The 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square has been a memorable one, so it is only apropos that the season concludes with a piece that has had audiences talking since 2011. In The Book of Mormon, two adolescent missionaries sent to a northern Uganda village end up surprising its residents with their “approach” to sharing the sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement. In this interview, Ms. Patton – originally from Northeastern Ohio -- shares her perspective and experiences as a part of the touring cast of this production.
Tell us about yourself -- how did you get here professionally?
With $500 in my pocket, a Greyhound Bus ticket to Chicago and a dream of singing and dancing since the age of 7.
Can you share your journey to the stage – especially as you are an Akron native and University of Akron graduate?
As an Akron Native, thank you to my Mother who encouraged her "Unicorn Child" to live life on her own terms and for enrolling me in a Saturday jazz class at Brad French School of Art. The University of Akron School of Dance played a large part in my formation as a professional artist. My potential was not readily recognized but then that was what propelled me.
How will it feel to be “home” as a part of Book of Mormon? Is there anything you’re looking forward to in particular while being in the Northeastern Ohio area?
After 20 years in New York, a Midwestern girl gets excited about an old fashioned mall and Swensons!!!!
As you tour this production, do you find different parts of the country or even world react in different ways to the show?
Yes, the more liberal, the less clutching of pearls-- but that has no bearing on those who can see beyond the rawness and key into the message.
How do you think your hometown will react?
I think they will laugh bravely.
Tell us a bit about your role in The Book of Mormon – was there anything unique you had to do to prepare?
One of the roles I play is Mrs. Brown. She sings The Lion King Tribute. It helps that I performed in The Lion King. I prepared for the role by trying to play and look convincingly African. I studied Ugandan dialect sites, and wore my hair wet and scrunched for the entire audition process!
Is there a specific moment or musical number in the show that really stands out for you?
I love “MAN UP”. Everyone can relate to taking a stand and believing in yourself, in spite of what others may think, do or say.
Overall what makes The Book of Mormon unique in comparison to other musicals?
It is brilliantly made. It is a good, old fashioned musical from start to finish.
What makes your experience on this tour different from other productions that you’ve been a part of in the past?
I am living my whole life with this production. I travel with my daughter and mother, and I am actively pursuing my other passions such as writing and Parler Francais [to speak French] with the support of the company.
The Book of Mormon plays in Cleveland August 25 – 30 at the State Theatre at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.
Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a yoga teacher at Evolution Yoga, an event and marketing professional and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.