Kristina Miller-Weston is a true multi-hyphenate. From acting, dancing, singing in Musical Theater shows, to performing in comedy shorts to producing her own content and being a live performer for Universal Parks, Kristina has been playing iconic characters and creating new ones for some time now.
1. Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a bit about your childhood?
I grew up in Scottsdale Arizona with my amazing parents and a lot of dogs. Most of my childhood was spent in a dance studio or singing in church. By the time I was in middle school I was training 30-40 hours a week as a dancer. Growing up an only child meant I became really good at creating a world of adventure in my room or the backyard. I also fancied myself a producer and creative at a young age. I would create shows with my friends and charge my parents the couch change to come see them. Made tickets and everything. I had a lot of gumption at that age even though I was told by my singing teacher that I was tone deaf. But my mom always said, “You can do anything you set your mind to, little missy.” I very much took that to heart and never stopped training, never stopped reaching for the stars.
2. What made you want to get into acting/performing?
Growing up, my dad exposed me to all the classic Movie Musicals. Everything about them made me want to be a part of that world. But it wasn’t until I was eleven and we took a trip to London that I decided I was going to be an actor. My dad had seen Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap when he was in London in his twenties. Agatha’s books were some of the only books that interested me as a kid, so my dad insisted we go see Mousetrap while we were there. I remember it vividly. When we got to the theater that night it just felt magical. The theatre was old and had a lovely musty smell to it. If those walls could talk… The place was packed. They had the sign in the lobby showing the counter for how long the show had been running and of course in my eleven year old brain I thought “these actors have been doing this show for 50 years! That’s amazing!” I was on the edge of my seat the entire show, which says a lot considering how uncomfortable those seats were. But there was magic that night and I walked out of the theater thinking “That’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”
3. You have BFA from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Tell us about the training involved to get this degree.
My time at AMDA was a whirlwind. I was first admitted to the two-year conservatory program which was very intensive. Including rehearsals and classes I was spending about 60-70 hours a week training. I loved every second of it. I had never been afforded the time to just focus solely on this thing I wanted so desperately to make my life. Like I said before, people thought I was tone deaf but when I found the right teacher at AMDA everything changed. Turned out I just had to big of a voice that I didn’t have the right tools to control. As I was finishing my two years there the school added the BFA program and offered me a scholarship to be a part of the inaugural class. It would only be an additional year and a half of credits, so I figured why not. It was crazy! Because we were the first, we got a lot of one-on-one time with some amazing teachers. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. We even did the school’s first book musical production, “Little Shop of Horrors”, in which I played Audrey.
4. What has been some of the most special musical theater productions you’ve been a part of?
Oh man this one is tough. I have had the privilege of working on some crazy stuff and with some amazing people. Some stand outs are working with Dick Van Dyke on Cabaret, Swinging for Jersey Boys, playing Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda and working with Sally Struthers was a blast. But there are two roles that have changed my world. Teresa in the International Tour of Barbie, Live the Musical and Queenie in Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party. Yes, they are polar opposites, but I think that kind of defines who I am as an actor. I’m Carol Burnett meets a wild blonde who will gut you if you cross her. But in all seriousness Barbie was an adventure of a lifetime. I traveled to 12 countries, did press, and performed in stadiums with 10,000 people in the stands. Not to mention I got to make kids laugh on the daily. Queenie was exhilarating in a different way. The Wild Party was in a hole in the wall theatre in Hollywood with max 60 people a night. But she was glorious to step into six times a week. Her story is tragic but important and one I think most woman can relate to in some compacity or another. It was an honor to tell her story.
5. What are some of your favorite Broadway shows in general?
The Wild Party, Come From Away, Hamilton (Saw the original Broadway cast and it was life changing), Cabaret (Sally is a bucket list), and 42nd St (First professional job I ever had).
6. What made you want to enter into the film space?
Working in Film/TV has always been a goal, but Theatre opportunities just presented themselves first. Both mediums offer unique storytelling abilities and I want to do all of it. Let me be Queenie in a whole in the wall theatre and the newest member of the Marvel Universe! Acting is acting, doesn’t matter where you do it. Tell a story and move people, that’s my job.
7. Tell us about The Ryzza Mae Show.
That was one of the silliest things I’ve ever done. When we were in Manila for Barbie, we did a ton of press, including singing on Manila Idol. But Ryzza was so much fun. She was an eight- year-old talk show/game show host. We went on her show to promote Barbie and she had to speak English, she normally spoke Tagalog on her show, but because we were American, she wanted to speak English. When we were backstage, she was practicing with us and at one point she yelled “Nosebleed” both Chelsea (Who played Barbie) and I panicked and thought something was wrong, turns out that is slang for “It’s all too much! I don’t know what they are saying!” She had more gumption and bravery than I have seen in most adults.
8. What has been your favorite film or TV project you’ve worked on so far?
In the Closet has to be my favorite. It stemmed from my husband writing me a scene I could film to have on my reel, but the concept was too good not to just make it into a full-fledged short. In the Closet is a hilarious comedy short about two women and what can happen when you find yourself in a closet after an unfortunate night. It was so much fun to make. I produced and Stephen directed. We built a walk-in closet in our living room from some old theater flats and some doors we found at the dump. We shot the whole 10 minute short in one day. It was crazy, exhausting but so much fun. So many of our talented friends worked on it with us. Tyler Milliron did all the editing in NYC, James Gallagher wrote the original score, Micah Zarlow was the director of photography and Craig McEldowney was there on the day to help with sound. We ended up finalizing at 7 festivals both domestic and international. If you would like to watch it here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-ZNbOlXnXM&t=2s
9. You’ve started producing work as well. What insight has producing projects given you about this artform?
Producing your own work is a journey. It’s like a chose your own adventure book. You think you have a plan but inevitably a curve ball is thrown. It’s what I love about the process. I also love the comradery of it all. No matter what medium you’re producing in, it takes a village.
10. Any stories from set you can share?
When I was on Murder Among Friends, I had to play the dead version of myself on an autopsy table. I had crazy burn make up all over me and I had to be on a real autopsy table which is the coldest most uncomfortable place to be when you’re wearing next to nothing. Of course, they needed me to be completely still, but I could not stop shivering. Oddly, one of the most challenging scenes I’ve ever shot. But what was really funny was when I got home. So, I shot Murder Among Friends the week before my wedding. Which meant all my in-laws from England were staying in our one-bedroom apartment for a couple of nights before we went up to Monterey. After I was done shooting this scene, which remember included a lot of FX burn make-up, I had to drive home with it on. So, I open the door and my sister in-law gets up to greet me only to find a bloody burned face. It was hilarious! Well, maybe you had to be there…
I have been a swing for four shows in my life. Each time there has been a moment of being thrown in the deep end. The first show I ever swung was a show called Boomermania and I covered all three women in the show. One night I got a call 3 hours to curtain saying one of the girl’s lost their voice and wouldn’t be going on that night. I had yet to have any sort of proper rehearsal for this show nor did I have my own costumes. So I shows up at the theatre with a script and suitcase full of clothes and got to work. I was rehearsing the big monologue in the first act with the directors while our stage manager followed me with needle and thread sewing me in the other actress costume. That night I lost my pants, bra and wig on stage. It was the most freeing experience of my life. I ended up in the track for about three weeks in the end.
I also was a swing for Warren Carlyle’s Havana. Again, I understudied all the females. And again, the lead triple threat had to call out with a couple hours’ notice. This show was big and involved a lot of dance lifts, falls and Brazilian rope dancing. So while I was being refitted into someone else’ costumes and doing a run through I just prayed I wouldn’t fall on my face. The show went off without a hitch. All of my castmates shoved with love that night and I could not have been more grateful.
11. Last year you were performing for Universal Studios Hollywood Park. What was that experience like?
I’ve actually had the pleasure of working Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood three years running. Except last year of course. My first two years I was one of the Singing Martha May’s which was an absolute blast! And then in 2019 the creatives decided to change things up and discontinue the Martha May show. So, I went in and auditioned for a regular Who but as luck would have it, they were adding a couple of new characters that year. Sibling Whos, who were DJs. Yup I got to live my best life as a who DJ with a shaved head and mohawk. Dazzle J Who, was a blast! I got to lead dance parties and joke around with guests and not wear heels and a corset! Most people ask how I breathe in the nose and the truth is you don’t. Yes, for those who don’t know we spend an hour in the make-up chair every day for Grinchmas to have prosthetics applied to our faces, so we look like the Whos from Jim Carey’s the Grinch. It is the best seasonal job because the cast is always full of joy and the guests light up when they enter Whoville.
My last year on the snowflake as Dazzle J Who I was also two months pregnant and just trying to not vomit while they put my nose on every morning.
Hopefully 2021 we will be able to bring some Christmas Joy to the masses again.
12. How have you been dealing with COVID as an actress, performer, and producer?
It has been sad really. But I know it’s all for the greater good. I was lucky to land a fun day job casting Audiobooks back at the beginning of 2020 which has enabled me to keep working in some creative capacity. I also had a baby in July and bought a house. Why not try to do all the things during the apocalypse. I’ve been spending the downtime I have in classes trying to stay sharp but still needed another creative outlet which led to me starting a Podcast with one of my dearest friends, Bobby Traversa. My Favorite Flop is a podcast all about Broadway’s musical misfits and fabulous failures. It has been a wonderful outlet to geek out and seems to be bringing some real joy to theatre actors and fans alike. You can find us where ever you get your podcasts or at www.myfavoriteflop.com
13. What’s up next for you?
I’m not sure! My Favorite Flop is taking off so that is where a lot of my focus has been right now. I’ve also been writing and exploring that creative side. I’m hoping that when the world opens back up again, I can reproduce my one woman show “OUT LOUD!” This was a cabaret show I wrote and produced at The Rockwell Table and Stage in the fall of 2019. The plan was to then bring it to the Fringe Festival and some other venues, but COVID. If you want to see some songs from the show, they are on my YouTube channel. This includes a wonderful one-woman rendition of One Day More where I play all the characters… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkf2zUI-DecWgE9l3n_9e0w
Chris also has the pitch deck if anyone is interested.