I guess the first thing I can say about Patti Murin is that she is a damn good performer! I saw her last year while she was taking Broadway by storm as the title role in Lysistrata Jones, and to not put it lightly, she could SING, ACT, and DANCE perfectly in a very demanding role. I mean, really, this girl knows how to command a theater and won’t let it go until the curtain falls at the end of the second act. She is currently on tour with Wicked playing Glinda where I’m sure she is delivering the same top notch performances like she did in LJ. Read up because everyone could learn a little bit from Patti.
MC: When did you catch the theater bug?
PM: I auditioned for the 6th grade musical which was Cinderella, and in the car on the way to the audition, my mom asked if I could sing, and I said “Of course!” I had never sang for anyone other then my family, so I have no idea where those guts came from! But I was cast as a mouse and didn’t want to stop performing.
Were there any performers that inspired you to go into show business?
Anyone who was in The Secret Garden on Broadway. I saw that show twice and just loved every minute of it. Also, my cousin, Lauren, and a friend of hers, Beth, were a year older than I was and were planning to major in musical theatre in college. They were the first people I knew personally who were going to make this a life choice, and I realized that I could do it too.
You have BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University. Can you talk about your time there and how the school helped you become the triple threat you need to be for Broadway?
I LOVED Syracuse with all of my heart. I grew up about an hour north of NYC, so I wasn’t in a rush to get there. I wanted a real college experience, with the big college sports, sororities, and cheerleading, so, the fact that Syracuse had a stellar theatre program was just the perfect fit. The professors at Syracuse really teach you how to ACT. It’s not all about belting so high or executing a flawless double pirouette, but they teach you how to do these things for a reason within the world of your song or your dance, or your scene. Every professor there, no matter what they teach, is an incredible actor in their own right, and they pass on as much knowledge as they can in the 4 years you have there. There are still times when I say “Oh, THAT’S what so-and-so meant at Syracuse!”
They give you the tools to keep growing and developing and improving long after you have graduated from the program.
What was the transition like going from college to the professional world? Did you move to NYC immediately?
I did move immediately to NYC with my best friend Suzanne to a small apartment in Brooklyn. Because I had grown up close to the city and had worked there summers before graduating, I was perfectly comfortable there, so it wasn’t a big transition. I decided not to go for my Equity card right away because I wanted to play some great roles first. My first job came on my third audition, which was the role of Polly in Crazy For You at a theatre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Your most recent Broadway credit is playing the title role in the Tony Nominated Lysistrata Jones. You were with the show since the beginning (when the show was called Give It Up), right? How did that job come about?
This job was a direct result of Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the book for LJ and also for Xanadu. He was collaborating with Dan Knechtges, who choreographed Xanadu, on an experiment with basketball and musicals. So we did a basketball dance workshop that he asked me to be a part of, and then some table reads as the year went on, and then all of a sudden, we were going to Dallas to do the show. I had read a variety of parts in the readings, but never Lysistrata. I knew that’s the role I really wanted, and I actually auditioned 3 days before I left town for my wedding (that the whole creative team was coming to!). They were nice enough to let me know as soon as possible that I got the role so I could continue obsessing about dresses and cake!
Can you describe the process you went through originating a role?
I absolutely love originating roles. I have honestly really only originated roles in the past 5 years or so, doing Emma at the Old Globe and Band Geeks at the Goodspeed Opera House, and Lysistrata Jones in its various productions. Wicked is actually the first time I have ever replaced in a show! I just love putting my own spin on a character and trying to bring whatever I can to the table to help the writers and directors flesh out their show. It’s a lot of problem solving, which I also love doing. You have to figure out how to make it work, and also what is or isn’t working for you, and be incredibly collaborative in the process. I think I’m pretty easygoing when creating a show, so being willing to say “yes” to anything and trying everything once are incredibly important qualities to have when building something from the ground up. But you also have to know your character well enough to know when something isn’t right and be able to find solutions.
Once you got to Broadway with Lysistrata Jones, how much did the show change? How did you get the character back in your blood from when you performed the show in Dallas, Texas in 2010?
It changed a lot because we had an entire new cast of people! Only 4 of us stayed on from Dallas, so it was a different energy. Everyone has different skills that are fun to figure out and highlight, and you build your performance around what everyone else is building. Getting Lysistrata back in my system wasn’t that hard, because she is essentially a major extension of me. I did love that I had a few years to do other things between productions, because I learned so much more about comedy that I could bring back to Lysistrata.
Patti (center) as Lysistrata Jones
Currently you are on tour with Wicked playing Glinda. She is such a fun character! What is your favorite part about playing her and why?
I love Galinda/Glinda so much! She is a pleasure and an honor and a challenge to play every single night. Obviously “Popular” is a fun number to do, but I love taking her journey every night. She goes through so much and the show spans such a long period of time that I feel like I have literally lived all her years through the show, both physically and emotionally. Needless to say, I sleep well at night!
How do you like being on tour? How do you stay in tiptop performance ready shape with such a hectic schedule?
I like being on tour! We are lucky in that we can sit down for a while in each city, so we can really make a temporary home everywhere we go. I make sure to sleep as much as I can every night, around 9 or 10 hours, and keep myself as hydrated as possible in these dry climates. What can be frustrating is being in an exciting city like Las Vegas and not being able to take advantage of everything it has to offer! With a role like this, there is no going out after shows and staying up all night, so it’s a little sad sometimes. Seattle is coming up next, so I’m thinking it will be a lot more low key and easier to enjoy outside of work.
What’s your advice for aspiring Broadway performers?
Do something every day for your career. Whether it’s taking a voice lesson or a dance class, or rehearsing a new audition song, or asking a question. It doesn’t have to be huge, but something to make sure you stay focused. And also, don’t expect everything to be fair, because it’s not. As soon as you accept that, you will be able to better appreciate every single step of your journey.♦