She is not Marilyn, but she plays one on TV. At least, she will play one if the powers behind "Smash," the NBC soaper about the creation of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, decide to cast her character as the star.
Meanwhile, the Marilyn-ization of Megan Hilty continues through Sunday at the Encores! deft and lavish resuscitation of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," the musical-comedy that put Carol Channing on the theatrical map in 1949 as Lorelei Lee but made Monroe a silver screen pinup in 1953.
This production, the last and the most enjoyable of the series this season, reveals just about what one might expect from this lightweight not-quite-classic. The onstage orchestra, directed by Rob Berman, makes the most out of Jule Styne's infectious music. It was written 10 years before "Gypsy," and the composer has a wonderful way with the brass section, with vocal blends in the chorus, winking musical jokes and unpredictable rhythmic nuance. The story, adapted from the 1925 Anita Loos novel, is the popular American tale of the good-hearted, not-so-dumb blonde gold digger who, thanks to Leo Robin's jolly lyrics, can rhyme "stiff knees" with "Tiffany's."
Hilty makes a curvy, pleasant, unsurprising Lorelei, who loses one millionaire fiance before embarking on the ship Ile de France to Paris, collecting baubles and suitors on sea and land. As directed by John Rando, Hilty has a gleaming smile, a strong but not distinctive voice and maybe four basic comic gestures -- including a little skip with teensy steps, an inappropriately deep curtsy and a faux-fancy imperious sweep of her arm.
She is fine, if a little bland in "I'm Just a Little Girl From Little Rock" but grows into a commanding slyness for "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Rachel York is endearing as the party girl who does it for love, and Brennan Brown turns a cameo as a French lawyer into a routine worthy of Peter Sellers.
Vocal and dance choruses are especially vibrant, including the athletic-beefcake bits for the shipboard Olympic team. Costumes are more elaborate than usual for this semi-staged series, with almost no obvious flapper styles and showgirls wearing champagne-cocktail headwear. Randy Skinner's bright choreography has lots of fun avoiding the Charleston.
But the breakout moment comes from a wizardly tap threesome for Phillip Attmore, Jared Grimes and, especially, Megan Sikora, who, until then, plays a dance-driven minor character. The girl from the chorus steals the show. Sounds like an episode from "Smash."
WHAT "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"
WHERE New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St., through Sunday
INFO $25-$115; 212-581-1212; nycitycenter.org
BOTTOM LINE Amusing revival of lightweight show