BWW Review: SETH RUDETSKY & PATINA MILLER Rock The Town Hall
The Town Hall, NYC, February 3rd, 2020
Seth Rudetsky's Town Hall shows are essentially what you imagine "must exist!" somewhere in theater. It's a talk show plus a concert! And, kudos to him, he's dreamed up just the type of saucy, scandalous conversation for die-hard fans to get the secret deets in the only way a true theater fan knows how: live and not televised. If you want to see Patina Miller wink and shrug her shoulders while telling stories of height (and death) defying acrobatics that occurred even before Pippin hit Broadway, then well, you missed your chance. But, don't despair, because Rudetsky will be back again soon with another installment of his casual sit-down chat with yet another contemporary star between a solid set of songs from the "shows that were" and "weren't."
One of the things that makes Rudetsky's shows great is their candid nature. The audience watches as he peels back the layers as a close friend would. Of course, with the added benefit of them being able to listen in. He springs the song order on the performer the night off and being some of the greatest to do it, stars like Patina Miller, in this case, seem to effortlessly glide through the songs with ease. That's enough of Rudetsky for a little while. On to Patina Miller. And all that voice she's brought to the Manhattan stages she's graced. I've seen a couple of former church girls perform, but darn. Miller put the soul into that song nicknamed, "Sista." I mean "Miss Celie's Blues" where she jived her hips and sang in the most crystalline voice, "I betcha think I don't know nothin' but singin' the blues/oh sister, have I got news for you/I'm somethin'/I hope you think your something too." Miller was certainly something. It's not hard to believe that she could have played Effie White in the film version of Dreamgirls.
Patina Miller got started strong with a series of songs that emphasized her ability to mix ranges and belt at any note. On songs like "Corner of the Sky" (from her Broadway lead role as Pippin) which opened the show or [the role that wasn't] Cabaret's "Maybe this Time," Miller's voice soared, and throughout the show, it continued to continuously hit new heights. Most likely my favorite moment coming mid-show when she sang "Fabulous, Baby!" from Sister Act, a show that she did in both London and New York. The lyrics, "Look at my style, could it be more glam?" and "Me, I'm fabulous, baby!" seemed to mesh with her style well. A special audience treat was the backstory of how Patina was doing Hair in the Park (before it would go to Broadway) when she took a chance to follow Sister Act to London after doing the tour (and only getting a chance at the role of Deloris, because of a 10 am student matinee.)
There are plenty more backstage secrets spilled in a Seth Rudetsky interview, but for now, that's the taste. Next up to be a little grilled and a little roasted between songs is Brian Stokes Mitchell this April!