The rising musical star led the series “Smash” playing an ambitious actress vying for the lead in a musical biography of Marilyn Monroe. She identified with the character, but, she says, “not to the point of getting ahead at the expense of others.”
Not so ironically, during the series she took time to appear in a concert production of the very Monroe-identified show “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” although she says, “The goal was to make it my own and stay away from the very stereotypical idea of a Marilyn performance.”
The iTunes store has also been filled to the Hilty, with songs from “Smash,” a recording of the “Blondes” concert and “It Happens All The Time,” a solo CD of nontheater tunes she released in March.
The smart and beautiful blonde just started production on the series “Sean Saves the World,” opposite “Will & Grace” alumnus Sean Hayes and Linda Lavin.
The show, which premieres in October, is a reunion for the pair, who shared an extended story arc on “Smash” about a narcissistic comedian (Hayes) headed toward a major flop while making his Broadway musical debut.
“At the time we had so much fun working together,” she recalls, “and afterwards we did the, ‘Oh! I can’t wait to work with you again!’ thing, ya know?” They had to wait almost a year “and I auditioned just like everybody else.”
Broadway musicals were not just a TV setting for Hilty. She spent extended time in a bubble playing Glinda in “Wicked,” and had to fill the shoes, vocals and look of Dolly Parton in the musical “9 to 5.”
She’s grateful for the small-screen exposure, but confesses, “There’s nothing harder or more rewarding than eight shows a week.” The new series is running a close second, though. “We have a live studio audience, so we know what’s working and what’s not. Immediately!”
She’s sanguine about the less immediate feedback of the larger television audience. “It will be interesting to see who tunes in and who stays with it. I don’t worry about ratings or anything like that. That’s not my job. My job is to show up, do the best I can, and after that it’s out of my hands!”
IF YOU GO
Presented by the Bay Area Cabaret
Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.bayareacabaret.org