By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
Cristin Milioti is no stranger to Kendall Hall at the College — she spent the summer when she was 16 years old studying theater in The Don Evans Black Box Theatre with the Governor’s School. She was excited for the transition to perform on the Kendall Main Stage on Tuesday, April 14, where she once received her Governor’s School diploma.
Milioti returned to the College for an evening of music and conversation, a “real treat” since ending her run as Girl in the Broadway musical “Once.” Performing with her former “Once” co-stars, Will Connolly and David Abeles, the trio brought a laid-back but fun atmosphere to the stage.
“We hadn’t played together in nine months,” Milioti said. “It’s something we get to do together a couple times a year, but I wish it was more.”
During her performance, Milioti chose her small setlist to be comprised of the songs that most inspired her and had the biggest impact on her life. It was only fitting that she began with “Gold” from the Tony award-winning musical that started her on the road to success and formed the friendships she brought along with her on stage.
Later, in a moderated discussion, Milioti talked more about her time working on “Once,” from starting out in a bar basement in Cambridge, Ma. to how those small beginnings affected her reaction to the show’s slew of Tony nominations.
“I have a regret in that time in my life — I wanted to protect the show and keep it a gem,” Milioti said. “I wish I had taken more time to enjoy everything that was happening to me.”
Milioti’s role in “Once” led to her instant classic, last-season casting on the hit sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” as none other than the Mother, also known as Tracy McConnell. Milioti admitted she had never seen the show before landing the role and didn’t truly understand the significance of the part.
Unlike other characters that were able to bring lots of pieces of their own life into their “HIMYM” roles, Milioti didn’t have as much freedom playing McConnell. She did, however, bring one piece of herself into the role — her ukulele that she carries everywhere with her, including her performance at the College. Confessing that she was pretty sure her dad bought the instrument from Target, she said she only feels comfortable playing that one specifically. Even when the producers of “HIMYM” gave her a brand new one to play in the show, she kindly refused it and played her personal one.
Milioti kept her performance at the College personal by providing the audience with a listen to her very first original song, “Glacial Sentiment.” The song was extremely poetic with lyrics such as, “You are halfway across the globe, near glaciers and sea birds, and there is no earthly way to hold your hand.” Milioti admitted before singing that sharing her own music is frightening to her, and she has been trying harder to face that fear. The audience greeted her with roaring applause that surely put her nerves at ease.
Milioti joked about her nerves by pulling from her Jersey roots.
“It’s the Jersey in me,” Milioti said with a Jersey accent. “I always say, ‘I don’t care what you think about my song,’ but I secretly do care.”
Milioti grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J. and noted that even though she played a “typical Jersey girl” as Teresa Petrillo Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it was not a role she was used to playing. She did, however, love the role because it embodied what she loved most about acting — having a wig and an accent. She continued that trend in her music, providing the squeaky voice in what was supposed to be her closing number, “Four Five Seconds.” However, Milioti has taken up an interest in improv comedy of late and thus included an impromptu encore. The trio did an acoustic cover of “Skinny Love” with no mics or amps — just two guitars and a stool.
Milioti ended the show with a vibrant exclamation —“We did it!” After imparting both wisdom and laughs to the audience, she laughed about her next adventure — finding the nearest Wawa, which she confessed backstage she was looking forward to finding on her trip to Jersey.