For all that can be said about the narratively chaotic and tonally incomprehensible making-of-a-Broadway-musical TV show “Smash,” it accomplished one undeniable good: It brought Megan Hilty into millions of homes. With the show days from airing its final episode and a new album of her own, it would be easy for her to have already moved on. But Thursday night at Symphony Hall, she proved that she could come out victorious even as she embraced the troubled show.
For the concert’s undercard, the Boston Pops saluted film music, and the resultant program was curiously slight. The richly lyrical “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With The Wind” was sweeping without bombast, and a Fred Astaire medley captured the swank elegance of a 1930s dance orchestra.
But a quiet Rachmaninoff piece (used in such love stories as “Somewhere In Time,” and “Groundhog Day”) was marred by an unidentified clacking somewhere in the room. And the Boston Cello Quartet’s “License To Trill” (built on a pun) was not an exploration of James Bond themes, just a runthrough of them.
Hilty’s set also seemed slight, but only because it ended far too soon. Opening with Sisyphean cabaret song “They Just Keep Moving The Line,” her voice rippled with power even as she held back. After that “Smash” number, Hilty walked the audience through her career, from summer stock (the comic frustration of “Alto’s Lament”) to Broadway — her debut in “Wicked” (the powerful earnestness of “For Good”) and then on to “9 To 5” (a Dolly Parton medley) — to “Smash” again and finally last year’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
Throughout, Hilty was practically vibrating with glee, so much so that when she and Keith Lockhart failed to come in at the same time a couple of times in the Parton medley, her response afterward was a comically relieved “Hoah, we made it!” And she nailed her short program’s disparate tones, never more so than on the closing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” where she turned greed delightfully bawdy and earned two encores. Hilty simply came back with more verses, and it was all she needed.Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @spacecitymarc.