CUE & A: Dirty Dancing Leading Lady Jillian Mueller on Jessie J, Her Last-Minute Audition and Tongue-Kissing St. Jimmy

News   CUE & A: Dirty Dancing Leading Lady Jillian Mueller on Jessie J, Her Last-Minute Audition and Tongue-Kissing St. Jimmy
 
Jillian Mueller, who stars as Frances "Baby" Houseman in the new North American tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Jillian Mueller
Jillian Mueller

Mueller recently finished touring with Flashdance the Musical. She has appeared on Broadway in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Bye Bye Birdie and toured with American Idiot and Memphis.

Screen work includes “One Bad Choice” (MTV) and “A Gifted Man” (CBS).

Full given name: Jillian Mueller
Where you were born/where you were raised: Marlboro, NJ
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
What your parents did/do for a living: Dad's an accountant, and Mom's a lawyer.
Siblings: Younger brother Jack (we're Jack & Jill)
Current audition song/monologue: I recently like singing "Clarity" (Zedd)
Special skills: Skiing, swimming, I learned aerial flying doing American Idiot, moon walking, karate
Something you're REALLY bad at: Using my indoor voice. I'm always full out, apparently.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Beauty and the Beast when I was three. It was my favorite movie.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Original Cabaret
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Hedwig and Beautiful
Some favorite modern musicals: American Idiot, Next to Normal, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hair
Some favorite classic musicals: I don't think I have particular favorites. I'm not a huge traditional musical theatre fan (I know, I should be ashamed). I appreciate it and what it's done, just maybe not my cup of tea.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Jessie J
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Jessie J at Rockwood this past winter. There were only about 30 people there.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Songs or albums that remind me of a specific time or person in my life. You listen to it and it brings you right back to that moment.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: I get a song or album that I get obsessed with, play it over and over, then find a new song and move on. Right now it's Ingrid Michaelson's "Lights Out" and the band The 1975. And all the Kings of Leon albums.
Most-visited websites: Instagram
Favorite Tweeters: My stupid funny friends
Last book you read: "The Secret"
Must-see TV show(s): "Shameless," "Masters of Sex"
Last good movie you saw: "Begin Again"
Some films you consider classics: I was a weird kid. This is what I considered classics: "Ace Ventura," "Dumb and Dumber," "Flashdance," "Titanic"… I had an "Austin Powers" phase, "Moulin Rouge," "Center Stage." Ya know, the real classics. Haha.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: The Real Housewives franchises
Three favorite cities: New York City; Chicago; Mykonos, Greece
Favorite sport/team/player: San Jose Sharks, Chelsea soccer, Red Sox... quite the eclectic mix
First stage kiss: I think it was not that long ago. In American Idiot, St. Jimmy tongues down one of the ensemble girls I covered. How romantic.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: My last year as a teenager I did Flashdance: the Musical. That was the most unbelievable experience and so many firsts for me. That was my first time leading and carrying a show. It was such a dream and truly an experience I will never forget.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: When I was maybe 4 years old and would put on costumes and jewelry and re-enact whatever VHS I put on the TV.
How you got your Equity card: My Broadway debut! How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Favorite liquid refreshment: OJ
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I don't sing in this show and my dancing is pretty minimal, so I don't require too much warm-up. I do my hair and makeup in my dressing room which I call the "open door policy." My door's always open so while people are walking by and getting to the theatre I can say hi or chat. It's silly but there's something about seeing everyone before we go onstage that I love and has always been part of my "ritual."
Most challenging role you have ever played:

Alex in Flashdance. The amount of energy and stamina you needed to get through that show everyday was unreal. It's a 2.5 hour marathon that you have to truly do everything. Acting, singing like 18 songs, full on dance numbers some of which are solos. And it all builds up to the last 20 minutes where you have to have an emotional breakdown, sing the 11 o'clock number and then do a 4-minute dance solo. It was insane but yet the most satisfying when you were done at the end of the night cause you know you put your heart and soul into every minute.

And my rehearsal process for that was kinda brutal and draining which made it challenging in the beginning because I was trying to find my way and figure out how I was going to carry this beast of a show. I did that for 10 months, 250 shows, never missed a performance. It was my baby.

Were you familiar with the film before taking on this project? Indeed I was. But I only saw the movie for the first time a few years ago. They were auditioning to do a remake of the film.
Biggest challenge about this current project: Finding the mix of doing it your own way but still paying homage to the movie.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: This show is just such a good time. We all know we're doing Dirty Dancing, this isn't Macbeth. It's just a constant party on and offstage. And the audiences eat it up. They come wanting to relive all the memories they have of seeing the movie. And to give that to them and see their response is so cool.
Worst costume ever: In 5th grade I played Violet Beauregarde in a community theatre production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I glued wrappers and pieces of Bubblelicious gum onto a t-shirt and dyed my tights purple. I loved a good arts and crafts project.
Craziest audition story: I had an unusual experience for this show. I was out for lunch with my dad and got a call, out of the blue, from the producer asking if I could come in. The final callback was going on at that moment, so I ran to the studio.

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I was handed the sides right there, had like 10 minutes to look them over. It was the most last minute, no pressure audition I've ever experienced. Also, my initial audition for American Idiot I literally had a big bandaid under my bottom lip because I had stitches. Sexy.

If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? Jennlee our insane vocalist in the show. This is the first time I've ever done a show where I don't have to sing, so I think I'm just itching to get back into it.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Something that hasn't been created yet. I would love to originate something. Something that I have a feeling of "I was born to play this." That would be cool.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Hedwig
Something about you that surprises people: I'm a black belt in karate
Something you are incredibly proud of: My brother. He's a cool little nugget.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: In NYC I'm a frequent late night customer of Empanada Mama and most importantly Dolla Slice. It's right near my apartment, I can't help it! Don't judge.
Career you would want if not a performer: I literally don't know how to do anything else. I was a little girl who liked to play dress up and had a "big personality" and somehow made it into a living. But I love feeling like I'm running the ship, so I'd probably own my own business of some sort. Or maybe a designer. Or like an event/party planner, I'm into that stuff.
Three things you can't live without:

1. My friends & family. (Corny, I know) but they appreciate my "crazy," keep me sane and somehow put up with me. That's a lot to ask for so I'm #grateful, if you will. 2. A little adventure. I love a good time. I'm all about "live for the story."

3. Cheese fries. They're my biggest weakness.

"I'll never understand why…" ... people take things too seriously.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:

Don't listen to anyone. What I mean is everyone thinks they know best and at the end of the day follow your gut, work hard and don't ever take no for an answer. Put it out there, go for it, and believe that you are the one. Also... be nice. I guess that's just life "advice." It's the simplest thing, and people forget it sometimes. Just always be kind. It goes such a long way and just makes you and everyone around you a happier person. Because at the end of the day life's short, nothing's that deep and just enjoy the ride.

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