By Andrew Gans
06 Sep 2013
Mary Michael Patterson
The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber's international hit musical that celebrated a record-breaking 25 years on Broadway in January, recently welcomed its newest Christine Daae — Mary Michael Patterson — the soprano who becomes the obsession of the title character, now played by Hugh Panaro. Patterson plays the demanding role six times a week, while Marni Raab, a long-time Christine, performs Wednesday matinees and Thursday evenings at The Majestic Theatre. University of Michigan graduate Patterson was most recently seen as Marianne Dashwood in the world premiere of Sense and Sensibility: The Musical at the Denver Center Theatre. The singing actress, who made her Broadway debut in the recent, Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes, was also part of the Carnegie Hall staging of The Sound of Music, and her regional credits include White Christmas, Singin’ in the Rain, 42nd Street, Hairspray and West Side Story, among others. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Patterson, who spoke about her leading role in Broadway's longest-running production; that interview follows.
Question: Since we've never spoken before, can you tell me where you were born and raised?
Michael Mary Patterson: I was born in a little town west of Fort Worth and grew up there. It’s called Aledo.
Question: When did you start performing?
Patterson: I started performing very young. My first show was called The Night Before Christmas; it was a play at Casa Mańana Playhouse. I played Lamb Chop. [Laughs.] I was five years old, and I sort of just kept doing it ever since then.
Patterson: Yes, definitely. I very much admired Rebecca Luker. I saw her do Music Man when I came to visit New York when I was young. I used to listen to Audra McDonald all of the time, and I was also really crazy about all of the old movie musicals, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers.
Question: Was there a particular moment or production when performing changed from a hobby to when you knew it was going to be your career?
Patterson I don’t remember a particular moment, but I know when I was in high school I did all of the musicals and was in the theatre club. I remember thinking, "I want to do this in college," so I think the moment that I decided to audition for musical theatre programs I knew that that was the step that meant I was going to do it professionally. So, I guess, in high school.
Question: What was your first professional production?
Patterson: I did a summer at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera after my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, and I got my Equity Card doing that. I did three shows: Mame, West Side Story and Annie Get Your Gun.
Question: After you got your Equity Card, did you finish college or did you leave to pursue your career?
Patterson: No, I finished. I went back to school and I did summer stock every year, basically, between years at school. But I always went back and ended up graduating and moving to New York.