“I’m nervous,” Megan Hilty says, as we make ourselves comfortable sitting on the king size bed in the master suite of the two-story Carlyle Hotel penthouse. It seems silly for Hilty to be nervous, as she is no stranger to the scene at the famous Café Carlyle. She’s performed several solo shows at the venue, and this May, she returns for another two-week engagement (May 3-14), making it her third year in a row.
Earlier in the day, the star, known for her portrayal of Ivy Lynn on the showbiz-centric series Smash—arrived in a body-hugging Karen Millen dress and black patent Louboutins, looking anything but nervous. Now, she’s chosen to kick off her heels for a more comfortable look.
The star is also fresh off a critically acclaimed run as Brooke Ashton in the Broadway revival of Michael Frayn’s door-slamming comedy, Noises Off. “It was madness,” Hilty says of the show. “It was complete madness. That show is madness.” And as awards season approaches, Tony buzz has begun to swarm around the show and her performance particularly. “I love the Tony Awards and it would be an honor to be involved,” she says coyly. “But either way, I’ll be watching.”
“Constant madness” is a good way to describe the antics that happen in Noises Off, but it’s also the way Hilty describes her life. No two days are the same. Since giving birth to her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Viola, with her husband, Brian, the day-to-day has become a juggling act—a successful one, at that. When referring to balancing her career and motherhood Hilty laughs and simply says, “It’s happening. She’s never been left unattended, so that’s a good thing.”
Mornings usually start around 7 a.m., which is a treat for the star who used to wake up at 4 a.m. when Viola was first born. The family is intent on sharing at least one meal together every day. “We kind of came to a weird agreement that breakfast was probably the most realistic meal that we would always be able to share together because of our schedules,” she explains. After a walk through Central Park with the dog and the baby, mornings are completed with a breakfast of omelets and chicken sausage.
In the midst of chaos, there is one thing that Hilty can always rely on—her Nespresso machine. “I’m not a spokesperson, but I should be,” she proclaims. The star has at least four cups of coffee a day, after which, she usually loses count. “I make a bottle for the baby and coffee for me. That’s how the day really starts.”
After that, Hilty and her husband will trade duties, or their babysitter will take over as they both head out into the world to conquer the day. “There are always fifteen different things to do in one day,” she says. “Whether the dogs needs to go to the vet or the baby needs to go to the doctor or her classes she’s in.” While Hilty was performing in Noises Off eight times a week, a shot at a routine was a bit more obtainable. “It was great because I could put [Viola] to bed before I went to the show,” she says. Now, the family travels a lot so a routine is really nonexistent.
Hilty’s physique has never looked better, and yet, consistent gym time has been put on hold since rehearsals started for Noises Off. “I love working out and I love working with my trainers, but that time has become a luxury,” she says. “I can’t keep cutting into my sleep time.”
The star followed a strict workout regiment and nutrition plan to prepare for the show. Now, it’s more about maintaining than anything else, with nutrition being the key. She explains: “If I don’t eat too crazily, then I don’t have to do much to balance it out.” However, sometimes she slips. “My favorite food is tater tots,” she reveals. “I could live off tater tots and chicken tenders.”
While her days are long and busy, looking and feeling good is important to Hilty. She always stuns on the red carpet, but on any given day, you can find her rocking jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap—or in her Lululemon gear.
No matter what she’s wearing, Hilty takes pride in doing her own makeup—a ritual of great importance to her. “Sometimes I will take the extra time to make myself look fantastic just to go to the grocery store. I love transforming and making myself feel and look like I’m well rested,” she says with a laugh. When she does dress up, she gravitates towards female designers like Karen Millen, Rebecca Taylor, and Diane von Furstenberg. Intermix is her favorite store, and she knows where every store location is in New York City off the top of her head.
When she does have a minute to sit down, you can probably find Hilty catching up on her TV shows. Her current list of favorites includes House Of Cards, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Top Chef. She’s also obsessed with the new Zack Galifinakis show on FX called Baskets. “I watched it and immediately watched it again with my husband. It is perfect,” she says.
Relaxation time will surely become a luxury now, as Hilty’s two-week stint at the Carlyle is approaching quickly. The star insists that the intimate experience of seeing a show at the Café Carlyle is worth the price of admission. The 88-seat venue is a New York City landmark and has been the home to legendary performers like Elaine Stritch and Woody Allen’s jazz band since it opened in 1955. “There’s so much history here,” she says. “At first it’s intimidating and now I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”
This year, audiences can expect to hear a bit of a different set from the singer, who has built the show around Rosemary Clooney songs. “She’s one of my favorite singers, and I thought these songs would be really perfect for this venue,” she explains. Though Hilty promises that at least of few of the hit songs she sang on Smash have made it into the lineup. “I will be singing ‘Moving The Line,’” she assures. “I will never not sing that song.”
When she first started putting together her own solo concerts, she had doubts. She explains: “I never thought I would be doing concerts like this, ever. They make me nervous. What do I have to say?” But after five years of working on these types of shows, she’s starting to get the hang of it. “I’ve figured out how to really be myself onstage and not be scared about that,” she says.
There’s no reason to be scared of being herself, because everyone that meets her loves her. As we walk through the hotel where the photo shoot is happening, everyone from the managers to the busboys greet her with warm remarks and wide grins. The elevator operator exclaims, “We love it when you are here!” Judging by the smile she’s had on her face since walking in the door, she loves it too.