A Day in the Life of Patina Miller from ‘Pippin’
The Tony winner opens up about not getting dizzy on the flying trapeze despite being afraid of heights, late-night wedding planning, plus some major movie casting news (don’t worry, she’s not leaving the show)
This is Patina Miller’s year. Not only did she win the Best Leading Actress Tony for her show stopping turn as the Leading Player in the Broadway revival smash Pippin, this past week she got the news that she was cast as Commander Paylor in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. And if that’s not enough, she’s in the middle of planning her wedding.
Yet somehow the actress manages to keep it all in her stride. “I’m just trying to live in the moment and be thankful for all the good things that are happening for me,” says Miller. “It’s nice to know that what you visualized and worked for along the years – keeping that dream and passion – to see it happing. I’m in a really great place. And I get to do a show that I love doing every night.” We caught up with the Miller as she recounted her two-show day.
I woke up and washed my face. I’ve been starting a new skin care regimen called BioRenaissance, which is from France. I’m always trying to be better with my skin because I wear so much makeup in the show. I put on my Asics workout shoes which are a must. I got a Power Bar peanut butter crunch crisp protein bars, which is my favorite and a banana. Then I was out the door by 9:40 to take a cab to my gym.
I got to my gym, Mark Fisher Fitness. I was running a little behind because of the traffic in this crazy city. I’m starting a new gym program. I met with my trainer and I spent an hour there just warming up, doing tons of stretches to get me prepared for the lifting and things that I’d be doing. Then I went straight into my metabolic workout. l love the training there. They just welcome you with open arms. It’s just a big love fest in there. A trainer might not even be your trainer but they’ll come up, encourage and give you advice on how to fix things. You want to come to that gym. Also, I’m not running as much now, because I hurt my knee. So I’ve been trying metabolic training, which is basically going through your routines, your different workout stations, doing it quicker with not a lot of rest in between.
I decided to walk along 9th Avenue, up toward my theater [the Music Box Theatre] and get some lunch. I went to Just Salad at 51st Street. I get the same thing every time I go to a salad place. I have tuna as the protein because I’m a pescatarian. I love avocado and sprinkle of cranberry, sprinkle of almonds for crunchiness. I have the spinach and the mesclun mix, carrots and cherry tomatoes. There’s a little table, gazebo-like area so I can sit outside and eat my salad by myself.
I decided to walk to the theater early. I knew that I would be hearing from my agent at some point about a possible job that I had gone in for. So I was waiting to hear about that.
I got to the theater. Usually I like to stretch after my gym sessions. But since it was a two show day, I just wanted to make sure that I had food in enough time. I don’t like to eat really close to the show. It’s so physically demanding and I’m moving all the time. And it’s a little bit uncomfortable when you eat a full lunch and then go upside down on a trapeze.
I got the news that I was going to be in the new Hunger Games. So it was a very exciting day. I loved the book and the first film and to know that I’m going to be a part of the last two movies is kind of amazing. I’m really excited. I cannot wait to start working on it. The great news is that it doesn’t take me out of my show. I get to do both, which is fantastic and amazing. After that all went down, I talked to some friends who were congratulating me on it. By that time, it was time to go to work.
It was time for me to start warming up. I’m such a stickler about things that I like to do. My voice teacher has a warm-up for me that I do religiously every day just to warm up my voice as much as I can. I like to drink water and stretch a little bit and just be in my element in my dressing room. My warm up is just a bunch of scales. It’s nothing intense, just warming up different parts of my voice. Some oohing, some ahing, some using your higher register to wake your voice up. I like to warm up slowly.
I put on my show pants, my tights and my boots before the half hour. Then I go down and I try out on the trapeze for a little bit. I always try to make sure that I’m on the trapeze every day before the show just because every day is different. What you do one day in a show and working out affects how the show is. We all train before the show. Andrea Martin. All the acrobats. Some of the dancers. We all just like to be on stage and work through things because it’s such a physical show.
Working on the trapeze during the show, the lights are on and bright and it’s 17 feet in the air and you’re spinning. The challenge is just trying to hold your focus and not get sick or dizzy really. I’ve always danced. I’ve always been very active. Certain acrobatic things aren’t as hard for me. But I’ve never done the trapeze before. I love to challenge myself and I’m afraid of heights and I wanted to conquer that fear of being up in the air, at least for this show.
So after I train, I go back upstairs and I start the second half of my vocal warm-up. I prep my hair, put my pin curls in, put my wig back on, and I start my make-up. I continue warming up until it’s all finished. Then by that time, once I get my wig, the rest of my costume on, my hat. Then it’s places.
Before I go on stage, I always have to have a Jakemans lozenge. It’s something that I picked up in London. Before I go on stage, my dresser will give me a little bit of my ginger tea, my hot ginger tea. Then I go on stage and everyone’s there, and we all have this ritual where we dance and we sing that song “Everybody Dance Now.” We just kind of dance around and connect as a company.
It is so fulfilling and so amazing to see what happens in our show. We’re all just so connected and really in tune with one another and what we’re doing on stage. It’s a really special thing. We’re very lucky in that we get to do something like this. Matinee days are always very different. All the kids have gone back to school. So we don’t get the crazy, rowdy crowds. We get the more subdued, but they’re really listening and they’re laughing on the inside. But by the end of the show, it’s the exact same. They always react the same way at the very end.
I’ve been doing Pippin for a year now. The journey just keeps evolving. It keeps getting better and better. So I’m constantly learning new things. It’s repetition of getting your body to a point where it can do what it has to do eight times a week, two hours and 30 minutes every show. From the very beginning I wanted to put everything into it and I know how much that takes.
My intermission is usually spent laying out on my couch in my dressing room. I have jaw tension and I’ll lay it on a yoga ball and just massage my face. But I was also still getting congratulatory text messages from people. I spent a lot of time looking at wonderful messages.
After the show, I have physical therapy. We have PT close to five times a week and you just fill in the slots and 5:20 is usually my slot. I get my neck worked on. At the end of the show, it helps to undo the tension you’ve built up.
I was restless and figuring out what I wanted to eat. I finally made a decision and went to Zen Palate and got what I normally have there, the Mango Halo and the pineapple iced tea. I like the mangos and the soy protein. It’s a little sweet. I was craving it and I needed to go there and have a couple bites of it. I have to just sit by myself sometimes and it’s nice being outside of the theater.
I went over to Juice Generation and got the Vital Shot: ginger, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. It’s a nice little zinger to get me prepped for the next show.
I got back to the theater and went to my dressing room. I literally just chilled out. I just sit there. But my fiancé called me and I talked to him for a few minutes. Then I started stretching again, warming up for the next show.
After the second show, I ended up going to Blue Ribbon Sushi with my two good friends and fiancé so we could celebrate and hang out. I had a nice little California roll and edamame there. We didn’t really eat a lot.
I took a cab home. It’s been a little hard for me to go to sleep. So I end up just surfing the web. Since I’m getting married in June, I look at a lot of wedding websites and wedding magazines. I drive my fiancé crazy until he falls asleep and I don’t. But I don’t think I’m a bridezilla yet. We have our videographer, our wedding planner, a photographer. Now we’re working on our flowers and catering, which are the two big things.
I like to take a hot shower and do my facial cleansing all over again right before I go to bed. I’m a night owl.