DIVA TALK: Chatting With Phantom of the Opera Star Mary Michael Patterson

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06 Sep 2013

Patterson in The Phantom of the Opera.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Question: How did your first Broadway show come about?
Patterson: I was living in New York and had an agent and was auditioning very regularly, and I’d been seen for Anything Goes the first go-round, and it didn’t work out. I think they were looking for a second female swing and I went back in, and that didn’t work out. So I had been in and out of that room a lot. And then they were looking for a new Hope Harcourt cover, and I went back in that third go-round, and it finally ended up working out, which was awesome. I no longer had to wait tables, which I was thrilled about. [Laughs.]

Question: Do you remember your first night on Broadway and how that lived up to expectations or was different from what you expected?
Patterson: Yes. It was kind of crazy because through a series of circumstances at the Sondheim at the time, I had been in rehearsal for about a week and wasn’t supposed to go on until the end of that week. Then something happened, and we were down a person — we were short a person, and so they called me and [said], "You’re going to go on tonight." It was just for my own track, not for Hope, and I was still like, "Oh my God, it’s happening tonight!" So there was a lot of the show that I was just trying to be in the right place at the right time. [Laughs.] I don’t remember – it was kind of like a dream, but I still remember looking across the stage and seeing Sutton Foster and starting to cry because she was someone I looked up to as a child and suddenly I was on stage with her. So it was definitely a dream come true in every way.

Question: How did you originally get involved with Phantom?
Patterson: I was doing Sense and Sensibility in Denver, and a friend of mine that was in the show, we were talking, and she said, "Have you ever been seen for Phantom?" And I said, "No, I never have." I always wanted to but it never sort of worked out. And she said, "I really think you should be seen. I know they’re going to be looking for someone this summer." And, she had done the show before, and she's lovely and said, "I think it would be a really good fit for you." So I said ok, and I called my agent, and said, “Hey, maybe this is something we could make work when I get back from Denver.” So I think it was the day I got back I had my first audition, and then I had a callback, and then I got the job! It was all very fast. I’d never been seen before, but it felt like a good fit on both sides, and everything just worked out really nicely.

Question When did you join the company?
Patterson: I started rehearsal at the beginning of July, and I did my first show at the end of July.



Question What are the challenges of joining a show that’s been running for 25 years?
Patterson: It’s crazy. There’s so much history in that building with those people. It’s at the same time really exciting and fun and thrilling and also terrifying. There are so many amazing women that have done it before me, and I feel the pressure of wanting to live up to it and wanting to do it justice. But what’s particularly difficult about Christine is that her track is very isolating. When she’s on stage, she’s usually on stage with the Phantom or Raoul, and then when she leaves stage to change clothes, that’s when everyone else comes on. So I don’t get to see a lot of people, so I’m still kind of getting to know people slowly when we see each other in rehearsal or see each other leaving the show. So it’s a different experience, because I'm used to either being in a room with more people or having a track that’s a little bit more shared and seeing someone and having that connection. This is much more, I'm on stage and doing the show, and then I leave and I change clothes, and I see very few people other than the Phantom and Raoul.

Continued...

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