By Wayne Harada
Miles, who graduated from Kaimuki High School, read her acceptance speech, stored in her cell phone (was this a first?), in a somewhat nervous voice. But her glee and excitement were evident.
She praised her colleagues in the Lincoln Center Theatre acting company. “My highest admiration to our ensemble, which has the hardest job on stage — which is to tell the story without ever saying a word,” said Miles. “They never get to open their mouths. It is a pleasure to be a company of such amazing actors.”
Miles is only the second performer with Hawaii roots to ever snag a Tony acting prize in the Featured Actress in a Musical category. The first was Angie “Leilani” Jones, an African American singer-dancer, who won in 1985’s “Grind” musical. Loretta Ables Sayre, of Filipino heritage like Miles, was the first Asian Tony nominee in the same category for her role as Bloody Mary in “South Pacific,” which ran from 2008 to 2010 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, where “King” now is on an open run.
“The King and I” marks Miles’ Broadway debut, but she earned accolades for her last role, portraying Imelda Marcos in an off-Broadway disco musical, “Here Lies Love,” in the original mounting at the Public Theatre, and also in a revival a year later. That role earned her two off-Broadway awards: the Theatre World Award and the Lortel Award, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. Her other off-Broadway roles include “Avenue Q” at the New World Stages.
“The King and I” other awards include Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Kelli O’Hara).