In the corporate world, employees leaving a job are asked to sit through a sometimes grueling "exit interview" about their time at the company. Although that concept doesn't exist for Broadway performers, we think it's fun to check in with stars as they finish up a successful run. Below, Tony nominee Cristin Milioti (who departs her breakout role in the hit musical Once on March 24) takes a trip down memory lane as she revisits her incredible journey with Broadway’s most unique musical.
How did you feel when you first got the job?
Elated and terrified all in the same breath. But mostly elated.
How do you feel now that you’re leaving?
I'm incredibly sad, and heartbroken in a way that's hard to describe properly. This show has changed my life in a profound way, and it's a very odd feeling to leave something that means so much and that will continue after you're gone. But I also know it's my time to go. (I realize upon rereading that answer that it sounds rather dramatic, but it's true.)
What are three words you would use to describe your experience in Once?
Love. Light. Gold.
What was the easiest thing about the job?
The fact that I got to do what I love most in this world eight times a week.
What was the hardest thing?
Doing this show eight times a week—it is a three-hour marathon.
What was the highlight of your time in Once?
Too many to list, but I'll share one very fond memory: my birthday is in August and it fell on a show night. That night as I walked through my cast during "Gold" at the end of Act 1, I started weeping with joy at how lucky I was to know these people and to make music with them and to be a part of this show and to just be alive and to be doing what I love. I was so indescribably happy—I never wanted that moment to end. Also, wait, wait, wait, one more! On Tony night, at the after-party, John Tiffany, Martin Lowe, David Abeles, Will Connolly and I got around a grand piano and sang ourselves hoarse until 4AM. We were crying and hugging and swaying in all of our finery and it was so beautiful. I never wanted that moment to end either.
What advice would you give to future “job applicants”?
Never stop practicing, never stop finding new things and, above all, be nice.
How do you think you’ve grown during your time in Once?
I'm a completely different actor, for one. This show has been like an acting boot camp. And I'm a much better musician (although that might not be saying much since I wasn't really much of one to begin with). I've also learned so much about people and about life—lessons that go far outside the realm of theater. I'm not kidding when I say this show has changed my life. (I'm giving you full drama today, Broadway.com!)
Why are you leaving?
At first it was because I wanted to leave while I still loved this show as much as I did on the first day (which I still do). I didn't want it to feel like a job and I was lucky enough to be able to do that. But now, as fate would have it, I start a new job the very next day. So it was supposed to be my time to go anyway…
What will you miss most about the job?
The people and the music. No question.