There are many words to describe Meredith Patterson.
Talented. Driven. Capable.
Bright. Smart. Joyful.
Devoted. Modest. Gracious.
She is all these traits and many more, and millions are better for it.
But one word stands out above all these. One word in particular seems to fit better than the others.
It’s a word perhaps too often thrown around in the wrong way and too seldom displayed in the right way.
But, here, with her, it fits. It suits her. If I was not sure of it when we first communicated, I am certain of it now.
I hope you will be, too.
The word is love.
Her love for performing is larger than Broadway itself. Her love for tap is louder than a chorus line (I can’t count how many times she’s mentioned “tap” or the like on Twitter). Her love for family fills me with hope. Her love for a better, kinder, happier world reassures me.
You’ll hopefully come to see this, too, when reading her interview further down the page, but, for now, let us celebrate the very gift she’s been blessed with. Tap.
There’s no point putting it off. I love this routine of hers. It is one of the finest renditions of “I Love A Piano” I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing.
What glamour. She is radiant, shining as a light by which the show is seen.
What ability. She is captivating, unmissable in every step.
What charm. She is charisma, inviting us into this narrative.
Her tapping is excellent, her footwork second to none.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this routine is how much personality she puts into her steps and how much character she extracts from Randy Skinner’s brilliant choreography.
When she and lead Jeffry Denman (incredible, what a performer) trade taps between 0:35 and 0:52, her brief solos––bookended by the smallest of pauses in music and tapping, thus highlighting her rhythm––are but an exclamation of speech, replying to her co-star, speaking to us.
His feet motor away until hers, at 0:40, give a brief but memorable reply.
Tap is, in itself, exuberant, pulsating, and inspiring, but can, through the feet of a lesser artist, run the risk of being too loud, too messy, and too repetitive.
Meredith doesn’t let that happen. She gives life to tap. She gives her shoes a unique and enthralling voice. There is heart, humour, and attitude in Meredith and Jeffry’s brief exchanges, and I could listen to their chatter without tire.
I also take it that Meredith wouldn’t let that happen because of her keen sense of care. She is a teacher. She wishes to not only preserve tap, but, more importantly, help better others. She takes artists with lesser ability and transforms them, lifting them to her level.
Even on the smallest of stages, she, in the video below, manages to replicate and embody all the charm, class, and charisma of big-time Broadway. The roundedness of her voice combined with the subtle sway in her arms are that of a seasoned entertainer, and her modest, almost casual facial expression, particularly between 1:29 and 1:37, suggests a cool effortlessness, as in yes, don’t mind me––I’m tapping now, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Her little tap routine here reminded me of those danced by Eleanor Powell. She makes the steps look simple.
While she could undoubtedly dance those steps in her sleep, it’s the modestly relaxed expression on her face and her body movement that convince us that her breaking into a little tap dance is quite normal and simple. It’s all in the performance. She owns the song, she owns the dance, she owns the stage, she owns the spotlight, and she owns the audience. And because she gives so much to her performance, we give so much of our attention to her.
But if you think her skills are limited to just the stage, I’d ask you to consider her performance in the TV series Person of Interest, in which she excelled in a role that tested her both physically and emotionally.
In the episode “Judgement,” her character is shown to be captured.
Though she is in a position of powerlessness, we do not think for one second that she holds any less power, and she convinces us of this not with body language, movement, nor speech, but with her eyes only. That she can convey such emotion and strength through just her eyes is both a remarkable feat and a testament to her skill as an actress, which is also on show in her Boston Legal appearance––quite the departure from POI.
Playing opposite Candice Bergen, her role as “Missy” is delightfully charming, kooky, and authentically spontaneous. She lights up the screen and it is an absolute joy to watch. Every time I see her in this role, I am immediately happier.
It’s incredible. Her versatility is astoundingly outstanding, and one cannot question the genuineness in each of her performances. She can play concerned as well as she can comfortable, she can play weak just as convincing as she can strong, and she can play silly with as much realism as she can seriousness.
What a performer. Whether hoofing on stage or glaring on screen, I am left amazed by each and every one of her works.
And her voice is like something straight out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her rendition of “Angel Eyes” echoes back to the nightclub jazz of classic film noir; I can see a femme fatale in a glittering red gown lying on a piano in a darkly lit backroom filled with smoke puffed by a crowd of detectives and gangsters watching on.
All that just from her voice and the music. She takes you to a world both familiar and unknown, a place you can’t help but fall in love with, a place you want to stay in, a place straight out of a dream.
In a word? Love. Because it is only out of love that she creates such art for the betterment and joy of others, be they family or be they stranger.
Interview with Meredith Patterson
1. When, where, and why did you start tap, and what do you like about it?
I started tap dancing when I was 2 1/2. I was brought to the dance studio from the time I was a baby. My Mom would bring me to watch my brother and sisters dance classes. When I was old enough to stand, I would stand next to my sisters class and learn the steps. When I was 2 my mother asked the teacher if I could please join a class because I was stealing my sisters tap shoes and running around the house wanting to tap dance. The youngest student allowed was 3 years old. But the teacher made an exception and let me take class. And from then on, I never stopped tap dancing. That studio was Rita Barker’s Concord Young World School Of Dance in Concord, CA. My father is a drummer, so maybe it is genetic but I have always loved tap because of the percussion, the rhythmic ability I have as a dancer. Along with the other aspects of dance; turning, jumping, and expressing myself to music. I have never known my life without dancing in it.
2. What is/are your favorite tap steps?
When I was young it was anything fast, but I love space and pauses in tap dancing. One step I have always loved is peridittles, I’m always doing them while I’m waiting for the elevator, or when I was in NYC, on the subway platform. If I have on shoes that make any noise (high heels, boots) I will do peridittles.
3. What was it like working with the Coen brothers and teaching Channing Tatum to tap for Hail, Caesar!? How did that opportunity come about?
It was wonderful to work on this film. I was able to work with the Coen Brothers in the pre production process, and with choreographer Chris Gattelli from the beginning. Chris and I worked together previously, and he knew I was in Los Angeles. He asked if I would be willing to help him with this film. He also asked if I would personally coach Channing Tatum how to tap dance. I was flattered at the opportunity and after meeting Channing, we got to work in the studio. For about 3 months we worked weekly on his tap dance ability. It was hard for him to grasp the percussive nature of tap, but as you can see, in the final performance on film, he did a great job.
4. What’s your favorite tap number/routine you’ve performed, and what would be your dream performance?
My favorite tap number I have performed on stage was definitely the number “Plenty Of Money and You” from the Revival of 42nd ST on Broadway. Thankfully my performance of this was recorded for The Lincoln Center Archives in NYC, so it wasn’t lost in the ether of live theatre! My dream performance would be tapping the famous number “Begin The Beguine” with Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire in a movie musical. I believe La La Land the movie did a similar type of number for the movie with a shiny floor?
5. What does your family think of tap and you as a tapper? Do they share your passion for the form?
My family has always been very supportive of me dancing and performing. They only wish I was more celebrated because they know all the blood, seat and tears I have put into my career. They wish (as do I) that I was able to make a living doing what I love. In this day and age, tap dancers, and triple threat artists in general aren’t celebrated as they once were in the movie musicals. The movie industry would rather cast someone with very little skill and try to teach them how to dance, than do what used to be done, make the artist into a movie star by featuring them and their tremendous skill. In my career, I have always longed for the Golden Age of Hollywood.
6. Having starred and shone in both 42nd Street and White Christmas, what’s it like to be a part of two of theatre’s most iconic musicals?
Its a dream come true, and something I am very proud to have been a part of. I hope its not the pinnicle of my career in theatre or otherwise, but for right now, it is.
7. What was the best part about playing Judy Haynes, and would you play her again?
The best part about playing Judy Haynes was the ability to do almost everything I excel at. The style, the charm, a little of the humor, the ballroom and tap dancing. It was a role that I shaped and created alongside the tremendous creative team, and am so grateful for. Oh, and the clothes! The fantastic and iconic 1950’s costumes were just what my body has been dying to wear my entire career! I played Judy for 10 years, all over the country and on Broadway. I will not be playing Judy Haynes again, but I would love to now graduate to play her sister, Betty. I have been approached about this a few times and I believe I am now ready to give that role a try. And who knows, if the show is still around in 20 years, maybe I can try my hand at Martha!
8. You guest-starred on Boston Legal for a number of episodes. How was that experience?
It was a dream. I have always been a fan of David E Kelley and his style of comedy. I was so fortunate to be cast as the over the top character Missy Tiggs, it was my first TV experience. To make my TV debut opposite Candace Bergen and Tom Selleck was a dream come true. I hoped it went on forever. I would work for David E Kelley for the rest of my career!
9. Your role on Person of Interest seemed both physically and emotionally challenging (but which you pulled off naturally). How did you prepare for the role and what did you take from it?
Thank you. I honestly was surrounded by incredible actors and crew. When that happens, it makes your job easy. A lot of the episode was shot on location in NYC and one of the scenes wasn’t written as being in the rain, but it was pouring that day, so that’s how we shot it. It made it more dramatic. Working on the end scene with Taraji P Henson was one of my favorite moments. Being tied up with tape on my mouth was awesome.
10. What projects are you working on or have coming up?
I starred in a short film called WHAT IF WENDY that is currently being entered in many film festivals and gaining recognition. It debuted online with a company called Film Shortage and is going to be featured on another Sci Fi Website very soon. You can watch it here
11. Who and/or what inspires you?
Great talent and hard work inspires me. Its something I strive for as an artist myself and you can see the artists who have that tenacious and ambitious drive to be the best they can be. Right now, in pop culture, Bruno Mars inspires me. I think if given a task, there isn’t anything he can’t do.
12. How did you and your husband meet, and how special is it for you to perform with him?
My husband Dustin Brayley and I met doing the musical GREASE in Beach Haven, NJ. I was Sandy and he was Kenicke. It was a small production at The Surflight Theatre right on the beach. It was a magical summer and an experience we will never forget. Performing with him now just makes my heart and spirit soar. I wish we got to perform together more often.
13. What do you want your kids to see when they’re watching you perform on stage or screen?
I want my children to see that Daddy and Mommy love what we do!! That’s what I want for them, to do whatever they are passionate about and what makes them happy. I believe they see that what Mommy and Daddy do makes us happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? Being passionate and being able to do the thing you are meant to do in life?
14. How does tap make people’s lives better?
Tap makes people’s lives better by bringing joy, elation and rhythm to their lives! There is a reason 42nd ST is a huge hit in London, it’s because it is an art form that just brings joy. You cannot sit in the audience of a tap show, anywhere, and not feel happy! The ripple effect is tremendous. I have always thought that there should always be a tap show on Broadway because people’s spirits need to feel that joy!
15. How does what you do make the world better?
I would hope that what I do makes the world better because it is a reflection of what makes my life better. Whenever anyone in this world does what they are passionate about for their job, it makes a positive impact on themselves and everyone around them. I wish everyone in this world was able to do what they love. I know this isn’t a reality for everyone, but I dream that it can be.
What an incredible woman. And, again, what she says is grounded in love. She wants the best for others; that they might feel joy and peace while here in this life.
Well the other who has Meredith Patterson in their life will feel joy and peace.
One only has to see her Instagram to see the abundant, overflowing, joyful love that she has for and shares with others. It is irresistible.
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🌟50 years ago today my beautiful parents got married!! 🌟I am so lucky to be their daughter, having watched them go through the incredible journey of true partnership together with humor, passion, true friendship and love. Happy 50th Anniversary Mom and Dad!! I love you so much #familyiseverything #onelove #love #happyanniversary #golden
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6 years ago today the man I was meant to love smiled and said hello to me. He asked me for my number and we've been inseparable ever since. I looked in his soulful eyes, he flashed that insanely gorgeous smile and I knew my life would never be the same. I love you @dustinbrayley my husband, my heart, the father of our children and the man who brightened everything in the world for me. Happy Anniversary of the day we met my baby, the day my heart became whole. ❤️#onelove #happyanniversary #besthusbandever #lifereallycanbethisgreat
These images say everything.
Meredith is a woman with love at the core of her being.
Her husband, her children, her family, her friends, and her audiences are all better human beings because she is in their lives.
Meredith, from the bottom of my soul, thank you for touching our hearts with your good. Your talent and efforts mean the world to so many, and so many in the world are better because of you, and so many more will be better because of you. Go get ’em.
An amazing person. An amazing talent.
I thank the Lord for blessing the world with this star whose bright is from Heaven.
Meredith’s Television Reel, which includes her brilliantly exuberant work on Boston Legal