It's been an "extraordinary" year for singing actress Patina Miller, who won a 2013 Tony Award for Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her dazzling work in the Tony-winning revival of Pippin at the Music Box Theatre. Helmed by Diane Paulus, who was also Tony-honored for her direction, the cirque-inspired production casts Miller as the mysterious and somewhat manipulative Leading Player, the role created in the original Broadway staging by Tony winner Ben Vereen. Miller, a true triple threat, offers a performance that is, simply, a tour de force. Whether she's belting out the glorious Stephen Schwartz score, gracefully slithering through the Chet Walker-Bob Fosse choreography or forcefully demanding the company follow her lead, she is never less than captivating. Two weeks following her Tony win, I had the pleasure of chatting with the gifted artist, who made her Broadway bow with a Tony-nominated turn in Sister Act; that interview follows.
Question: Congratulations on the Tony Award!
Patina Miller: Thank you so much.
Miller: Oh my God, my stomach was in knots! I was so nervous – right before my category, I’d just performed, so I had to rush. I had 15 minutes to get back into my dress, and I’m panicking about that…I wasn’t really nervous until that moment—that’s when my nerves kicked in. I actually thought I was doing well. I had let it go—whatever was going to happen was going to happen, and either way I was going to have a good time. So I literally started to get nervous once I had to go back to my seat because they were [already] on Billy [Porter]’s category. I got dressed and Billy was doing his speech, and in my mind I was [thinking] if this happened how amazing it would be and if it doesn’t, I’m going to be okay. I’m here again, my second time on the [Tony] show, my second Tony nomination. I was just thinking how blessed I was to have this opportunity again to be in this room and to try and enjoy myself no matter what the outcome was. So that’s what was on my mind—whatever happened was going to happen. They could call your name, maybe they won’t call your name, it’ll be fine. I rushed back to my seat after Billy accepted his award, and I got back to my seat just in time, and I didn’t really have time to do anything because before I could, they were already announcing the category. I just reached over to my fiancé and squeezed his hand… I was trying to keep calm. They read out all the nominees, and the moment they called my name, I just lost it. You know, you think of what it would be like if they did call your name, what your reaction would be if that were ever the case. I’ve always wanted to be an actor, be in New York and be in theatre and to maybe one day be on that stage, and when he called my name, there are no words to describe the feeling that I felt, but it was definitely a moment I will never forget.
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