Tony winner Lauren Patten wears a green tank top
Lauren Patten. Photo provided.

It’s a familiar story: a small-town singer with big dreams meets someone who’s already on the rise. We could be talking about A Star is Born, but we’re not. Instead, Off-Broadway strikes again with a queer narrative proving that smaller, nonprofit theater companies have a better grip on LGBTQ+ voices than the big spenders in Times Square.

Lauren Patten is familiar with both worlds. The wildly talented singer-actor-musician made her Broadway debut in Fun Home and won a Tony Award for her bristling performance in Jagged Little Pill. Patten returns to the stage this summer in the intimately immersive new musical The Lonely Few.

Patten plays Lila, the frontperson of a local band in a small Kentucky town, trying to keep herself and her imbibing brother from going down a depressive rabbit hole. When Amy (Taylor Iman Jones), a singer who’s achieved modest success, sparks fly both on and offstage. Lila’s band joins Amy on tour, and the sapphic storyline kicks into high gear.

The Lonely Few premiered last spring at Geffen Playhouse. With some casting changes and a tighter script, the show arrives Off-Broadway for a limited run. Queerty caught up with Patten after opening night (the New York Times named it a Critics’ Pick) to learn more about what makes this powerhouse performer tick.

The most empowering part of being and playing a queer woman onstage is … 

Connecting with other queer folks both backstage and at the stage door. It’s empowering to feel the comfort and joy in people’s spirits because we are creating a space that centers and celebrates us.

I knew I’d have onstage chemistry with Taylor Iman Jones when …

I saw how much we laughed together in rehearsal. We were always cracking jokes and doing things to make the other person break — to the point where our directors occasionally needed to reel us in and remind us to focus. By then, it was clear that we were going to create something truly joyful for these two characters. 

Lauren Patten, left, and Taylor Iman Jones in MCC Theater's "The Lonely Few."
Lauren Patten, left, and Taylor Iman Jones in MCC Theater’s “The Lonely Few.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

At my dressing table, you’ll find …

A steamer and a humidifier, a couple of books, a bunch of Therabands, and a soft blanket for naps. 

If I had to pick one rock album to take to a desert island, this would be it …

This is Why, Paramore’s latest album. My answer to this kind of question is always in flux based on what I’m listening to at the moment, but Paramore has a very special place in my heart, and I love this album. Hayley Williams is a huge influence for me vocally and as a concert performer. I admire her so much. Also a big queer ally! We love.

The LGBTQ+ person I’d love to collaborate with …

Brandi Carlile, hands down! I’m openly campaigning to get her to come to The Lonely Few. I’d do anything with her.

My biggest onstage mishap happened when …

A string popped on our Stratocaster mid-show at the top of a song, and I had to run offstage and try to fix it. My co-star Damon rolled with it, and they did a no-guitar version of the song until we got a different guitar up and running with a patch for the song. Just in case you didn’t think we were really playing the instruments, that proved it!

Lauren Patten plays the guitar in a scene from the musical "The Lonely Few."
Lauren Patten in “The Lonely Few.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

The show that changed my life …

Fun Home. I made my Broadway debut with that musical, and for a multitude of reasons, it is one of the most formative experiences of my life. It is, to this day, my favorite musical, and I am honored to have been part of it. It was also my first experience having queer community beyond gay men. There is so much love in that group!

The Lonely Few plays at MCC Theater in New York City through June 9.

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