In the midst of her post-Tony nomination whirlwind, Once star Cristin Milioti is probably saying a very special thank you to the man who helped her land a part in the musical in the first place, Broadway vet Santino Fontana. In an earlier interview with Broadway.com, Milioti credited her friend, “an incredible piano player,” with getting her ready to audition for the role of Girl, a Czech pianist who makes beautiful, life-changing music with an Irish singer-songwriter. Broadway.com recently chatted with Fontana about the piano lessons that helped get Milioti to the 2012 Tony Awards.
“She’s a great student,” said classically trained pianist Fontana of his one-time pupil. “She was freaking out about this audition for Once and she had only a couple weeks and I said, ‘You’re gonna be fine. Trust me, you’ll be fine,’” he remembered. For the audition Milioti was required to play “The Hill” from Once and as well as a song of her choice. “I found her a classical piece, 'Für Elise', and because she knew the melody, half the battle was done," Fontana said of the song selection. "I just wrote out all the fingering and I told her, ‘You need to practice for six hours a day,’ which she did. Then I’d drop in and be like, ‘No, you’re doing that wrong, you’re doing this wrong.’ It was great.”
The hard work obviously paid off when Milioti was offered the role, and Fontana only asked one thing in return. “I said, ‘If you get it, you have to give me tickets to the opening,’” Fontana recalled. “Which she did!”
Fontana is set to return to Broadway during the 2012-13 season opposite Laura Osnes in Cinderella.