“We’re all friends here, right?” And she didn’t just ask; that’s exactly how the radiant Patina Miller, award-winning star of stage and screen, made everyone feel with her open and gracious personality and expressive blockbuster vocals in Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Starring Patina Miller. The latest installment of music director, pianist, and host Seth Rudetsky’s series of concerts and conversations with famed performers from the Great White Way played for one-night only at The Town Hall, and what a night it was!
The engaging show featured the ever-lively and knowledgeable Rudetsky (known to audiences for his popular radio shows on Sirius/XM, as well as his writing, performances, and charitable work) leading animated Q & A segments with Miller, sharing reminiscences, revelations, and reflections on her life and career with an infectious enthusiasm, natural ease, and humorous repartee. Interspersed throughout the sit-down interview were show-stopping hits from her favorite Broadway musicals, which she performed with the astonishing talent and heartfelt emotion for which she is renowned, vibrantly accompanied by the versatile Rudetsky on piano.
From her childhood shyness and fear of performing at church, through the recognition of her prodigious skills and acceptance in specialized arts programs in her native South Carolina, to her top-notch education and training in musical theater at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, Miller ebulliently recounted anecdotes of her professional journey to the stages of California, London, and New York, to her stint on the long-running TV soap opera All My Children (on which Rudetsky also appeared, but at a different time), and her current role in the CBS drama Madam Secretary. Among the highlights were behind-the-scenes stories of her Tony-nominated Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of Sister Act and her ground-breaking Tony Award-winning performance as Leading Player in the 2012-13 Broadway revival of Pippin, and an informative discussion of the differences between acting for stage and screen.
There were also funny moments in which she carefully covered herself and her short skirt from the waist down with a scarf provided by a member of the audience (after which Rudetsky irreverently noted, “Wait a minute. Didn’t you appear NAKED on stage in front of audiences in Hair?) and loving shout-outs to her husband of eight years and nearly three-year-old son. All of the spirited conversations served as introductions to the songs, spotlighting Miller’s extraordinary vocal range, breath control, and resonance, hitting the big notes in powerhouse renditions of numbers from the aforementioned shows, along with selections from Cabaret, Dreamgirls, Into the Woods, Smokey Joe’s Café, and Jagged Little Pill. Each was performed with unique original stylings and just the right gestures, moves, facial expressions, and attitude to convey the inherent themes and moods of the lyrics and to cement Miller’s position as one of the brightest shining stars of Broadway.
In keeping with the host’s commitment to important causes, Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Starring Patina Miller not only provided terrific entertainment, it also raised funds for Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing gun violence and other harmful acts in schools. If you missed last night’s stellar show, you can catch the final installment of the series in April, when Rudetsky returns to The Town Hall with Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 40 minutes, without intermission.
Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Starring Patina Miller played Monday, February 3, 2020, at The Town Hall – 123 West 43rd Street, New York City. For information and tickets to the series’ upcoming edition with Brian Stokes Mitchell on Monday, April 13, call (212) 997-6661, or go online.