Review: Megan Hilty with the ISO 

****1/2
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Megan Hilty’s warm personality and classically trained voice proved a winning combo last weekend at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, where she performed before an audience of Pops regulars sprinkled with members of her energetic fan base.

The wide-ranging Hilty can be herself in a concert, chatting and surrounding a song with observations and tidbits about her life. But she has the vocal and acting range to portray diverse characters on stage, television and film. Opening with "Luck Be A Lady" and "The Best is Yet to Come," she made the Great American Songbook her own, merely nodding at Sinatra and duke-ing it out as ISO players took Cy Coleman’s big time brass to the hilt.

She gave due heft to "They Just Keep Movin’ The Line" as her Ivy Lynn character on NBC’s Smash. But she really owned the stage and the evening pairing with Gary Walters for the amazingly tender and beautiful "Secondhand White Baby Grand," evoking every ounce of Marilyn Monroe’s vulnerability and talent.

Switching genres, Hilty showed fearlessness with a seamless configuration of "Autumn Leaves" with "When October Goes," which she dedicated to her parents, who had come to Indianapolis from Seattle for this concert. Her vivacious warmth informed "Someone To Watch Over Me" before then she switched gears for her signature "Popular" from Wicked, the show in which she started her now stellar career in 2004 on Broadway as Glenda.

Hilty also reprised her role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, performing "Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend." The audience loved it and her — and the ISO players, who were having as much fun as I’ve ever seen them have. Attired in a royal blue strapless gown and sparkly ‘good witch’ shoes, the statuesque, vivacious, Hilty sent us home with freshly minted memories of Judy Garland shimmying through "Get Happy." Here especially Hilty showed she thoroughly understands that the true gift is being genuine.

Jack Everly and ISO players carried the first act with a bouquet of original overtures, starting with a handful of diva delights followed by George Gershwin’s "Girl Crazy"; a passel by Jules Styne, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bells Are Ringing, Funny Girl and Peter Pan; Jerry Herman’s Mack & Mabel; and Cy Coleman’s Sweet Charity.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

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Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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