MEGAN HILTY is a Blonde`s Best Friend



MEGAN HILTY is a Blonde`s Best Friend
is a
Best Friend
By Jena Tesse Fox
he’s made her career playing beautiful
blondes who are anything but dumb,
but when she takes to the City Center stage this month for her premiere performance at Encores!, Megan Hilty will go
back to what many might say is the source
of the cliché.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, based on the
1925 Anita Loos novel, follows the adventures of Lorelei Lee, an attractive blonde
who uses her wits to get what she wants.
And while the character may be nearing 90,
Hilty believes that she’s still relevant.
“She’s a woman who knows exactly what
she wants and how to get it,” Hilty says. “In
fact, The Encyclopedia of Hair has described
the role as ‘a fragile woman who relies on her
looks rather than intelligence—what some
people refer to as a ‘dumb blonde’.’ But if
you pay attention to the lyrics of the songs
she sings, it’s very clear that she is more
than a simple stereotype.”
The 1949 musical—with a book by Loos
and Joseph Fields, lyrics by Leo Robin and
music by Jule Styne—creates a much more
complex character than might appear at
first glance. Clever and determined, Lorelei is underestimated by just about everyone she meets in her journey from Little
Rock to New York to Paris, which leads to
much of the show’s comedy—and emotion.
“I love characters like her,” Hilty says. “In
fact, I’ve spent most of my career playing
roles that could be perceived one way but
end up proving that you can’t judge a book
by its cover.”
Hilty made her Broadway debut in
Wicked, initially covering the role of Glinda—another character whose entire personality is initially summed up by the color
of her hair—and then taking over the role
full time. She then originated the role of
Doralee in the musical adaptation of 9 to
5, recreating a character made famous
by Dolly Parton in the original film, again
finding unexpected depth in what might
have been a stereotyped cliché.
And now she is taking on yet another legendary role and finding ways to give it new
life for a new generation. Carol Channing
became an instant star when she created
the part in 1949, making the character
a towering pixie. And, of course, there’s
the Marilyn connection: Marilyn Monroe
cemented her reputation in Hollywood
playing Lorelei in the 1953 film of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and her rendition of
“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friends”—
complete with pink dress, red set and
tuxedoed gentlemen dancers—has been
endlessly imitated over the last 60 years.
Hilty, meanwhile, has come to national
prominence on the NBC series Smash,
playing an actress playing Marilyn in a new
musical biography. On the show, Hilty
gets to do a dead-on Marilyn impression
while simultaneously finding the heart of
both her character—ambitious young triple-threat Ivy Lynn—and Monroe herself.
Hilty won’t say how—or if—Marilyn and
her own brand of sex appeal will influence
this production.
“I’ve had a lot of experience stepping
into roles that have already been established by iconic performances—which can
be terrifying!” she acknowledges. “I constantly have to remind myself that I will
never please everybody because the expectations are set so high—instead, I try to
focus on finding a balance between paying
— Megan Hilty
homage to the brilliant performances that
made the roles iconic in the first place,
and making it my own.”
Hilty, for her part, says that she has
always been a fan of Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes. “The music is particularly appealing, and how could you not love Lorelei?”
In spite of the musical’s age, she feels it
will still have plenty to offer a contemporary audience. “I think audiences will love
it for the same reasons the film is still popular today,” she says. “It’s a fun, timeless
story filled with fantastic wit and splashy,
iconic musical numbers! What’s not to
Jena Tesse Fox is a lifelong theater addict who
has worked as an actress, a singer, a playwright,
a director, a lyricist, a librettist, and a stage
manager. She writes for

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