The Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope has been reborn and opened with its production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “A Grand Night for Singing,” continuing through July 29.
The show features more than 30 works of the celebrated duo’s greatest hits, from “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” to “Some Enchanted Evening,” and showcases some of Broadway’s top performers, including Kenita R. Miller.
“We sing individually and as a group. Alone, I get to sing ‘If I Loved You,’ and ‘I Can’t Say No.’ One of my favorite songs, which, unfortunately I don’t get to sing in the show but is one of my favorites and the first song I ever sang in a high school recital, is ‘Something Wonderful,’” said Miller.
“A Grand Night For Singing” has been entertaining audiences since the Roundabout Theatre Company brought it to Broadway in 1993 for 93 performances. And Miller has been entertaining her family, friends, and finally awaiting audiences since she was a young child.
“My parents used to tell me I was always very dramatic,” she said. “And while a lot of people I knew did community theater, I didn’t really get involved with it until the end of my high school career when I realized I might actually become an entertainer.”
And that realization was fostered by some good teachers who recognized her talent.
“They saw that I loved to sing, that I wasn’t too bashful and that I loved all the musical theater pieces we did in school,” she said. “So they started pushing me, urging me to get involved. Today, as I look around, I feel very blessed that I had people all around me to help and guide me in the direction my life finally took.”
Later, Miller went on to study at the American Music and Dramatic Academy in New York, and after two years there, managed to book two national tours, “Civil War” with Larry Gatlin and “Ragtime.”
She also got a role as a standby for Celie on Broadway in “The Color Purple,” and later also appeared in “Xanadu.”
She says at first she felt very intimidated while appearing in “The Color Purple,” but soon began to take it all in her stride, leaving the show, but eventually coming back to claim the role of Celie as her own, and later going out on tour with the show.
For her many performances in various roles, she has received a Drama Desk nomination/Audelcoo Award. On film and TV, Miller has done roles in “Liberty City Is Like Paris To Me,” and “Sesame Street,” among others.
“As I’ve grown, I have become a bit shy but I try to hold on to the creativity I had as a child,” said Miller. “On stage, I still feel nervous and vulnerable at times, knowing people are watching me and even judging me. But I also like the adventure of it all. I love the challenge it gives me as a human being. And by doing this traditional musical theater show, I feel as though I’m paying homage to what these two great gentlemen created.”
And today, as an African-American performer, Miller said she feels especially happy to be representing her race.
“I’m very proud of who and what I am,” said Miller. “I take great joy in being African-American, and even if I’m the only one in a show, I’m proud to give audiences a different kind of perspective and let the people see this music in a different light. I want audiences to see that with me being Black I connect with the music as much as anybody else and am just as moved by it as anybody else.”
For the future, besides being open to any and every opportunity that comes her way, Miller is working on a show about the late Eartha Kitt, what she calls a “personal project that helps me stay creative between jobs. “For me, life is an adventure that I just want to keep on experiencing for as long as I can,” she said.
For times and ticket information, call (215) 315-7788.