As Kate Middleton’s labor ends, Patti Murin’s Labour’s are about to begin. Starting tomorrow, you can see Patti in the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Public Theater in Central Park. I spoke to Patti a week ago about everything from her character Princess to guest starring on Royal Pains. At the rate she’s going, next thing you know she will be the queen of NYC!
MC: How did your part in Love’s Labour’s Lost come about? What were you required to do in the audition?
PM: I literally had just gotten off the Wicked tour. (The last time I spoke to you was the beginning of that tour.) I had just come home and then I was out in LA for a little bit after that. This was my first Musical Theater audition back in the game in such a long time. I had been in Wicked for so long and I had been doing a pilot the year before and some TV, so this was my first Musical Theater audition in about a year.
I was like, really? Seriously? because it was just pages upon pages of Shakespeare. I also went in for two different roles. I went in for the role that I’m not playing, first, and had to learn a song and probably six pages of material. Then, I went back in for that, so it was the same stuff. And then, they called me three days before my final callback and said, “Will you look at this role instead?” (It was the role of Princess, which is what I’m playing.)…It was intense; it was a little overwhelming. But, my friend, Paul, actually gave me the best idea. He was like, “Why don’t you put your lines on index cards? Instead of scanning the page for each line, so that you’re constantly looking down, why don’t you just put each line on an index card? So, when you’re done with it, you put it in the back of the pile.”
I think that honestly made all the difference in the world because the line was always right there ready for me if I needed it.
That’s a really great idea!
I don’t know if it would work for every audition, but for this material it was awesome, so I owe him a lot for that.
But, it was great. Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman [created] such a warm room; they’re so kind, and so lovely. Nothing about the audition process was difficult at all.
Did you have much Shakespearean training before this job?
Nope. Nothing since I graduated from college… many years ago. [Patti laughs] We did a bit in college and I was in a production of The Comedy of Errors, which I was terrible in. I was REALLY bad in it. I like to think of this as my first Shakespearean experience because I really think I was terrible in that show.
Once you got the part of Princess how did you use Shakespeare’s original play to help work on your character, if you did at all?
I read it before the audition and while I was going through the audition process. Honestly, [Love’s Labour’s Lost] adheres pretty well to the play itself, but it also kind of doesn’t. They took characters that have four lines in the play and made them a fully fleshed out character in our version. Of course in most of Shakespeare the women don’t have a ton to do. So really, I scanned through [the original play]. This version takes the story with the heart and major plot points of the play, but it’s really its own thing.
How similar is your character Princess to Love’s Labour’s Lost’s original character the Princess of France?
The thing is that our story is set in current times and we’re at a five-year college reunion, so it’s a different premise. Her intentions are the same; what she needs and what she wants before the end of the play are the same. But, she is a modern day character. We talked about what “Princess” means… It has been interesting relating that to now… Alex and Michael have taken all of our characters and really made them human beings and our own version of them. They’ve been really great about letting us do what we all do.
What has the rehearsal process been like for the show?
It has been great. We had four weeks in the studio, which I think is SO much time for a show. We go into tech tomorrow (we go to the park tomorrow), which we’re all terribly excited about. It has been really great being in a room and being able to explore and figure the show out… It’s been incredibly collaborative and everyone is free to try whatever they want when they want. It has been one of the most fun rehearsal processes I’ve ever been a part of, that’s for sure.
What are you most looking forward to with performing on the famous Delacorte stage?
I’m excited about the moment when I realize where I am; when I get to look up and go, “I am in the middle of Central Park in my favorite city in the world doing a Shakespeare musical.” [Patti laughs]
I am really excited for the magical moment, whenever it comes. It will probably happen every single night!
Would you ever want to do a Shakespeare play? Maybe try The Comdey of Errors again…
Yeah! I would hope that by now I’d be better at it, so yes I would. I have never done a play, ever, which I can’t really believe. I’m open to anything. I would love to eventually try this in its original form.
Musical adaptations of classic plays seem to work well for you!
Yeah, right! I know. I’m going for the entire library of the ancient works! [Patti laughs]
What do enjoy about giving an old character/old story a new life?
I love that we can take something like Love’s Labour’s Lost, which is one of Shakespeare’s first works that no one really knows because it was not one of his best, and be a part of bringing it [people’s] attention in a different way. It’s neat because I love how some people would see Lysistrata Jones and want to go back and read Lysistrata.
Yeah! I did a whole project this year of comparing the original text to the musical.
Oh my god, that’s amazing! [Patti laughs] That’s awesome.
It looks like Lysistrata Jones is heading to the big screen. Do you know anything about that project? Are you involved with it at all at the point? If not, why not, because you created the title role so you should be in it?!
[Patti laughs] I have to say that I have gotten so much love and support from the Lysistrata Jones fans. That was everyone’s first question when the news came out. Nothing is determined at all. I’m just really excited that Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn get to do this again and that Lysistrata Jones will live on in some other form. It was heartbreaking when it closed. Once a show goes to Broadway and opens and closes that’s kind of it… It’s great that it’s going to have a life. I LOVE that show SO much and I love them so much. I’m thrilled for them that they get to keep working on it. I just hope that they let us all make cameos somewhere. [Patti laughs]
Are you looking to do more screen work in general?
Yeah, I am. I did a pilot last year and an episode of Royal Pains, but that got interrupted by the Wicked tour. TV is something that I have to commit to trying—go to LA for a bit in the fall and see what happens. But again, I’m open to whatever, which is nice. I used to not be open to TV, for some reason, because I didn’t think I could do it, but as soon as I did it I was like, “Oh this is awesome!”
Yeah, I would love to.
This is kind of a funny question, but speaking of the screen, something I love (along with the rest of your Twitter followers I assume) is your Twitter banter with Andrew Rannells about reality TV shows.
[Patti laughs] It’s funny that you say that because Love it or List it is literally playing in the background right now! [Patti laughs]
That’s a good one. I love that show too.
And tonight’s Bachelorette Monday!
Yes, Andrew Rannells and I share a love of terrible reality TV, which makes awesome reality TV. Toddlers and Tiaras is a personal favorite of ours. I cannot believe this is the world we live in and I will fully support watching that. [Andrew] is so funny, he is one of my dearest friends, so that was a quick bond when we met. He turned me on to HGTV; he was the one who turned me on to House Hunters, so that’s all his fault.
So, which character that you’ve played would most likely win The Bachelor or be a good Bachelorette, which character would most likely enter their child into a beauty pageant like the ones on Toddlers and Tiaras, and which character would be the worst to go house hunting with?
[Patti laughs] This is the best question I’ve ever been asked!! [Patti laughs] Lets see. I would say that Lysistrata Jones would be the best bachelorette because she would behave herself in the Fantasy Suite. She would not “give it up.” She would find someone who actually liked her for herself and not get seduced by the trips around the world. Who would win The Bachelor? Definitely not Glinda, no. Hmmm. Again, best question I’ve ever been asked.
[Patti laughs] I would have to say that Lysistrata Jones could win The Bachelor because she always has a plan for everything; she’s a smart girl. She’s can manipulate.
Glinda would definitely enter her daughter into toddler pageants for sure, absolutely— especially Act One Glinda. But then again, she’d probably just enter the adult pageants herself.
Or the mother-daughter ones.
[Patti laughs] Most definitely. House hunting, I would say Glinda [too]. She doesn’t really plan ahead; she’s impulsive. She’d look for closet space and that would be it. Poor Glinda. I love Glinda. Glinda is great at many things but house hunting is probably not one of them.
Yeah, yeah I could agree with that.
She’d be terrible on The Bachelor too because she would be the girl that nobody else liked. [Patti laughs] She wants to get what she wants.
If you had the opportunity to be miscast in any play or musical, whom would you like to play?
Anyone in The Book of Mormon because there is no role for me whatsoever in that show. Just to be a part of that show—any role would do. Or Kim in Miss Saigon because that will never happen.
I have the same answer to that question. The day that I realized I could never be in The Book of Mormon was a sad day.
Yep. Any of the tap-dancing Mormons.
What’s something you learned early on in your career that you still live by today?
Something that my dad said to me when I was first starting out has always stuck with me. He said, “Be nice to everyone you meet on your way up because you’re going to meet them again on your way back down.” [Patti laughs]
That is so true, especially in this business where everybody’s climbing ladders at different speeds and paces. It’s a reminder to be a good person and good things will come to you. Also, the people in this industry are incredible, so stop and take the time to get to know them (not just the other actors that you’re working with). The Public [Theater] has some of the best interns in the world. They are so smart, funny, and fun to have around. Those interns are going to be getting me jobs very soon in their careers. They are going to be telling me what to do very soon.
That’s something that has always stuck in my brain and it makes everything a lot more fun too, to not just remember how big is my part and what does my costume look like. It’s a whole experience. This whole experience with Love’s Labor’s Lost has been an incredibly special one. They couldn’t have rounded up a more incredible group of human beings. ♦