Today, we are excited to share an exclusive interview we conducted with Patti Murin. Ms. Murin finishes her contract in the role of Glinda on the 1st National Tour of WICKED tomorrow, February 24. Previously, she performed in XANADU and LYSISTRATA JONES on Broadway. She answered us in pink, and instead of reformatting, we decided to leave it pink – very Glinda, don’t you think? Check out her fabulous thoughts on performing and WICKED below!
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you get it? What did you learn from the experience?
My first professional acting job was at a non-Equity theatre in Fort Lauderdale, FL called the Stage Door Theatre. I got the role of Polly in “Crazy For You” right out of college, and I went there and didn’t come back for a year and a half. In all, I did 4 shows there, including “Parade”, “How to Succeed…” and “Annie Get Your Gun”. I loved it so much because it was the first time I was getting paid to do what I had always dreamed of doing, and it was in Florida. So, there was that.
Before WICKED, you understudied Clio/Kira in XANADU on Broadway. What was it like to make your Broadway debut?
Making my Broadway debut was incredible. I was actually a swing for the first 6 months of the show, so I covered all of the Muses before I really covered Clio/Kira. So my debut was as Erato, the Muse of lyrics and erotica. Woohoo! I don’t remember a lot about the show itself, but we were in the middle of a freak storm of injuries, when 3 cast members all broke/sprained/fractured feet or legs within just a few weeks of each other. So it wasn’t under the best circumstances that I had to go on, because Kenita Miller is one of my dearest friends and I didn’t want her to be hurt. But I had about 2 hours to get ready and call my parents to tell them to get their butts down to the theatre, and then there was no turning back!
In 2011, you made your Broadway leading lady debut as the title role in LYSISTRATA JONES. What was that experience like? Was there anything about it that surprised you?
That experience was indescribable. From the very beginning of the project, when we were having choreography/basketball workshops at the gym at Judson before it was a theatre, it was clear that something very special was shaping up. And to be able to take it all the way to Broadway was just a dream. Our whole cast from Off-Broadway transferred, so we were already bonded like a family and best friends. It was exciting to go through it together. The only thing that surprised me was that it didn’t last longer, because it really should have!
You received acclaim for your performance as Ariel in THE LITTLE MERMAID at The Muny – tell us about that. What was it like performing outdoors? What unique challenges does it present?
Working at the MUNY is an experience that I hope to be able to repeat every single summer as long as I am a part of this business. To step out onto that stage and see the thousands and thousand of seats before you is breathtaking. I also played Roxie in “Chicago” this past summer, which was another role I never thought I would play. But to make my MUNY debut singing “Part of Your World” was something I never dreamed possible. We also used many costumes from the Broadway production, which means that I wore a lot of my good friend Sierra Boggess’s clothes! So that was special too.
Performing outdoors is definitely different! During a few nights of “Mermaid” the heat index was over 110 degrees, so it was just disgusting. No matter what you were wearing, you were sweating buckets. And that makes quick changes so much more difficult! They do what they can with fans and water and spray bottles, but it gets brutal. Every night I would take my wig off and my hair would look like I had just washed it. But I loved breathing in the humid air, because it was excellent for singing. And then, of course, you always have to be careful that a bug doesn’t fly in your mouth while you’re belting out a note 🙂 But when it’s all said and done, you feel like you have truly survived what you thought would be impossible. And it’s worth it to be able to perform a dream role in front of 11,000 people every night, and to see the looks on the children’s faces when Ariel comes onstage.
I first saw “Wicked” back in about 2004 or 2005, and I just loved it. I went in for the show a few times over the years, but I was mainly doing new musical theatre works, so I wasn’t thinking about replacing in a show. And after “Xanadu”, I decided that I wasn’t going to understudy anymore because I wanted to really be playing roles, and I was willing to sit around and wait as long as it took to be able to do that. So while it has always been on my bucket list of roles to play, I hadn’t thought about it in a little while when I got the call asking if I was interested in playing Glinda.
What was your reaction when you found out you had been cast in the show?
I was completely overwhelmed. I was incredibly excited, first and foremost, but it also meant that I was leaving home in less than a week, which I was entirely unprepared for. My husband, Curtis Holbrook, and I were just getting back into our apartment after being away working at the MUNY and visiting family and taking a vacation, so I hadn’t seen my home in about 2 months, and I had to pack everything up in 3 days! So I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and take it all in until I watched the show that very first night in Salt Lake City. And then, I just couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be a part of this unbelievable work of theatre.
Who was the first person you told that you had been cast? What was his/her reaction?
My husband knew because we had been discussing it for a few weeks, waiting for the final word to come through. So the first people I really told were my parents and my little brother, because we were in the car coming home from a winery near my parents’ house that we had visited for an afternoon, and I told them and they were so excited. I think my mom especially has always wanted me to be in “Wicked”, so she was just thrilled.
What was your first performance like? How did you feel throughout the show?
I was lucky enough to have my put in rehearsal the day of my first performance, so I got a great run through right before I had to go on! That doesn’t usually happen. I actually remember feeling not that crazy, and confident that I could get through it. Not perfectly, of course, but well enough! Nicole Parker was my first Elphaba, and she was there for me every step along the way. The entire company was so supportive, not just verbally, but I could feel them around me sending me love and positive energy. And then offstage, the whole stage management team was ready to push me in whatever direction I needed to go in, and to answer any last minute frantic questions I had. The whole company is amazing.
What is your favorite part of the show to perform?
“Popular” is always so much fun, of course. And honestly anytime I’m with Dee Roscioli onstage is magical because we have such a great connection, and doing scenes and songs with her literally makes me want to be a better actor. She IS Elphaba, and being with her makes me want to give her as much as she is giving me. But over the past 6 months, I love singing the end of “Thank Goodness”. I think it’s one of the most well written musical pieces of the show and I can relate to it every single performance. It is just heartbreaking to sing, and I love when I really get it and feel like I have hit every single beat in that section. And then singing that high C at the end is always awesome to me, because I didn’t sing soprano before this show!
Do you find any similarities between Glinda and other characters you’ve played? What about Glinda and yourself?
I tend to play characters that are very energetic, it seems! I suppose you could say Glinda is like Lysistrata Jones because they’re blonde and perky, but they would never run in the same social circle. It’s difficult because I created Lysistrata, so she was a lot like me in general. Glinda on the other hand, I got to take a character that already existed and make her my own. Within reason, of course! So I suppose you can say that my Glinda draws a lot from the ghosts of the Glindas past, present, and yet to come!
Have you had to change any daily habits to protect your voice and body while in the show?
Oh yes. I eat better, I don’t eat after shows anymore so I don’t get acid reflux, I barely drink alcohol anymore, I had to give up soda (except when I have In-N-Out Burger), I don’t have long phone conversations anymore, I don’t go to loud bars, and so on and so on. It’s a fairly nun-like life, but the fact that we have been in cities like Seattle and Honolulu and San Francisco makes it easier, because there are so many things to do and see that don’t involve going out ad partying. I have definitely grown up a bit over the past 6 months 🙂
Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage bloopers or mishaps that you’d like to share?
Oh my goodness. Well, during our first performance in Las Vegas the fire alarms started going off during the Opening because it was a brand new facility and they hadn’t dealt with the amount of fog we use in the show. So we kept going until the end of the number and then evacuated the stage. That was fun! Then, also in Vegas, when the final curtail came down, right before curtain call, I was in my bubble coming down, and it just stopped. Like, completely stopped. So they had to manually get it down as far as they could, and then 3 of our amazing crew members dragged a ladder over and literally fireman-rescued me from the bubble. That was fun too. And then during one of my very first performances with Dee, I was singing “Popular”, and I just forgot the lyrics. They just went completely out of my head. So I’m standing there looking at her, bouncing like a lunatic, and she’s trying to remember what the heck they are, and not really helping, and so we just did that for a few bars until it got to the “la la” cross and I could get back on track. Talk about deer in the headlights! Thankfully, that has not happened again.
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to one day perform?
If they ever do a musical version of “Enchanted”, I would give my left pinky toe to play Giselle.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Accept that it’s not fair. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be. It will never be fair and you will always be wondering why, but if you can be even the tiniest bit Zen about it all, then you will be 1000% better off. Also, do something every day for your career, whether it’s rehearsing a song, going to an audition, asking someone a question about something, reading a play, going to see a show, anything! In this business that we have so little control over, it will make you feel like you are doing to keep on top of things for yourself. And always make sure your heart is in it, You have to love it, the good and the bad.