Megan Hilty is a multi faceted performer that has wowed audiences on Broadway in Wicked and 9 to 5. On TV you might know her as Ivy Lynn from the all too short lived series Smash or you might have seen her singing with the NSO on A Capitol Fourth. You can now add to the list of Hilty’s achievements jazz singer.
Jazz versions of Christmas music have been a part of the American musical landscape for many years so it was fitting that the first strains of music heard on the stage of the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre this past weekend were from Vince Guaraldi’s version of “O Tannenbaum.”
… ‘Megan Hilty’s A Kennedy Center Christmas’ brought many musical genres together for an evening of holiday cheer with a kick.
Once the modern day blonde bombshell known as Megan Hilty took the stage we were treated to a blend of show tunes, Christmas music with a jazz flavor and a Don Henley song thrown in for good measure.
Of the Christmas tunes sung, a few of my favorites included an ingenious arrangement of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with an underlined vamp from Vince Guarladi’s “Skating,” originally heard on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Another highlight was a pairing of the Christmas novelty song called “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” which was performed by Hilty’s husband guitarist Brian Gallagher and was paired with Hilty’s vocal of “Blue Christmas.”
Family around the holidays is a big thing for a lot of people but when you have a three month old daughter, as Hilty and Gallagher do, everything takes on a new meaning. This was illustrated at two separate points in Hilty’s concert. The first was with a song from one of the better musical adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Written by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens “A Place Called Home” is the perfect sentiment for love of home and family. The second song talks about something all of us should do the entire year, “Count Your Blessings.” Irving Berlin’s lyric teaches us to be thankful for what we have. With grown people diving over little kids for a Barbie doll at the local Walmart, Berlin’s song puts everything in perspective as to what the holidays SHOULD be about.
Hilty’s quartet was made up of four red-hot musicians. Besides Brian Gallagher on guitar, we had Matt Cusson on piano, Jack Deboe on percussion and Dennis Keefe on bass.
Cusson performed Frank Loesser’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Hilty and besides the great musicianship between the two, I took great pleasure in listening to duo bring up the fact that the lyrics in this song are quite creepy. Listen to it again sometime and you will see what I mean.
On the non-Christmas end of things we had “Popular” from Wicked and the anthem of ladies everywhere “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Then for something completely different Hilty performed a song by Don Henley solo cd called “The Heart of the Matter.”
You can’t have a Megan Hilty concert without a few songs from Smash and my two of my favorites were there in all of their glory. “Let Me Be Your Star” and “Secondhand White Baby Grand” are two examples of how if you took the songs that Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman wrote for the fictitious musical Bombshell and put that show on Broadway I think it would be a surefire hit. Who knows, maybe someday?
All in all, Megan Hilty’s A Kennedy Center Christmas brought many musical genres together for an evening of holiday cheer with a kick.
Running Time: 65 minutes with no intermission.
Megan Hilty’s A Kennedy Center Christmas was a one night, two performance only engagement at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre on December 13th 2014. The venue is located at 2700 F Street, NW in Washington, DC.
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