Thursday, January 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: Patti Murin from Lysistrata Jones

1.      Before moving to Lysistrata Jones, let us take a look back at some of your past projects.  High School Musical, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid - you have such a connection with Disney! Was it always a dream to play a Disney princess?

*I have definitely always loved the Disney princesses! Snow White was my favorite when I was really young, but as soon as The Little Mermaid came out, I was obsessed. But THEN, when “Beauty and the Beast” came out, she was my girl. I had darker hair then, and I absolutely loved to read and study and learn things (still do!), so I immediately connected with her. People keep mentioning “Tangled” to me, and if they ever do a stage production of that, I would give anything to play Rapunzel! I love that the Disney girls are not typical boring ingénues. They are love adventure and want to go places and see things and have so much passion inside of them. They are all such excellent role models for girls and women of all ages, so it is always an honor to play one onstage.
2.      You spent some time in Xanadu on Broadway. Do you enjoy “Greek” musical comedies?

*I guess I do! More likely that I love working with Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the book for both “Xanadu” and “Lysistrata Jones”. He has a special knack for remastered Greek stories!
3.      Your journey with the character of Lysistrata Jones began a few years back when the show played at the Dallas Theatre Center under the title Give It Up!  How did you become involved in the project?  What drew your interest to this original piece?

*I became involved because I knew Douglas and Dan Knechtges (the director/choreographer) from “Xanadu”, and they always had me come in to participate in their table reads and choreography workshops. Then when it came time to actually do a production of it, they had me read for Lysistrata for the first time, and I ended up with the role. Like I said, I just adore working with both of them, plus Lewis Flinn, who wrote the music, so it was an easy decision. I loved the idea of a modern take on “Lysistrata”, and I also loved the idea that I could play a cheerleader on stage J I have basically been a cheerleader my whole life, so it was a natural fit for a lot of reasons.
4.      From Dallas to Off-Broadway to Broadway, this show has seen many different lives.  What are some of the changes that have happened to the show along the way?

*The ending has changed completely! It used to be that the character of Xander, my boyfriend, would play in the final basketball game to help the team win, but downtown at the very last minute they changed it to Lysistrata playing in the final game. It made so much more sense and brought her story full circle, so that was exciting. Plus then I had to learn how to play basketball! There are also some songs that were reworked, including my Act One Finale song, “Where Am I Now”, to make it a bit deeper. Some of the scenes went through tonal shifts, and of course, tons of new jokes were tried out along the way! I think what we ended up with is pretty fantastic.
5.      How has Lysistrata Jones, herself, changed along the way?

*She used to start out as a little more of typical airhead cheerleader, sort of following the crowd until she had an epiphany that she needed to force some change upon her friends. Now she starts as the new, different girl in school, who is motivated from the very beginning to make change happen. And as I have gotten to work on her over the past 2 years, she has become a lot more specific and fully developed.
6.      You are being called the next Elle Woods (from Legally Blonde).  Did you base your character of her or any other personality?

*I really honestly didn’t base her on anyone except myself, and whatever she morphed into along the way. I started in Dallas with a very unclear picture of her, and within the first week of rehearsals, I knew exactly where she was going. And then when I got to bring her back downtown at the Gym at Judson for our Off-Broadway run, she was a little different because of the changes in the show. And this time around, I could really relax into it and really just see where she was going to go. The amazing thing about playing a character and creating a character is that you are absolutely never done working. There are things I have discovered this week, with only 5 shows remaining, that I am so excited about, yet sad that I only get to live with them for a few more days.
7.      You have a cheerleading past.  Was it exciting to put on a cheerleading uniform again?  Did your background help you prepare for this role?

*I just love that cheerleading uniform. Really. I consider myself a very strong, independent woman, but there is something about a cheerleading uniform that I love! I am also quite a bit of a cheerleader in my real life. I am usually very positive and energetic and always finding silver linings in other people’s clouds, so that helped my characater development as well as actually being a cheerleader in high school and college.
8.      The choreography in Lysistrata Jones, done by Dan Knechtges, is intricate, complex, and crazy good!  How many hours went into nailing each and every dance?

*A ton! Some of the dances are essentially the same from Dallas, and some have gone through major overhauls. We definitely worked our butts off during this rehearsal process, and continue to every night onstage. On two show days, I pretty much feel like I have been hit by a truck.
9.      Your success in Lysistrata Jones is incredible! Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

*I have a few things I have been working on! One is a musical version of Jane Austen’s “Emma”, which I did out at the Old Globe Playhouse in San Diego last winter, written by the incredible Paul Gordon and directed by one of my favorites, Jeff Calhoun. I know they are really hoping to bring it to New York someday soon, which would be incredible because I just loved playing Emma Woodhouse and singing that gorgeous, gorgeous music. And another thing I am working on is a musical version of the movie “Citizen Ruth”, in which I play Ruth. For those who know that movie, they are most likely scratching their heads right now, because it is a black comedy that centers on abortion rights and comments on the extreme left and right sides of politics. The character is essentially a homeless drug addict, and the exact opposite of Lysistrata Jones! But the writers, Mark Leydorf and Michael Brennan, have made this into a BRILLIANT musical, with incredible music and a hysterical book. I know they have some future plans for it, so hopefully that will happen soon!

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