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Style · March 12, 2018

Warrenton sixth-grader making it on big stage

Contributed Photos
Jake portrays Gustave in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom of the Opera
I miss my school sometimes. I would be in sixth grade at Marshall Middle. My sister went there and my brother is in eighth grade there. I was only home for about six weeks last year. I miss my friends and I text them a lot.
— Jake Heston Miller
By Danica Low
Contributing Writer

For most 12-year-olds, the routine includes a day of school, perhaps sports practice, dinner and some homework.

For Jake Heston Miller, a sixth-grader from Warrenton, normal has looked a lot different the last two years as he juggles elementary school classes and a professional stage career.

His exceptional singing voice became apparent at age 3.

Jake attended pre-school at Saint James Episcopal in Warrenton and played with his siblings. He gave no hint of a famed future, just a finely tuned, silky soprano voice in a boy who had graduated toddlerhood.

The youngster had a passion for singing everything he could find.

“Jake really wouldn’t stop singing around the house,” says Jennifer Miller, his mother. “We thought that a voice teacher might be able to help him sing the high notes safely.”

Jake began voice lessons at Drum & Strum on Main Street and eventually sang in the P.B. Smith Elementary School Honor Choir. He continued vocal training with Elysabeth Muscat of Gainesville.

“I always remember singing along to the radio,” says Jake. “My mom thought that doing local theatre might keep me busy.”

Jake’s first vocal audition took place in 2014 at Fauquier Community Theatre for the role of Chip in Beauty and the Beast Jr. He did not get the part.

“While we were looking for local theatres and voice coaches, I came across a message board for theatre kids trying to get into Broadway,” Mrs. Miller recalls. “Their stories reminded me of Jake.”

She sent Jake’s photos to several New York-based talent agents. After singing for them, he immediately landed three Broadway auditions and received a call-back for every one.

“That is when we knew that Jake really had a talent and belonged on a stage,” says his mom.

That year, Jake got cast in his first paid theatre production as Tiny Tim in Busch Gardens.

Then, he got selected to sing America the Beautiful at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.

Jake secured the title role in Oliver! at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where he performed 96 shows more than six months — as a fourth-grader.

He got cast in Radio City Music Hall’s Rockette’s Summer Spectacular alongside Jenna Ortega (Disney’s Stuck in the Middle) and Lilla Crawford (Broadway’s Annie, Disney’s Into the Woods).

He won a spot in the case of Broadway’s School of Rock promotional tour event in New York City. He appeared alongside actress Heidi Blickenstaff in the stage premiere of Disney’s Freaky Friday at the Signature Theatre in Arlington.

All the while, Jake attended P.B. Smith Elementary just outside of Warrenton.

He juggled school, travel for auditions and performances and a career. By fifth grade, he had become a dedicated professional on Broadway, where performers typically earn $2,000 a week.

When Jake began his first national tour with Freaky Friday a year ago, his schooling turned from a classroom-based education in Fauquier to a tour-provided tutor. His mom accompanies Jake on tour.

“I miss my school sometimes,” he says. “I would be in sixth grade at Marshall Middle. My sister went there and my brother is in eighth grade there. I was only home for about six weeks last year. I miss my friends and I text them a lot.”

Last spring, Jake auditioned for Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. He landed the part of Gustave in Love Never Dies, Mr. Webber’s sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

He remains on Broadway national tour with that show, heading to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland and San Diego, after a short break at home last week.

“When I’m home I have to go to Red Truck Bakery, Carousel Ice Cream and El Agave,” Jake says.

What advice does he have for others who aspire to make it in show business?

“Work hard, take all the lessons that you can, be professional, be quiet, watch and never stop trying,” Jake says. “You are told ‘no’ a lot in this business. Grow thick skin.”
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