Local actor Justin Miller is literally cruising back into the entertainment industry. With a six-month contract aboard the Seabourn Sojourn — a 229-suite cruise ship — Miller has been rehearsing for his role 6 days a week for 6 weeks.
Beginning in Northhampton, England, four vocalists and a dance couple rehearsed the music, staging, and choreography. They are now about the Sojourn — anchored off Piraeus, Greece — putting the entertainment production into the onboard performance space and adding in a live band. Miller will officially set sail Monday.
Being a cruise ship performer was not the path Miller originally was taking when he was part of a national touring company before the pandemic.
In February 2020, Miller was making his Broadway Series debut at the RiverPark Center playing the lead in “Finding Neverland” for his hometown audience.
Less than a month later, the show ended abruptly due to COVID.
“We went into our final performance unaware that it was, in fact, our final performance,” Miller said.
Miller thought he would be home for a month, but that month extended and he began to feel the frustration of being unable to pursue his career and passion. He shifted his mindset and said he began embracing the “little silver linings” around him, including experiencing his nephew’s first year of life and valuing all aspects of his life.
Miller joined the Interactive Film Series at the RiverPark Center and reconnected with colleagues while performing with films. He performed in “Guys and Dolls” with Kentucky Wesleyan College and also in “Bright Star” with Encore Musicals.
“I am so thankful for those productions as I was able to reconnect with friends and mold new friendships,” Miller said. “Those experiences were such joyful spots in the middle of a fairly dark time in the world, and seeing those groups of incredibly talented local artists come together to put on such special shows was definitely a highlight of my time at home.”
With the industry gradually returning from the pandemic, Miller was submitting recorded material for auditions for various companies. When a casting call for a cruise ship performer became available, Miller submitted material and was offered a role with the company.
He is excited about the travel as well as the variety of material in the shows.
“We perform a repertoire ranging from Stevie Wonder to classical, operatic material,” he said.
Miller will also have the opportunity to explore the ports of Spain, France, and Italy with other ports added to various itineraries.
“When we aren’t doing shows, we are able to go ashore to explore these wonderful destinations and we also have the opportunity to socialize with our guests by hosting dinners with them or just mingling throughout the day to ensure they’re enjoying their time sailing with us,” he said.
Miller said he still approaches performing as he always has – taking opportunities as they come.
“I still have my dreams and aspirations of taking my career on the stage to new heights professionally, of course,” he said. “But I am a firm believer there is a way everything is meant to happen and I will gladly welcome any opportunities that come my way.”