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Style · October 29, 2015

Warrenton 4th-grader stars in D.C. musical, “Oliver!”

Tony Powell
Jake Miller performs with a 25-member cast in “Oliver!,” opening Friday.
Tony Powell
The P.B. Smith student landed the lead role for the musical at Arena Stage.
Tony Powell
Jake shares the stage with Broadway veterans including Jeff McCarthy.
He’s always been a performer, ever since he was little. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s on the stage.
— Allison Graves, music teacher at P. B. Smith Elementary
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
At age 9, he has a full-time job in acting.

Jake Heston Miller, a fourth-grade student at P.B. Smith near Warrenton, stars as the orphan boy in “Oliver!” opening Friday, Oct. 30, at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Jake joins Broadway veterans in a 25-member cast for the musical over the next two months.

The young, blond actor will perform in all 74 shows, with no substitute for his role.

“I’m incredibly proud of what he has been able to accomplish at such a young age,” his mother, Jennifer Miller said.

Directed by Molly Smith, the musical mixes Victorian London with today’s modern city.

Jake landed the lead role in April.

“It was not really a long shot because he goes to New York to do auditions” on a regular basis, said Mrs. Miller.

Dancing, singing and acting became part of his day when rehearsals started on Sept. 29.

During rehearsals, Jake attended school in the morning and practiced six to eight hours, six days a week at night.

He also received training from a dialect coach and lessons in stage fighting.

“The world is always bigger through a child’s eyes, and we see this story from Oliver’s perspective,” said Ms. Smith. “Jake is a talented young man and brings such intelligence and simplicity to the role. He's a very bright actor at such a young age.”

At age 7, Jake started working with a vocal coach and pursued singing as one of his extracurricular activities.

“He said, ‘I like to sing. It makes me happy’,” Mrs. Miller said.

With Jake’s history in modeling, his parents took the next step and hired an agent.

At 7 and 8 years old, he started auditioning for shows in New York.

“He got call backs for everything he had done; so we knew he had something special,” Mrs. Miller added.

Jake starred as Tiny Tim in “Scrooge No More” at Busch Gardens near Williamsburg last winter.

He also sang at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing, N.Y., this summer.

“He has nerves of steel,” Mrs. Miller said. “It’s really exciting to watch him grow and perform and have an outlet and being able to express himself. He loves it so much.”

Jake balances his acting career while maintaining straight A’s as an advanced student.

He also sings in honor choir at P.B. Smith Elementary.

Music teacher Allison Graves has had Jake as a student since kindergarten.

“Jake has always been talented as a vocalist,” Ms. Graves said. “He has also been a wonderful student. He is a joy to teach.

“He’s always been a performer, ever since he was little," Ms. Graves added. "It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s on the stage.”

Several teachers from the school plan to attend a performance.

“There’s been a lot of excitement,” at P.B. Smith, Ms. Graves said.

In January, Jake hopes to play basketball.

“He still needs to do kid stuff,” Mrs. Miller said.

“Oliver!” runs from Oct. 30 to Jan. 3. Ticket prices range from $50 to $99 per person.
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