BWW Interviews: As Patti Murin Preps for 54 Below Show, She Talks Skivvies, Sierra Boggess, & Potato Chips
Over the past few weeks, we here at BroadwayWorld have been very lucky to welcome Broadway leading lady Patti Murin into our extended family. From recapping the Season Finale of "The Bachelorette" to interviewing it's happy couple and not so happy runner-up. But now it's time for Patti to get back to what she does best, sing her face off!
This Monday, August 11th at 7:00pm at 54 Below, Patti will be performing her first-ever solo show, "Literally Patti Murin." She's a little anxious about people actually being in the audience, so help her self-esteem and get your tickets now. The interview will still be here when you get back.
On Tuesday, I spoke to Patti about what we can expect from her big night, how Sierra Boggess and singing in her underwear (those are two separate stories) helped her feel less nervous, and her favorite potato chip; it was quite a well-rounded conversation.
BWW: Let's start with the most important question. On a scale from zero to infinity, how nervous are you right now?
Patti: (Long sigh) Oh my God. Right at this exact moment in time I am not nervous, but in like five minutes, everything could change on a dime. I'm a little bit bi-polar in how I'm feeling about it. Some days, or hours, I'm like, "Oh, this is going to be fun. I'm just going to rely on my general wit to carry me through."
Then there's other times when I'm like, "I'm going to die if this doesn't go well." So, at this moment, as I'm sitting on my couch, I'm ok, but I guarantee that after I have a rehearsal with my Music Director and the band rehearsal, I'm going to be like, "I don't know anything, I still have a million things to do."
As soon as I remember the list of things I have to do, I'm like, "Oh crap." Right now, while I'm not thinking about it, I'm great.
Good, well I hope talking to me about the concert doesn't bring up an extra anxiety.
Oh, I hope you do, because then I might get some stuff done.
Well, what has you more nervous; whether or not people are going to will show up, or the fact that everything is riding on you, alone, up on the stage?
You know what's crazy? I am more nervous that no one's coming to my party, than the fact that of what I am actually going to do at my party. So, I sent out the invitations (laugh), and now I'm fixated on who's coming. Obviously, I'm planning a great night, it's gonna be a lot of fun, but that's my major fear. I'm not nervous about getting up in front of people and doing this, because when it comes down to it, it's just me. So, if I forget a lyric, I forget a lyric, it's gonna be fun, and it's going to happen no matter what. But it's really the things that I can't control that I get really anxious about.
I can understand that. Did performing in sparkly Superman underwear with The Skivvies eliminate
some of that fear of being up on stage alone?
It actually kind of did. You know what's great about performing with The Skivvies, other than the fact that they are utterly brilliant, and the most fun people to do a song with? I got to see them do their concert, and do their thing. They do this twice a month, and they're just so off-the-cuff about it; nothing is planned out number-by-number, letter-by-letter, word-by-word; they are who they are, and if they want to go off script, they go off script. They have a loose outline, and that's what they do. So that was really awesome for me to see them in action, and to see this seasoned duo, and how fun it could be and how calm they were. So, that was really helpful.
And yea, it's kind of funny, once you're singing in your underwear, you're like, "Oh, I'm not thinking about these notes I'm hitting." You're thinking, "Oh, I'm in my underwear right now."
Maybe, that whole thing where they tell you, "Think of your audience in their underwear," maybe that has some merit to it.
Or, think of yourself in underwear.
Yes, or, think of yourself in underwear. But, that doesn't scare me anymore, so that suggestion's a moot point.
You mentioned that The Skivvies just rely on a loose outline for their shows, so what are you going to focus on as the interstitial conversation for yours? Is it going to be about your story, your upbringing, how you got where you are? Or is it going to be more about stories from the shows you've been in?
I think it's gonna be a mixture of everything, because one of the things that I wanted to stay away from in this whole process was, "Hello, my name is Patti Murin, I was born on September 28th, and this is how I got into musical theatre." I really wanted to avoid that autobiographical thing about my struggles. I think I said this in the press release, but, "How hard it is to be me, but how blessed I am." I wanted to stay away from that general arc.
Having said that, obviously, I am going to be telling stories about the shows, and the people in the shows, and my upbringing, and a lot about my parents, and the advice they've given me. So, it's sort of going to be a mixture of all of that... I think. Again, it's gonna be a loose outline, I'd like to not plan every word that I say, and I hope the audience talks back.
Oh wow, that could be inviting some trouble.
I'm up for it. You're right that could be trouble actually. I'm not censoring myself; the 54 Below blurb said I swear like a sailor and I plan on doing it a couple of times, even though my parents are going to be there.
So, how did the idea for you to do a... I know you aren't calling it a cabaret... how did the idea to do a solo-show come about?
Jen Tepper, of 54 Below, she's the Director of Programming there now, and she's amazing at her job. She actually emailed me about a week before "Fly By Night" closed, and asked if I would be interested. And I happened to have about seven weeks between the end of that show and the show I'm doing next; which they are supposed to be announcing soon, but I'm not allowed to talk about until they do.
Crap, that was going to be one of my questions.
If they announce it before this comes out, I'll tell you.
So, I had this seven-week chunk of time, and I was like, "Well, at least it will keep me from thinking I'm not doing anything with myself."
After thinking about it, and talking about it, I was like, "Yea, I'll do it. One night only, why not?"
So, it was Jen that came to me, which was really lovely just to get that boost of confidence from her thinking that I could actually fill a room with people who want to see only me sing. So, that was a really nice first step, because you think, "If Jen thinks I can do it, maybe I can do it."
I'm sure you have a lot of friends who've done solo shows, have any of them give you any advice as to what to expect from your first solo gig?
The general consensus among anyone who's ever done a solo-show anywhere at any time is that it is terrifying, because everyone thinks nobody's coming; everybody does. My friend Sierra Boggess, you know, it's Sierra, from "Phantom of the Opera;" she's the Little Mermaid, she has the same fear. So if the Little Mermaid has that same fear, then maybe this is normal; maybe I feel ok.
That was everyone's thing, people apparently don't buy tickets until right before the show. So you can check ticket sales, but it's gonna make you sad, because people literally don't buy tickets until three days before the show (Editor's note: I am publishing this article three days before the show. It is now time for you to buy your tickets).
My Music Director, Michael Holland, has been in the cabaret world for years. Old cabaret, all this new supper club stuff that's coming up; Joe's Pub, 54 Below; so he is really really schooled on all this stuff, and he said, "The Wednesday before the show is going to be about a third of your house. So on the Wednesday before your show, however many tickets you've sold, you're gonna have three times that."
So, I was like, "That's helpful. That's really lovely to know," because 54 Below has like 149 seats, so I was like, "Ok... alright, that's fine," (laughs). But that's really the only advice, "Don't freak out about that."
You've mentioned that the songs you sing are going to be from show's in which you originated roles, whether you sang those songs or not. So, I'm assuming that means some "Lysistrata Jones," some "Love's Labour's Lost," some, "Fly By Night," maybe some "Xanadu," but are there going to be some deep cuts from shows that might not have made it to New York? Like "Emma," or "Princesses," or, my favorite, "Band Geeks?"
Oh, yes, there is a "Band Geeks" in there, there is an "Emma" in there. The thing is, you have an hour-hour and 15 minutes, so you're pretty limited in terms of what you can do, and it being my first time around, I didn't want to get in over my head. So, fortunately I had to pick and choose a little bit. Some of my favorites aren't in there, they will get shout-outs, but they're not actually in the show.
I'm singing a song from "Citizen Ruth," which is a musical that's been in development for a while, written by Michael Brennan and Mark Leydorf, Dan Knechtges has been attached as director, I've been working with them doing all the demos and the readings and stuff. So I'll be singing a song from that, which is absolutely nothing like any I've ever done. I go from playing a princess and this is a homeless paint-huffer. So, there's a couple things that are from shows that people will not have seen.
Ok, I'm going to veer off of the concert-related track, and first and foremost what is your favorite flavor of Lay's potato chip?
Ohhhh, favorite Lay's potato chip? I'm going to go with the classic Sour Crème and Onion. If we're talking Ruffles, it's the Cheddar and Sour Crème, but if it's Lay's, it's Sour Crème and Onion. Those are still the ones I go to.
Alright, what is your favorite crazy new-age Lay's flavor?
Well, we tried the four that just came out; some of which are not very good. The Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese, honestly, was really quite spectacular. Quite spectacular.
Yea. You know, I think I really like cheesy in a chip. When Colin and I drove across country, as you go through different sections of the country, the chips change. And I wasn't really a huge fan of all of those. I've been surprised by Chicken and Waffles (laughs), as disgusting as that sounds. At the end of the day, it's up there with Cappuccino, they may not be very good, but it is really impressive how they got that flavor in a chip. Like, it's a little bit creepy. And Cheesy Garlic Bread, that's pretty great too.
I want to know whose job it is to suggest a Cappuccino potato chip?
Well, these are all suggestions from customers, these four new ones. I suggested a flavor of Sauvignon blanc. They did not take me up on that flavor. I happen to think that that may be the most popular flavor of chip that ever existed, but I suppose being a family company, they have to stay away from the alcoholic chip flavors, but that's something I would root for in the future.
Well, if I ever see that happen, I will know where the idea came from.
Yea you will! (laughs)
Ok, I have to ask about "The Bachelor"/"Bachelorette." First, I can't tell you how grateful I am that you agreed to do all of that stuff with the "Bachelorette" finale for us, it was a lot of fun, and I really appreciate that.
Oh, it was so much fun for me. It was blast, it was like a dream come true.
So where did the obsession with these shows come from? Where did it start?
You know... once DVR was invented I really committed to TV and DVR. I never used to be a huge TV watcher, but I did watch the second season of "The Bachelor," when I first moved to New York City. I remember watching and loving it, because it was so novel and it was still so new, and they didn't really know what they were doing. But as soon as I got DVR, I was like, "I can record all this stuff? Ok, great."
And in the beginning, I did skip a few season, either because I was traveling, or I was out of town, I didn't realize the incredibleness, or the people were boring. But then, I don't know, it must have been five-six-seven years ago, when they really started to find their niche, and they started doing the thing where the succeeding Bachelor came from the season before, so it sort of followed a track. It wasn't just a TV show anymore, this is an actual compilation of people. These people could probably fill up Rhode Island. The amount of people that have been on the show, I can't believe I don't know any of them. I'm shocked none of them are from my home town.
So, I guess that's when it became a rolling thing, and you felt like, "Emily shouldn't get another chance, oh my God. She's already been on, and she lost," and you realize you are starting to develop feelings about these people (laughs); which is maybe not that healthy, but God it's good. Good Lord it's good.
Because at the end of the day, yes you sit and make fun of people, but you really just sort of want it to work out in the end. You don't want the person to pick the villain, you don't want them to end up with the asshole. You have to pay attention to those
feelings too; like, "Oh God, maybe I care a little bit. Oh crap, when did that happen?"
Ok, to close, if you had to describe what your concert is going be in one nice, neat little package. How would you do that?
Um... oh goodness. Let's see. My concert is going to be... loud. Belty. There's going to be a lot of giggling. There's probably going to be a little too much sharing. And it's going to be fun... and short. It's going to be short. (Laughs) I always find when I tell people a show is short, they are way more inclined to come. But a fun, unplanned-planned night, because you just never know what's going to come out of my mouth.
How does Colin feel about the possibility of over-sharing?
He looks a little bit nervous right now, I think he'll be ok. He'll be alright. He's cooking me dinner right now, so I have to be very careful what I say.
If you are in New York on Monday night, and you are not at 54 Below, you will hate yourself when Patti's concert becomes the thing of legend. So, do yourself a favor and get your tickets now. Also, if you enjoy her brand of humor, follow her on Twitter @PattiMurin.