Combining their love of theatre with their passion for wholesome, God-honoring entertainment, Emily and Lacy Miller founded a Christian theatre company, Broadway on the Driveway. The Miller sisters produce theatricals such as “Sound of Music,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Little Women – The Broadway musical,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Swing St. Louis.” They also offer Ballet, Tap, Musical Theatre, Piano, and Voice lessons, all taught from a Christian perspective. Through their classes and productions, the Miller sisters endeavor to shine a light of purity in the entertainment industry.
Emily and Lacy began this remarkable sister act at the ages of 10 and 8. Their first theatre was their driveway in Ballwin, Missouri.
Tell about your very first production.
We threaded a garden hose through a bed-sheet hem and hung it across the garage. We posted audition notices and cast about 15 friends and neighbors in the show. Audience members brought lawn chairs and sat in our yard and driveway to watch the show. We had such a wonderful time that we have kept up the tradition of a summer musical ever since.How has your production company evolved since then?
As we accumulated cast and audience members we began to outgrow the driveway. One year the Ballwin police showed up and helped us decide it was time to move on to other venues. Our parents were relieved because complete strangers were coming up to them at intermission, telling us we had run out of toilet paper!
When did you two first discover your love for performing onstage?
As far back as we can remember, we have always loved performing.
What dramatic background did you have before you began Broadway on the Driveway?
Very little. We just loved doing it and learned as we went along. Over the years we have received private training in dance and voice.
What inspired you to start Broadway on the Driveway?
We had seen a production on the Goldenrod Showboat and were so inspired that we decided to hold auditions and direct our own play on our driveway in 1995. At the time we were 8 and 10.
How does your homeschool experience affect your approach to stage drama?
We were so blessed to have had the opportunity to be homeschooled. The values instilled in us by our parents at young ages have helped us to form discernment in shows we select each year.What are your unique, individual talents that enable you to work well as a team?
Emily’s gift is directing. She loves to dig deep into character development and design the staging and blocking. Her true passion is choreography. Every show includes a variety of dancing, especially tap-dancing!
Lacy is our artistic director and costume designer. She enjoys designing and sewing costumes. She also manages our website design and marketing.
Both enjoy working with cast members on their vocal technique and vocal safety. Having each other to bounce ideas off of works well.
Briefly describe the process of preparing for, advertising, and producing your shows.
We begin with prayerfully selecting a show and submitting a license request. If a script contains profanity and innuendo, we then submit a written request to remove inappropriate material. Many license companies grant special permission for organizations working with young people.
Next we secure a venue (currently Missouri Baptist University) and post an audition notice. The show is cast by a panel of judges, roles are posted, and rehearsals begin. The cast generally rehearses 3-4 days a week for about 6 weeks at a donated facility and then moves into the theatre for intense tech rehearsals with lighting, sound, costumes and set.Much of our advertising is done by word-of-mouth. We also submit information to local newspapers and TV stations. Total attendance ranges between 2500-2700 for three performances. At the end of each show, someone from the cast gives a message of salvation or a testimony. Our prayer is that no one leaves a performance without hearing the good news of Jesus!
Do you try to impart lessons to your students beyond performing skills?
We pray that students feel inspired and encouraged to use their gifts for the Lord. Since pursuing a career in the entertainment industry can often lead to compromise, students are encouraged to seek the Lord’s wisdom and discernment for using their gifts.
How do you think theatre impacts culture?
Theatre is a powerful way to make a connection with many different types of people. Musical theatre can potentially bring out your deepest emotions. Whether you connect with a spectacular score of musical numbers, dazzling costumes, skilled dancers flying and leaping across the stage or the message of the story being told, you will leave the theatre with something meaningful etched in your memory. One of the most effective ways to have a voice in the culture is to present your message in the form of entertainment. True entertainment seizes your attention and invites you to watch, to listen and to think.How do you hope to improve your generation’s approach to the performing arts?
It is our desire to see Christians striving for excellence without getting sucked into the idolization of today’s performers and artists. We believe that true success is finding out what God wants you to do and doing it to the best of your ability.
How do you two hope to inspire the next generation of Christian performers?
We hope to inspire young people to strive for excellence in the arts without compromise. God has been working in so many lives!
We got a phone call from one of our former cast members who was studying theatre at a Christian college. In one of his theatre classes, he was asked to use vulgar profanity and to interact suggestively with girls. As uncomfortable as this was, the young man politely objected to the theatrical material he was being asked to do. This decision made him very unpopular with his classmates and teacher.
A young lady that we know turned down an opportunity to play the leading lady in a Shakespearian drama because she would have to kiss a man that she wasn’t married to.
Another young lady we work with was offered a job as a costume seamstress with a professional theatre company. After looking into the company she realized that her job would entail sewing several immodest and seductive costumes. She turned down the seamstress opportunity.
We hope to hear more stories like this and to see Christians flourish in the arts as they remember that their bodies are the temple of God.
Learn more about Broadway on the Driveway.