably my favorite out of all of them. There are some that I don’t want to give away. (But) I am doing “They Just Keep Moving the Line” and “Secondhand White Baby Grand” from “Smash.”
Q: “Smash” had such a great cast. Who was your favorite scene partner on the show?
A: Lucky for me, I got to do a lot of stuff with Jack Davenport (as skirt-chasing director Derek Wills), and he’s incredible. He’s the nicest person on the planet, and he’s done everything, so he’s got stories about everything. And Kat McPhee (the “American Idol” alum who played chorus-girl rival Karen Cartwright) has turned into one of my best friends on the planet.