Working In The Theatre: Before The Show with Billy Porter & Patina Miller


I have to pay my cable bill now. [vocal warm up] It actually fits. [off camera] Last week was her fifth recording-breaking week in a month. What did you say? Last week was her fifth recording-breaking week. Record breaking, meaning at this theatre? Or record breaking in general? At this theatre. Meaning we broke the record for how many? Eight shows a week. Five times since June. Oh that’s good. Last week was like the highest-grossing. Wow. So, we’re sticking around that’s for
sure. Kinky Boots you know it’s a role of a lifetime. It’s very rare that something like this
happens for any kind of artist ever. Lola and Simon in Kinky Boots are one in the same person. Lola is a gender illusionist. I like to call her. And her masculine version of herself is Simon. There truly has to be a balance in sexuality between the masculine and the feminine. And we all need to understand how to
embrace both sides of ourselves so that we can understand ourselves better as
well as others. You’re the one in Kinky Boots right? I am. You don’t have a hat on. No I
don’t. It’s awesome. Thank You. Thank you very much. Thank you. I’m honored to meet you in person. Thank you. Are you going to class? I am. Going to dance class? Yes. Who are you taking? Who? What kind of style is that? Cool. Well have a good class. Thank you
so much. See you later. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you too. Embracing the totality of who you are… Is the only thing that you can be. Thank you. Thank you. This character is on the journey to
self-acceptance. She finds a way to enter that journey
through being true to herself. Maple bacon and a small coffee. If you’re lying to yourself about who you are, that’s going to come out in the work. You know I’m trying to… trying to represent for the lady. This is Leo the most fabulous door man in the world. That’s what they say. Doorperson. Is that what we call you? What do we call you? What’s your official title? Sometimes a person’s personal truth is
somebody else’s fear construct. You know it’s easy to be who you are when what you are is what’s popular. Finding the courage to stand inside of a truth that’s unpopular
is hard to do. Fabulous, ok Hi guys. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello Hello. Should go through here. Hey guys. What’s happening? Josh! We just put a TV in. A lovely television. I spend more time
here than I spend at my house. I got myself a TV. I do think I understand women as much as I understand men. I actually think I understand women better. I was raised by women. You know, there were always very strong women around me. And its amazing as an actor to be able to express both sides of the coin. Lola was always living inside of me. Being in a woman’s high heel shoes is very empowering. And it makes me feel more masculine. I don’t freak out by being onstage. This is what I do. This is who I am. Being onstage is like breathing. What I do do, I do prepare everyday. [music plays] I think it’s more of a frame of mind for
those of us who do this professionally. You’re doing the same thing everyday. However it is different because your day
is different. The moment is different. The audience is different. It’s about sort of preparing yourself to walk onto the stage of the day, not the stage of
the day before or the audience three days ago that was unbelievable. It’s a test in understanding how to be
as present and in the moment that you can be. It means the breath that you’re
taking right now is the only breath that matters. The moment that is right in
front of you in this moment is the only one that matters. So the response that comes with whatever is presented to you in that moment is going to be of the moment. It’s
very high-minded. It’s very esoteric. It’s not something that you can really
explain until you’re actually in the moment. That’s what this business is
about. It’s like anybody can do it once But now you have to do it eight times a week. So how do you make that happen? You know the last scene partner that we
get is the audience. So the work does not stop. Well this is one of my favorites, Ethel Merman. And then of course we have Whoopi Goldberg during her one-woman
show. That she did on HBO that changed my life. Because it was a one-woman show with a black woman. She was black and she had dreadlocks. That’s it. That’s all I need. Angela Basset . She was on HBO and it was a
one-person show. I had never seen anything like it before. And she talked about real issues. You know? I love the little girl, the little
black girl who wanted to have long luxurious blonde hair. Because the equivalent of success was being white. I liked her. Well I’m African-American, Gay and
Christian. I think that’s enough. When do you see it? Where do you see it? Who do you see
talking about that? That has to change. You know and instead of complaining
about it i’m actually trying to be a part of the solution to what I perceived
to be the problem. Yeah, they’re closing next Monday. We all have fears and if somebody said
that they don’t have fears there a liar. Life is about figuring out how to
identify what those fears are and facing them head on, so that you can conquer them and move through them. Who do we have here? It’s Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi was actually one of the people gave me my first opportunities
and that was to play a role she made iconic. Sister Mary Clarence/Deloris van Cartier in Sister Act the Musical. It’s kinda cool to see her up here. My mom is a minister. She would start out
as a minister. She was a blues singer and she had me when she was 16. And so her
thing was that she wanted to make sure that I had opportunities that she didn’t
have and so she really pushed me. My mom always used to make me sing in church. I used to hate it. All the time. Especially when I was younger. And she used to tell me, you know you got a sing or God gave you that gift he’s going to
take it away. So from a very young age I was very
much like on the path. She put me on the path. I didn’t get to go to theater. We weren’t blessed enough to be able to afford to go to New York and see live theatre. So what I saw were films And the arts for me was like a release, escape from the real world and escape from you You know other things. And that’s where I
found my passion for acting and you know I knew that I was gonna do it from a
very young age. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know when. I don’t know for how
long. But, I’m I always pushed myself. No one was going to tell me that I
couldn’t do it. And I was gonna fight and I was gonna work as hard as I possibly could. My audition was very crazy and that I do
everything. I allowed myself to kind of for the first time not care that there
were 40 people in my audition. And to just trust myself and to trust the work. They wanted me to get on a trapeze and
go up 17 feet in the air. I hadn’t told anyone up into this point
that I was afraid of heights. But I didn’t let anyone get onto the fact that I was afraid. And then I just did it. Originally this character was made iconic by the one and only Ben Vereen It was done 40 years ago and up until this point it’s always been thought of as a man’s role. My Leading Player’s very androgynous, you
know. She’s his lover. But, she’s also his best friend. Pippin it’s about the trials we go on in
life. Leading Player is right there with him every step of the way, his good and his bad. Getting the Fosse choreography was one of the things that I really
wanted to do well. And I didn’t want it to look like Oh she’s not really dancer but she’s doing a really good job of covering. I worked with Chet Walker and Brad Musgrove and we worked tirelessly on really getting the language and
getting the vocabulary the Fosse vocabulary in my body. It wasn’t just Jazz Hands. It was just a little off. Everything was just a little off. The perfect feet thing. It was turned in so it wasn’t pretty, right? It’s the choreography is not necessarily pretty. And I just worked on it by myself. You know? Always in a mirror still to this day. I’m always in a mirror trying to
perfect it. I never really thought about it, that Ben Vereen and I have Tonys for
the same role. But it’s pretty cool. Just saying that is kind of crazy. I live a very boring life. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of energy, and ….energy to do what I do on stage at night. Doing eight shows a week can be very tiring. Being physically fit and being healthy is really important to me because it’s very dangerous our show. You have to be in control and you have to take care of yourself. So for things like that, you know, I don’t
really go to a lot of outings with friends. Which is, which sucks but you know I’m having a great time and it’s a sacrifice that I gotta have right now. So I work out and then I eat a little bit. And then I chill at home for as long as
I can. Maybe have a voice lesson on some days. And then I do the show. I usually show up a bit earlier to
stretch, warm up, do a voice warm-up. Every day is different. I feel more tired some days. I just like to be up there at full height, sometime mid height, just to
stretch. And usually after that and go back up and a half hour by that point
and then that’s when I start my process my Leading Player transformation. [Vocal Warm Ups] There are no rules for this piece. What attracted me is that I could totally look at this part as a blank canvas. And there are all the colors that, you know, maybe I want to throw on there creating my own character and creating my own journey. within the piece because there’s not
really a Leading Player journey that’s set up. All the things that I do on the show
are things that Diane, our director, and myself, we’ve come up with and and we’ve
tried all these different things to make the Leading Player a real person. And to make people feel for her in the end. The Leading Player for me in my real
life is my thoughts. That voice in your head its that voice in your head that
tells you to do certain things. Its that voice in your head that tells you not to do certain things. It’s the voice that frightens you. It’s the voice that excites you. [Vocal Warm Up] And for me on my journey throughout life,
I’ve always had this passion to keep going. You know if I fail, so what, I’m going to keep going. [PA system] This is the Act One places call. Places for the top of Act One. Places please. You’re always nervous a little bit
especially if you’re feeling a little bit more tired one day. You’re worried
about maybe a note won’t come out the way you want it to. So those kind of nerves kind of come up
right before the show. I used to let doubt come into to my mind.
Maybe I’m not good enough but I found that, you know what, you got to put all
that, your fears and all of the frustrations, we’re humans, we’re all gonna
be scared of things. You know, I’m nervous before I get on stage some
nights I’m nervous whenever I have lying anxiety. But to finally get onstage and
like lose a line and be frightened but then have to work through it, kinda like when you come out on the other side of it, it’s kinda like, what was I so afraid of. Like the show goes on. It’s a
live show. Things happen. There is always somewhere to go for me. I never feel like, I got that. That was like perfect. I’m always trying to be better and I don’t
know if I’ll ever get to the point of being perfect. But I don’t really want to be perfect. But I always want to strive to be better and better I’m never satisfied. As an artist to be satisfied with yourself and what you give, is not good. Every night on that stage I am trying to
be better than I was last night. When the lights go up, it’s time to do it. [End Credits]

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